What Sexual Assault Does To The Brain

The unraveling of Rolling Stone‘s recent blockbuster feature on campus sexual assault has led to a great deal of hand-wringing over the way the media covers these crimes.

The magazine’s story centers around “Jackie,” who described being subject to a horrific gang rape while a freshman at the University of Virginia. Independent reporting found fault in Rolling Stone’s coverage, primarily surrounding some discrepancies between Jackie’s account in the magazine and the memories of those who had been around her at the time of the attack.

Based on these discrepancies, some have called the story a hoax, or at least untrue. In response, activists were immediately concerned that the bad press would reinforce the prevailing tendency to doubt sexual assault victims, an estimated 92-98 percent of whom are telling the truth. But actually, the argument that Jackie’s account is fake based on fuzzy detail recall isn’t just unlikely — it’s scientifically unsound.

Though we may never know what happened in this particular case, it’s not uncommon for trauma survivors to have very fragmented recollections and difficulty with details, according to psychologist Dr. David Lisak, a forensic consultant and sexual abuse expert. This can —> Read More Here


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