The Violence of CareRape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention

The Violence of CareRape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention

Sameena Mulla

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9781479800315

Publisher: NYU Press


Every year in the United States, thousands of women and hundreds of men participate in sexual assault forensic examinations. Drawing on four years of participatory research in a Baltimore emergency room, this book reveals the realities of sexual assault response in the forensic age. It analyzes the ways in which forensic nurses work to collect and preserve evidence while addressing the needs of sexual assault victims as patients. The book considers how blending the work of care and forensic investigation into a single intervention shapes the ways that victims of violence understand their own suffering, recovery, and access to justice. As nurses race the clock to preserve biological evidence, institutional practices, technologies, and even state requirements for documentation undermine the way in which they are able to offer psychological and physical care. Yet most of the evidence they collect never reaches the courtroom and does little to increase the number of guilty verdicts. The book illustrates the violence of care with painstaking detail, illuminating why victims continue to experience what many call “secondary rape” during forensic interventions, even as forensic nursing is increasingly professionalized. Revictimization can occur even at the hands of conscientious nurses, simply because they are governed by institutional requirements that shape their practices. This book challenges the uncritical adoption of forensic practice in sexual assault intervention and post-rape care, showing how forensic intervention profoundly impacts the experiences of violence, justice, healing and recovery for victims of rape and sexual assault.