HIV & Violence in LGBTQ Relationships

The National LGBTQ Institute on IPV has a webinar coming up, HIV and Violence in LGBTQ Relationships. It will be held October 3rd from 12-1:30 PT. I do not know if it will be archived, so please contact the hosts directly if you are looking for that information. From the site:

DV/IPV Sexual Assault

US Crime Statistics, 2016

For those of you who teach, write grants, etc., the FBI has just released the US Crime Statistics for 2016. You’ll find your general violent crime stats here; human trafficking (which has been broken out from the other stats) here. There is also a specific addendum that addresses the changes in the UCR definition of rape that you can review here. It’s helpful in understanding how things have evolved, but keep in mind, we’re still only talking about reported cases…

{I’m in Germany, so postings are going to be lighter this week. I’ll try to resume a normal schedule of posting next week. Honest.}

Sexual Assault

Injury Evidence, Biological Evidence, and Prosecution of Sexual Assault

Recent grant publication out of NIJ that might be of interest to some of you: Injury Evidence, Biological Evidence, and Prosecution of Sexual Assault (PDF). Another contributor to the question of criminal justice outcomes, it might be a good one to share with your SART or MDT. Not a huge sample size, and I have a few questions about the analysis of their findings, but what particularly caught my eye was the following: “The study found that victim-injury-evidence variables and most biological-evidence variables were not statistically related to criminal justice outcomes.”

[H/t Leslie Hagan–thanks!]

DV/IPV Sexual Assault

Mandated Reporting Obligations When a Survivor Has a Disability

Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety has a webinar coming up, Mandated Reporting Obligations When a Survivor Has a Disability. The session will be held October 17th at 2pm ET. Unfortunately, I cannot find any additional info on this one, other than what’s on the registration page (a search of their website using the exact title of the webinar produces nothing [insert frowny face here]). However, I include this one on the site because it is a critical issue in the work we do, and so I encourage people to consider this one for your to-do list. I’ll be out of the country the week it’s held, but I hope someone will let me know how it was (because–and I know someone will ask– I also don’t know if they will archive it). If I receive additional intel I will add it to this post.


Since Last We Spoke, 9-18-17

It was a very social, and productive weekend at home after being out west for most of the week. Friday I head to Germany for the better part of a week (or more–who knows?), so while I have 4 days in the office this week, it’s a packed one. Plus Rosh Hashana begins Wednesday night, so there’s that. No rest for the wicked/weary (take your pick), but I did have time to surf a bit. Here’s what caught my eye since last we spoke:

I mean yes, I understand this

Good job, Tampa

A survivor’s story

This was some unbelievable writing

I’ve been asked for career guidance on many occasions–I’d say this encapsulates my general philosophy

I’m done with not being believed

Pretty sure you’ll find this one interesting…

This is a lot, but it’s important

I have to say, I generally agree with this sentiment

His writing perfectly marries my politics with my need to find something to laugh about right now

This is some of the best advice I have ever heard:

Child Abuse

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: Assessing CAC Partnerships

The Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center has a webinar coming up on a topic I hear people stress over frequently: CAC collaboration. Their session, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: Assessing CAC Partnerships will be held October 12th at 1pm CT. All of their sessions are archived so if you can’t make it in real time, never fear. From the site:

Child abuse and neglect are community problems, requiring a response from law enforcement, child protective services, medical professionals, and others. Given that collaboration is central to the CAC movement, how do leaders develop, assess, and monitor partnerships with multiple disciplines – particularly when some of those relationships are “have-to” rather than “want-to?”

Register here.


Child Abuse

Engaging and Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders through a Forensic Medical Examination

IAFN has a webinar coming up, Engaging and Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Through a Forensic Medical Exam. The session will be held October 17th at 2pm ET. From the site:

Research has shown that individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders experience abuse and sexual victimization at rates higher than the general population. Compounding this problem, individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders experience an array of communication difficulties as well as confusion and anxiety in new and unfamiliar situations, particularly those related to medical examinations and procedures. Under these circumstances, routine hospital visits can quickly become overwhelming and traumatic. A medical forensic examination, following an already traumatic experience of suspected sexual abuse, can thus magnify the individual’s anxiety and lead to increased agitation and difficulty completing the examination. In this training, participants will learn about the prevalence, core features, and range of symptom presentations of Autism Spectrum Disorders and the implications for providing effective services and supports to individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The presenter will share general tips and strategies for engaging and supporting individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Practical skills will be shared to address challenges specific to the forensic examination following an allegation or disclosure of sexual abuse to minimize additional trauma or anxiety for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  

Register here.



