Psychiatry Expert Tells Weinstein Jury Rape Victims' Memories May Become Fuzzy Years After Assault

Psychiatry Expert Tells Weinstein Jury Rape Victims’ Memories May Become Fuzzy Years After Assault

“Rapes are not what we see on TV,” Dr. Barbara Ziv told the jury at Harvey Weinstein’s trial in Los Angeles, when she was called by the prosecution on Tuesday to testify about “myths.” rape” – in other words, to demystify commonplace things. held societal beliefs about rape and sexual assault.

“Most of the things that people believe are not accurate or supported by facts,” Ziv said, telling the jury that the behaviors of rape victims are “counterintuitive.”

Ziv is a forensic psychiatrist and licensed physician who specializes in all aspects of sexual assault, assessing victim and perpetrator behaviors. Over her decades of medical career, she has worked with more than a thousand victims of sexual assault, but has no affiliation with the Weinstein case and has not worked with any of the Jane Does who claim to be victims. abuse of Weinstein. .

Ziv testified as an expert in Weinstein’s first criminal trial in New York in 2020, as well as in Bill Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault trial in Pennsylvania.

Ziv remained at the helm for hours. After his presentation to the jury, Weinstein’s defense attorney Alan Jackson cross-examined Ziv at length, focusing on the difference between the legal and medical definitions of rape and consent.

“You testified about rape myths… Those are broad generalizations about conduct,” Jackson said, to which Ziv replied, “I came here to educate what the truth is about sexual assault.”

Ziv was called by the prosecution as an expert to bolster their case. It is expected that later in the trial, the defense will also bring in a doctor or medical expert to weigh in on memory loss and other issues that would present the jury with a different perspective than the studies and of Ziv’s psychiatric work.

Memory is complicated, Ziv told jurors, and victims of sexual assault forever retain memories of the “core trauma” but smaller details of the attack — such as the day, time, what carried their attacker, etc. – could be lost. over the years.

“If people don’t report soon, they say they don’t remember years later,” Ziv said. “It’s not that they’re lying…people are trying to do their best…they’re trying to remember.”

Ziv explained that while police sometimes use these “memory issues” to say a victim isn’t credible, that’s changing as understanding of rape victims has advanced in recent years.

As part of her presentation, Ziv busted “rape myths,” telling the jury that much of the behavior the general public would assume from rape victims is false, according to sexual assault psychiatrists.

Rapes often occur between people who know each other, although most people think assaults are usually done by strangers, Ziv said. “Most people are raped by someone they know,” she told the jury. She explained that although “stranger rape” does occur, most sexual assaults involve people who know each other in some way, contrary to the portrayal commonly seen on television and film.

Victims of sexual assault do not resist their attackers, although most people believe they would fight back, the psychiatrist told jurors. “Most individuals don’t resist,” Ziv said. “Even aggressive verbal shouting and yelling is not as common as one might think. … It’s counter-intuitive. You would think that if you were violated, you would defend yourself. She added: “Ultimately, it’s not.”

During cross-examination, Jackson asked Ziv if “some are fighting back.” She replied, “Some,” then continued, “Are some women standing up for themselves? Sure. The myth is that it is common. Jackson then asked, “Some are screaming and screaming and screaming?” Ziv responded in the same way, responding, “Some.”

Ziv told jurors that victims of sexual assault generally do not report quickly, although most people believe they would go to the police if assaulted..

“Sexual assault is an underreported crime,” Ziv said. “Even when reported, it is very rarely prosecuted.”

She explained that when victims report an assault, it’s often not to the authorities, but possibly to a friend or family member – but not telling anything at all is also common. Ziv said there was a “large percentage [that] never tell anyone in their life. Feelings of “shame” is one reason many victims don’t speak out about their assault, she said, but there are many reasons why victims don’t speak out. “It’s a very difficult subject to talk about.” The psychiatrist added: “They fear the response…the intrusion into their privacy…the fear of being classified as promiscuous or a liar.”

Ziv told the jury that a sexual assault victim’s behavior following an assault, whether happy or sad, does not indicate whether or not she was assaulted. “Behaviour after sexual assault is variable,” she said. “You can’t tell if a person has been sexually assaulted based on the consequences of their behavior.”

Victims of sexual assault often have ongoing contact with their attacker after the assault, Ziv said, noting that the common belief is that a rape victim would never see or speak to their attacker again. She testified that most people see their abuser again and might voluntarily continue to communicate with him for a variety of reasons.

“People work in the same circle,” she suggested, explaining that victims may not want their peers to find out what happened. “It’s a really humiliating experience to be sexually assaulted by someone you know.”

One of the reasons sexual assault victims may talk to their abuser afterwards is because they “want to understand” or want an apology. Very often, continued contact occurs because victims fear retaliation and “collateral damage,” Ziv said, especially when an attacker is in a position of power. “When an abuser damages other aspects of your life…those things affect your trajectory forever.”

Ziv also told the jury that it is common for victims of sexual assault to later have consensual sex with their attacker. “A lot of times people feel like they’re just damaged goods and no one else will want them, so they start acting like damaged goods.”

Jackson challenged Ziv by asking, “Some people avoid their attacker at all costs?”

“Yes,” she replied.

And when he asked: “Some go immediately to the police?” She replied: “Some”.

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