Documenting the Outrageous

The Problem

For Both Children and Adults. The court "discounts" the seriousness of male sexual violence by confounding the conditions for leniency with the normal social and family situations that most women and children are in with respect to men who sexually assault and abuse them.
For Children. First, they are held responsible for their sexuality, when in fact it is adults who are responsible to avoid all sexual contact with children. Second, children are treated as if they are not able to give responsible testimony when in fact children are able to give accurate accounts of their experiences when asked appropriate questions. Defense lawyers ask questions which are beyond the child's developmental level. Their failure to answer these questions is used to discredit their testimony as an unreliable witness, when it is the question, not the child, which should be discredited.

For Adults. The courts deal only with an atypical sub-set of adult cases based on myths and stereotypes about sexual assault. Thus, the legal process is a distortion of women's actual experiences with male sexual aggression. For those cases which reach the trial process, women are subjected by defense lawyers to lines of questions and arguments based on logical fallacies. Thus, the court accepts the unreasonable as if it were reasonable, increasing the gap between the reality of sexual assault and distortions introduced by the legal process.

The Solution
For both children and adults, part of the solution is to document these outrageous, but typical, outcomes of  the legal process. The goal is to re-define the nature of adult sexual assault and child sexual abuse, and to have these issues discussed by the local media in the context of local court cases. In this way, a common national vocabulary and frame or reference can start to emerge for a new round of reform of sexual assault legislation.
The Steps to Take
1. Create a group of individuals who are prepared to become court watchers who will observe all local sexual assault and child sexual abuse trials.

2. Use the coding manual developed by our research to document these outrageous aspects of the legal doctrine.

3. Use the results of the coding to discuss each case with the local media and to encourage the media to write about the problem in terms of the concepts provided by our research for the need for national social action program for reform of sexual assault legislation.

4. Contact napasa in order to share your information and experiences with other groups who are "Documenting the Outrageous."

5. Down load from the technical documents listed below to give to give to the group who is responsible for observing, coding and discussing with the media the court cases.

The Support Material
For Child Sexual Abuse Cases
1. The list of publication in the research series.
2. Reprints of Publications No.'s 10, 11, & 12
3. The Booklet: Documenting the Outrageous with Children.
For Adult Sexual Assault Cases
1. The list of publication in the research series.
2. Reprints of Publications No.'s 10, 13, & 14
3. The Booklet: Documenting the Outrageous with Adults.

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