Since Last We Spoke, 9-11-17

This week begins the wild ride that is my fall travel calendar. I’m heading to Joint Base Lewis-McChord 1st thing in the morning so I will have plenty of time to catch up on reading. Most of the weekend was spent monitoring Irma (Sasha’s family is in Naples– they evacuated–and Tampa–they didn’t). Still, I came across a few things–here’s what caught my eye since last we spoke:

A reminder

A way out for abused Jewish women

Related: a different way out

We started it

“Guilt is a bitch”

Stress cooking is a thing, right? Among several things I cooked since last we spoke…

Never forget

DV/IPV Sexual Assault Testimony

Deleting Blurry and Unusable Photographs

As is often the case, I like to discuss hot topics from the IAFN community site over here, as well. In part, because FHO reaches a different audience to an extent, and in part because I have a little more flexibility on my own site. Recently a question was posed about deleting blurry or otherwise unusable photos. Kosher or no? If you delete a photo is it “destroying evidence” as some claim, or is it something less nefarious? I will repost a portion of my response to the question on the community site here and then add a bit to what I previously posted over there:

[P]hotos are taken for the purpose of documenting findings as part of the medical record. Just as our colleagues in other areas of medicine take photos to document findings (and delete photos that aren’t useful for those purposes, such as blurry ones), so too do we. Those photos may then be used, along with the rest of the medical record, in a criminal or civil proceeding. At that time I have to testify as to whether my photos are “true and accurate” depictions of what I saw on exam. I am swearing under oath that my photos display what I saw. Just as I swear under oath that the swabs were obtained from the places I say they were obtained, or that the statements in my documentation actually reflect what the patient said to me.

To be honest, the idea that we are “destroying evidence” seems to be an arbitrary one. We don’t maintain specula after female sexual assault medical-forensic exams, but certainly, we could argue there is “evidence” potentially present on them. We don’t worry about it because there are swabs that theoretically captured the same “evidence”. I view this under a similar light. And being able to discuss my (current, regularly reviewed) policies and procedures and articulate why I may have deviated from them (if in fact, I did) is what speaks to transparency, in my opinion.

People possess a variety of philosophical viewpoints about their practices, which means we will probably never achieve consensus on this issue (as is the case for many things in our field). What is true for everyone, regardless of practice philosophy, is the need, when testifying, to be able to explain the rationale for why we do what we do with patients. We probably don’t have to agree on much else, but we do need to agree on that point. And I would go a step further and say that we need to explain the clinical rationale for why we do what we do with patients. Making decisions based on what law enforcement, or prosecutors or a camera software system manufacturer think is best has the potential to put people in as uncomfortable a position as deleting the specific photos, so the question will always be, why?

  • If your response is, I didn’t delete any photos because I didn’t want to destroy “evidence”, be prepared for hard questions about who asked you not to delete photos, the purpose of the photos you took, and your general alignment with investigatory vs medical procedures.
  • If your response is, I delete any photos that don’t adequately document what I saw at the time of exam, be prepared for difficult questions about theoretically destroying evidence.

For what it’s worth, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of consensus, or even guidance, on this issue in the texts I most frequently use in my practice. The Atlas of Sexual Violence doesn’t address it in any way; Forensic Emergency Medicine (2nd Ed) does address it, but states in regards to deleted digital images:

The photographer should be ready to openly explain why the image was deleted. Possible explanations include “the image was out of focus,” “lighting was inadequate,” “technical problems with the camera settings,” or “my fingers got in the way.” An open and honest response should quiet any ill-mannered attorney. (Smock & Besant-Matthews, Forensic Photography in the Emergency Department, pp 289-290).

There is no “gold standard” on this issue–just a variety of opinions on whether or not it should be done. Anyone wanting to forward me scholarly work on this topic, by all means, please–I will compile a lit review for the FHO community and for wider distribution. Until then, I actually do think we will have to agree to disagree.

So there you have it. Make informed decisions. Consider the rationale behind the choices you make. Know how to articulate your decision making at trial. Nothing new to see here, folks. But always interesting discussion.

{Not legal advice, not official guidance–the world as I see it. Take it for what it’s worth.}

[Add, 9/8: A couple folks have sent or asked about SWGIT‘s standards, which I appreciate and will simply say–yes, these are the standards for forensic photographers in law enforcement. We aren’t law enforcement, and our photographs are taken for a different reason. So again, I stand by the statement I made earlier, I don’t believe there is a gold standard in our profession at this point.]


New Research on the Intergenerational Transmission of Abuse

Battered Women’s Justice Project has a webinar coming up, New Research on the Intergenerational Transmission of Abuse. The session will be held September 20th at 2pm CT. Note: the registration is capped, so sign up sooner rather than later. From the site:

The “cycle of violence” hypothesis is deeply engrained in the domestic violence movement and is often invoked without a solid understanding of the limitations and challenges involved with testing this hypothesis. As such, this webinar will provide a methodological review and critique of the ‘Intergenerational Transmission of Violence’ literature. It will also discuss findings from a 20-year study on life course and intergenerational continuity of intimate partner aggression and physical injury. Implications and future research directions will be discussed.

Register here.