Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers

Deborah Tuerkheimer. Harper Wave, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-300274-6
Northwestern law professor Tuerkheimer debuts with a persuasive analysis of the cultural and legal forces that “downgrade the credibility” of sexual abuse survivors. Noting that women from marginalized communities are the least likely to be believed, Tuerkheimer describes how the “credibility complex” shields the accused by pitting the stereotype of the “perfect victim” (one who fights back, shows emotional distress, and severs ties with her attacker) against that of the “monster abuser” (a “deviant” who “violat[es] all potential victims in his path”). Tuerkheimer also explains how doubt is “baked into law” through the “insistence on prompt complaint,” expectation of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and presumption of innocence, which creates a “care gap” that places more weight on the abuser’s suffering than the accuser’s. Spotlighting incidents of sexual assault in doctors’ offices and on college campuses and military bases, Tuerkeimer delves into the phenomena of “slut-shaming” and gaslighting, and explains the psychological impact of trauma. She also unearths startling statistics (by some estimates, 65% of Black girls experience sexual abuse before age 14) and sheds light on high-profile cases against Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and others. Packed with insight and empathy, this is an open-and-shut case for a more compassionate form of justice. Agent: Jennifer Gates, Aevitas Creative. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/04/2021
Release date: 09/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-300276-0
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