Academic journal article The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

Double Victimization of the Child: The Legal Process as an Added Trauma

Academic journal article The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences

Double Victimization of the Child: The Legal Process as an Added Trauma

Article excerpt

The early history of Israeli society led to a psychological barrier in dealing with victims. Israel could not then afford to be too sensitive either to the victims of the Holocaust or to losses arising from Arab/Israeli wars. Similarly, Israeli approaches to criminality and its victims also had their limitations.

Children who have been abused by adults, especially parents, may be even further traumatized by the judicial process, the main purpose of which is to determine the guilt or innocence of the offender and not the maximization of the welfare of the child. Particular difficulties for the child as a witness in court are the length of the trial, lack of simple knowledge of court proceedings, being confronted with the alleged abuser and the child's own evolving developmental stages including vulnerability to suggestibility.

Adults may also have their own difficulties in being able to tolerate the pain of the child's trauma. Sometimes the trial regarding earlier abuse takes place when the victim is no longer a young child. What the court may see is a teenage girl who when victimized years previously was innocent but now may be perceived as capable of a degree of seduction.

Family dynamics are relevant to the evidence presented to the court. Where the mother has been aware of the abuse, she may see her abused daughter as a rival rather than a child to be protected. …

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