Support for Children During and After the Trial

AuthorLoree Armstrong Beniuk, Jo-Anne Hughes, and Jack Reynolds
Support for Children During and Aer
I think the gritty details of testifying and the victim blaming that goes along with
it, can have lasting impacts for kids. ere is oen lengthy questioning about all of
the things the victim didn’t do:
Why didn’t you tell him to stop? Why didn’t you tell him no? Why didn’t
you refuse?
Why didn’t you leave? Why didn’t you run away?
Why did you continue contact? Why didn’t you stay away? Why would you be
alone with him again? Why did you get him a birthday gi aer he did this?
Why didn’t you tell someone? Why didn’t you tell sooner? Why didn’t you tell
them everything when you nally did tell?
e way these questions are worded becomes quite accusatory at times. “You
knew this had happened before, you knew it was wrong, it doesn’t make sense that
you would be alone with him again.” It is all based on this general misperception that
victims of sexual abuse SHOULD behave in a certain way. Being trauma-informed
explains or helps one to understand much of this behaviour. Courts are slowly get-
ting up to speed in becoming more trauma-informed, but there is much work yet to
be done. Defense attorneys are still given a lot of leeway in the questions they ask
complainants in sexual assault cases. I nd these kinds of questions are oen used
as more of a tactic—an attempt to wear the complainant down. So, although the
answers to the questions above might not inuence a ruling by a trauma-informed
judge, it leaves the victim feeling at fault for their own victimization.
— Laura Cook, caseworker with the Child Witness Centre, Kitchener (2021)

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