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Intimate Partner Sexual Assault: Implications for Risk Assessment

National Judicial Education Program*


*A Project of Legal Momentum in cooperation with the National Association of Women Judges

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Risk Assessment Related to Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse

Assessing likelihood of continued and escalating physical and sexual violence Assessing possible lethality Assessing risks to children when making custody and visitation decisions How to elicit the crucial information and craft effective orders

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Violence Often Escalates When Women Try to Leave


Any time I would try to leave him, the beatings or the rape would come, he would threaten my family and friends and my silence was bought once again.
Excerpt from Aphrodite Wounded, a support website for survivors of marital and partner rape, Froggies Story, www.aproditewounded.org

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Violence Often Escalates When Women Try to Leave (contd)


Marital rape victim testified her husband told her the only way to get out of our marriageis through death and I would have to die.

Source: Jones v. State, 74 S.W. 3d 663, 667 (Ark. 2002)

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Violence Often Escalates When Women Try to Leave (contd)

Widespread but mistaken belief that if women in relationships would just leave, the violence would end Battered women often stay with their abusers because they are terrified by the escalation in violence whenever they try to escape

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Violence Often Escalates When Women Try to Leave (contd)

Leaving is the most dangerous time for a battered woman because the batterer is outraged that he is losing control over her

Most of the worst physical and sexual violence and most murders occur at or after separation

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Separation Sexual Assault

An impending separation or divorce often prompts renewed or first-time intimate partner sexual abuse One researcher found that 20% of the women in her sample were raped during or after their separation* A 2000 National Institute of Justice survey found that 24.7% of women raped by a former spouse or cohabiting partner said they were raped before and after the relationship ended**
Sources:*Raquel Kennedy Bergen, WIFE RAPE: UNDERSTANDING THE RESPONSE OF SURVIVORS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS (1996) **Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes, U.S. Department of Justice, EXTENT, NATURE, AND CONSEQUENCES OF INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE: FINDINGS FROM THE NATIONAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN SURVEY, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE (2000)

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Repeated Sexual Assaults are Typical

The National Institute of Justice found that just over half of women raped by an intimate partner said they were victimized repeatedly by that partner The average was 4.5 rapes by the same partner Individuals have reported 20 and more rapes by the same partner

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Risk Assessment - Lethality


There was no greater divergence in what victims and perpetrators reported than in the area of sexual violence. If we are to believe the killers, none of them had ever been sexually violent or even coercive to the women they killedThe victims of abuse painted a very different picture. Nearly three-fourths of the women [who survived a nearmurder] said their abusive partners had raped them.
David Adams, WHY DO THEY KILL? (2007) at 171-172

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Risk Assessment Lethality (contd)

Risk assessment in domestic violence cases is traditionally thought of as assessing the risk that a batterer will kill his victim

There are actually six types of risk to be assessed

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Six Types of Potential Lethality


1. 2.

3.

4.
5. 6.

Femicide: Will the abuser kill his victim? Child Murder: Will the abuser kill the mother or couple's children? Third Party Lethality: Will the abuser kill a third party? Suicide: Will the victim kill herself? Suicide: Will the abuser kill himself? Will the victim kill the abuser?
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1. Femicide
On average each day in the U.S. more than three women are murdered by their current or former husbands or boyfriends The most recent study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics documents that 45% of female homicide victims in 2007 were killed by an intimate partner, a 5% increase since 1993*
Source:*Shannon Catalono, Erica Smith, Howard Snyder & Michael Rand, Female Victims of Violence, Bureau of Justice Statistics (September 2009), http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvv.pdf

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Femicide (contd)

In New York state in 2008, 50% of female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner 68 women.

Source: Matthew Fetzer & Adriana Fernandez-Lanier, Domestic Homicide in New York State, 2008, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (October 2009), http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/pio/annualreport/domhom08_9_29_09.pdf

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Femicide (contd)

Research documents that sexual assault in an intimate partner relationship is a leading indicator of potential lethality 11-city study of actual and attempted domestic violence femicides found that in 57% of these cases there was intimate partner sexual assault*
Source: *Jacquelyn Campbell, et al, Risk Factors for Femicide in Abusive Relationships: Results from a Multisite Case Control Study, 93 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH 1089 (2003)

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Femicide (contd)

A battered woman also being subjected to sexual assault is seven times more likely to be killed than a woman subjected to physical violence only

Source: Jacquelyn Campbell, Assessing Risk Factors for Intimate Partner Homicides, Vol. 250 NIJ Journal 15 (2003)

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Femicide (contd)

