Trump’s lawyer accuses E. Jean Carroll of mendacity — counting on a typical and discredited fable about how girls are imagined to react to rape

Trump’s lawyer accuses E. Jean Carroll of mendacity — counting on a typical and discredited fable about how girls are imagined to react to rape

Former President Donald Trump’s authorized staff ended its closing arguments in his rape trial on Could 8, 2023, by saying Trump’s accuser – journalist E. Jean Carroll – was mendacity concerning the alleged decades-old assault.

Following the two-week trial, a Manhattan jury is anticipated to quickly attain a verdict about whether or not Trump is responsible of battery and defamation as Carroll’s lawsuit, filed in 2022, claims.

Trump has at all times denied that he raped Carroll.

Whereas cross-examining Carroll, Trump’s legal professional, Joseph Tacopina, recommended she solely got here ahead along with her allegations, in 2019, “due to her disdain for Trump’s politics and since she needed to promote copies of her e-book.”

Tacopina additionally requested Carroll, 79, why she didn’t scream, name the police or recall the date and time of the alleged assault, which she says occurred in a Bergdorf Goodman division retailer dressing room in Manhattan in 1996.

“I’m telling you, he raped me, whether or not I screamed or not,” Carroll stated in court docket on April 27.

As a researcher who has studied violence towards girls for greater than 20 years, I can inform you that this line of questioning bolstered widespread myths about sexual assault which were perpetuated in different high-profile sexual assault instances, reminiscent of these of comic Invoice Cosby and Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

It’s a typical chorus, however one with out advantage.

E. Jean Carroll, proven at her residence in New York state in 2019.
Eva Deitch for The Washington Put up/Getty Photos

Myths about responses to sexual assault

Over a number of many years, researchers have documented myths about sexual assault – known as rape myths – which can be each widespread and persistently held.

Like the road of questioning directed at Carroll, rape myths suggest that “actual” sexual assault could be distinguished from false accusations based mostly on how girls responded to the assault.

For instance, myths that “actual” victims will struggle again and name the police instantly are widespread. Rape myths are so prevalent that they will even be detected amongst individuals with coaching on sexual assault, reminiscent of regulation enforcement officers and crime lab personnel. In flip, rape myths have critical penalties for decision-making in instances, even by way of whether or not or not instances are dismissed.

Opposite to myths, although, individuals reply in various methods once they expertise traumatic occasions, together with sexual assault. Definitely, some individuals struggle again, as Carroll testified she did. Nevertheless, different individuals might seem conciliatory or passive. The vary of responses that individuals have throughout traumatic occasions, known as flight, struggle or freeze, could be affected by computerized processes, reminiscent of stress hormones which can be launched in response to risk.

Folks additionally fluctuate in how they act after sexual assault, reminiscent of whether or not or not they name the police or search medical care. Carroll testified on Could 2, concerning her conduct, saying, “Ladies like me have been taught and educated to maintain our chins up and to not complain.”

“The truth that I by no means went to the police is no surprise for somebody my age,” stated Carroll, who was about 52 years outdated on the time of the alleged assault.

It’s really not stunning for girls of many ages. Certainly, a overwhelming majority of rapes go unreported to regulation enforcement, despite the fact that individuals might disclose what occurred to mates, household or different casual help individuals of their lives.

Myths about responses to disclosure

Ladies have many causes for disclosing – or not disclosing – sexual harassment and assault, together with to attempt to forestall others from being harmed, discover security or get assist.

In spite of everything, analysis reveals that sexual assault can take a critical toll on all facets of survivors’ lives, from their bodily and psychological well being to their careers and training. Regardless of the prices to survivors, those that search financial compensation are sometimes met with suspicion.

In 2015, a staff of researchers thought-about responses to sexual assault in a court docket setting by asking mock jurors to learn almost similar summaries of a sexual assault trial.

The descriptions have been the identical, aside from one vital element: About half of the individuals additionally discovered that the sufferer had filed a civil case to attempt to get financial compensation. The mock jurors who learn concerning the civil go well with have been much less prone to say they might convict the defendant.

In addition they perceived the defendant as extra credible, and the sufferer much less so, seeing her as an alternative as grasping and manipulative.

A white man in a dark blue suit walks down a sidewalk, flanked by a woman in a beige jacket and another man in a suit.

Joseph Tacopina, legal professional for former President Donald Trump, seems outdoors a Manhattan courthouse on April 27, 2023.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Photos

Ladies not often lie about sexual assault

Folks routinely query girls’s credibility once they disclose sexual harassment and assault, and suggest that girls lie about assault.

Nevertheless, proof constantly reveals that false reviews of sexual assault are exceedingly uncommon. For instance, two totally different analysis groups analyzed sexual assault reviews made to the Los Angeles Police Division and a big college police division. Utilizing cautious standards for coding allegations and proof, the groups estimated that solely 4.5% to five.9% of instances have been false.

But, the overwhelming majority of sexual assault instances reported to regulation enforcement don’t end in convictions. In keeping with analysis funded by the Nationwide Institute of Justice, solely about 6% of sexual assault instances reported to the police led to a willpower of guilt.

In 2017, when my analysis staff interviewed greater than 200 girls who have been sexually assaulted, we found that family and friends generally responded to disclosures with adverse reactions. They handled survivors in another way, centered on how the assault affected them as an alternative of the survivors, took management away from survivors and even blamed survivors for the assaults.

In 2019, when one other analysis staff pulled collectively 51 research like ours on reactions to girls’s disclosures, they discovered a constant sample – girls who acquired extra adverse reactions once they disclosed their assaults had worse psychological well being outcomes, reminiscent of extra extreme post-traumatic stress dysfunction signs. This sample means that when girls disclose, they’re attempting to get assist and help.

When these hopes for help are dashed by adverse reactions as an alternative, girls’s psychological ache is worse.

Carroll put it this manner as she described the affect of adverse reactions to her disclosure: “It hit me and it laid me low as a result of I misplaced my popularity. No person checked out me the identical. It was gone. Even individuals who knew me checked out me with pity of their eyes, and the individuals who had no opinion now thought I used to be a liar and hated me.”

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