Court Heard About Rape Myths From Expert Psychiatrist Dr Barbara Ziv

Today the court heard about rape myths from psychiatrist Dr Barbara Ziv, an expert in sexual assault and rape trauma, the day after Annabella Sciorra gave heart wrenching evidence which lasted the whole day.

Dr Barbara Ziv gave evidence in Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault trial. Dr Ziv was the first witness to give evidence at the Cosby trial and explained to the court about sexual assault, rape trauma and the common misconceptions.

Similarly at Harvey Weinstein’s trial, Dr Ziv explained that rape myths are very common about victims, perpetrators and the aftermath and that they are culturally rooted. She explained that most rapists are known to victims and it’s rare for a victim to physically fight back even in stranger cases a long with the fact that most victims do not report straight away. In fact, many do not report at all.

The defence objected multiple times. Each time they were overruled by Judge Burke.

Dr Ziv continued that another misconception is that victims do not continue contact with the perpetrator. She said this actually happens in most cases and there are many reasons why. She explained that some victims cannot believe it happened, others believe they can put the rape event in a box and move on with their lives, as if it didn’t happen, whereas some are fearful the perpetrator will ruin their lives and try and ‘manage’ them.

Many victims also fear they are to blame in some way and others fear they will not be believed, if they do report. There are many reasons why victim’s continue contact, and just because they do, it does not mean the rape did not happen.

Dr Ziv explained that many women do not just not report to police, but rather that they tell no one, despite having close friends and family. There are also over 100 recognisable behaviours in the aftermath of a sexual assault, she said. It might include self-medicating with alcohol and/or drugs, promiscuity, from being outgoing to withdrawn, self-harm including cutting, eating disorders, sleep deprivation, the list goes on.

This is the reality. Those of us who have worked with victims and/or have been raped or sexually assaulted unfortunately know this all too well. It is vital juries, judges, police, lawyers and all professionals and wider society catch up and are educated to know it too.

Annabella’s testimony, the absence of details about the date and the fact she did not report is in fact more normal than not. She is not the anomaly.

And today her account was further supported when Annabella’s friend, Rosie Perez, gave evidence. Annabella disclosed to her first about the rape and Rosie recalled that it was in 1994.

Those who also gave evidence for the state today included Sam Anson, a private investigator, who was contacted by Harvey Weinstein in 2017 to look into Annabella Sciorra gave evidence.

Former model and friend of Annabella, Kara Young, also gave evidence. She said Annabella was different in 1994 and that she was ‘shaking, jittery.’ Kara said that she later learned that Annabella was cutting herself.

The case continues.

For My Two Cents about Annabella Sciorra’s testimony, click here.

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