In a study of 150 Houston women seeking orders of protection, 68% were being both physically and sexually abused. The sexually-abused women reported more of the risk factors for femicide, such as strangulation and threats to children, than did those being subjected to physical abuse only
Source: Judith McFarlane & Ann Malecha, Intimate Partner Sexual Assault Against Women: Frequency, Health Consequences, and Treatment Outcome, 105 AMERICAN COLLEGE OF OBSTETRICIANS AND GYNECOLOGISTS 99 (2005)

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2. Child Murder

Newspapers frequently report incidents of men murdering children in the context of killing the mother or as punishment to leave the abusive relationship

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Child Murder (contd)

Any situation that heightens the risk of lethality for the mother heightens the risk of lethality for her children. In such instances there are few source materials apart from newspaper accounts because few of these cases will come to court

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Child Murder (contd)

Examples from 2009:


New York man killed his wife and two daughters before killing himself in April* Texas man murdered his two children and attempted to kill himself in June** Florida man murdered his wife and five children under the age of ten in September*** California man killed his two children and himself in September****
Sources: *Hotel Dead Were NY Family in Murder-Suicide, WASHINGTON POST, April 22, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/21/AR2009042103525.html. **Eric Barajas, Friends Speak on Alleged Killer, ABC 13 HOUSTON, June 16, 2009, http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=6868838 ***Albers, et al., Search for Suspect in Naples Slaying of 5 Kids, Wife Spans Two Counties, TC PALM, September 20, 2009, http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2009/sep/20/search-suspect-naplesslaying-5-kids-wife-spans-tw/. ****Catherine Salliant, In Thousand Oaks, A Father Does the Unthinkable, L.A. TIMES, September 18, 2009, http://articles.latimes.com/2009/sep/18/local/me-thousand-oaks18

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3. Third Party Lethality

Newspapers frequently report instances of abusers, in the course of trying to kill their wives/partners, killing third parties: relatives of the woman trying to leave, individuals coming to her aid, bystanders or court personnel

Example: Albany, New York man murdered his girlfriends estranged husband in 2007*

Source: *Robert Gavin, Love Triangle Killer: Im No Monster, ALBANY TIMES-UNION, January 17, 2009, http://www.timesunion.com/ASPStories/Story.asp?newsdate=3/10/2009&navigation=nextprior& category=REGION&storyID=760524

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4. Suicide: Will the Victim Kill Herself?

Sexual violence in intimate partner relationships is more psychologically damaging to victims than physical violence alone In one study, 22% of sexually assaulted battered women reported suicide threats or attempts within 90 days of applying for a protection order* In another study more than half the women said they considered or attempted suicide at some point**
Sources: *Judith McFarlane & Ann Malecha, National Institute of Justice, Sexual Assault Among Intimates: Frequency, Consequences and Treatments (October 2005) **Raquel Kennedy Bergen, WIFE RAPE: UNDERSTANDING THE RESPONSE OF SURVIVORS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS (1996)

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5. Suicide: Will the Abuser Kill Himself?

According to the National Institute of Justice, it is commonplace for abusers to perpetrate murder/suicide in which they first kill the woman trying to escape them and then kill themselves 30 % of femicides are murder-suicides*
Examples from 2009: Binghamton, New York man shoots his wife, then himself in June** Queens, New York man murders his wife, then himself in June***

Sources: *National Institute of Justice, Intimate Partner Homicide, Vol. Issue #250 National Institute of Justice Journal (2003) **Binghamton Murder-Suicide, WBNG NEWS, June 15, 2009, http://www.wbng.com/news/local/48104482.html ***Yaniv & Hutchinson, Murder-Suicide Stab Horror Claims Life of Queens Barber and Wife, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, June 15, 2009, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/06/15/2009-0615_murdersuicide_stab_horror.html
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6. Will the Victim Kill the Batterer?

The first major study of battered women who kill their abusers found that threequarters reported having been raped at least once by their abusers* In a study of 40 victims of intimate partner sexual assault more than 50% had thoughts of killing their abusers.*
Sources: *Angela Browne, WHEN BATTERED WOMEN KILL (1987)

**Raquel Kennedy Bergen, WIFE RAPE: UNDERSTANDING THE RESPONSE OF SURVIVORS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS (1996)

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Intimate Partner Sexual Assault Presages Lethality

Sexual assault co-occurring with physical abuse heightens the risk of escalating physical and sexual violence and all six types of lethality It is essential to know whether there is sexual violence in an abusive relationship in order to undertake informed risk assessment, craft appropriate orders, provide appropriate services for victims and intervene appropriately with offenders

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Risk Assessment: Custody and Visitation Implications


