Barriers to Reliable Credibility Assessments: Domestic Violence Victim-Witnesses

17 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012

See all articles by Laurie Kohn

Laurie Kohn

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: 2003


This Article examines the challenges for victims of domestic violence appearing in court when the victim presents differently than the paradigmatic domestic violence victim. In particular, this Article analyzes the strategic dilemma of presenting a victim who refuses to admit (or cannot access or does not experience) fear of the batterer, and the victim who feels anger towards her assailant.

This Article addresses possible policy and tactical responses to this challenge. Suggesting legislative changes that eliminate requirements that victims prove subjective fear of a battering partner, the Article further analyzes the use of expert witnesses to assist jurors and judges in understanding atypical victim behavior and testimony.

Keywords: domestic violence, abuse, judicial system, victim, criminal justice, atypical victim behavior, domestic violence abuse victims, expert witness

JEL Classification: K10, K14, J12

Suggested Citation

Kohn, Laurie, Barriers to Reliable Credibility Assessments: Domestic Violence Victim-Witnesses (2003). American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2003, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-131, GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2012-131, Available at SSRN:

Laurie Kohn (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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