"[A] history of sexual assaults against the mother[is] linked to increased risk of sexual abuse of the children and increased physical danger."
Lundy Bancroft, "Assessment of Risk to Children from Visitation with a Batterer" UNDERSTANDING THE BATTERER IN CUSTODY AND VISITATION DISPUTES (1998)

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Risk Assessment: Custody and Visitation Implications (contd)


"[T]he sexual abuse of a parent has been seriously neglected despite its potentially severe traumatic impact on children and association with greater risk to the safety and well-being of children and adult victims."
Kathryn Ford, Childrens Exposure to Intimate Partner Sexual Assault, 3 SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORT 15 (2007)

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Risk Assessment: Custody and Visitation Implications (contd)

Vast research documents that children living in homes where there is domestic violence suffer serious physical and psychological harm Batterers are more likely than other fathers to seek custody, manipulate the court system to control their partners, and yet be awarded custody Intimate partner sexual abuse in the parental relationship heightens all risks to children

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Risk Assessment: Custody and Visitation Implications (contd)

Children themselves may be witnesses to or involved in a forced sex act Study:


115 women in a domestic violence shelter All raped by their male partners 18% reported children had witnessed at least one sexual assault 5.2% reported partner involved children in a forced sex act*
Source:*Jacquelyn Campbell & Peggy Alford, The Dark Consequences of Marital Rape, 89 AMERICAN JOURNAL OF NURSING, 947 (1989)

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Risk Assessment: Custody and Visitation Implications (contd)

Because of the heightened risk to children in these cases, some courts have mandated reduced and/or supervised visitation between offender and child
In the 2004 New York case C.B. v. J.U. the court determined that because the father had raped the mother during the marriage and engaged in sexually inappropriate conduct with their daughter, the father was only to see the daughter under therapeutic supervision*
Source: *C.B. v. J.U., 2004 NY Slip Op 51181U; Not reported in 798 N.Y.S.2d 707 (2004), Silberman, J.

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Recommendations for Improving Court Response to Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse

Judges are situated to lead an effort to address intimate partner sexual abuse and, by doing so, protect victims and their children, hold offenders accountable while directing them to more effective intervention, and enhance community safety

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Recommendations: Creating a Responsive Courtroom

Because these cases include highly personal and potentially embarrassing testimony, ensure that court officers, clerks, bailiffs and others who regularly circulate through the courtroom maintain a quiet, respectful attitude while litigants are in the courtroom or testifying

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Recommendations: Creating a Responsive Courtroom (contd)

Be aware of the sensitive nature of this issue and the extreme difficulty of publicly disclosing it Use behaviorally-based questions to gently ask domestic violence victims about any possible intimate partner sexual abuse

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Behaviorally-Based Questions

Ask Questions Like:


What happened after he pushed you onto the bed? Did he ever make you do sexual things that you did not want to do?

Not:
Has your partner ever raped you?

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Questions Regarding Children

If parent discloses intimate partner sexual assault, ask if children have witnessed or been directly involved in the sexual violence

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Recommendations: Creating a Responsive Courtroom (contd)

When making custody/visitation decisions, consider the heightened risk to children when there is intimate partner sexual abuse Abusers may attempt to intimidate or even harm victims in the courthouse. Work with your court administrator to create a secure waiting area for victims so the parties are separated when not in the courtroom
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Recommendations: Creating a Responsive Courtroom (contd)

Work with court personnel to create comprehensive intake forms that ask about sexual abuse

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Recommendations: Batterer Intervention Programs

Batterer intervention programs often ignore intimate partner sexual abuse. Resource Coordinators who evaluate BIPs for their suitability for court referrals should assess them on their effectiveness in addressing intimate partner sexual abuse as well as physical violence.
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Recommendations: Batterer Intervention Programs

When assessing batterer intervention programs, resource coordinators will want to consider the following:
What kind of training does the staff have specific to sex offenders and intimate partner sexual abuse? Does the program deal with intimate partner sexual abuse even if it is not formally a part the model on which the program is based? Does the program conduct any type of sexual behavior assessment? Do staff adequately differentiate between types of offenders? Do staff receive reliable information from the victim about the batterer's sexual behavior?
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This presentation was adapted from the National Judicial Education Program's Web course/resource Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating this Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases, www.njep-ipsacourse.org Registration is free and open to all. A two-page description of this course is available at: www.legalmomentum.org/assets/pdfs/ipsaflyer-09.pdf.

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Thank You
For More Information, Contact: Lynn Hecht Schafran Director, National Judicial Education Program (212) 413-7518 lschafran@legalmomentum.org

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