Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases


This project was supported by Grant No. 2008-TA-AX-K051, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

In 2008, Legal Momentum's National Judicial Education Program (NJEP), in cooperation with the National Association of Women Judges, published a web course/resource titled Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: Adjudicating This Hidden Dimension of Domestic Violence Cases. Funded by the State Justice Institute and the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, the web course is free and open to all.

The Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse web course was prompted by recent research documenting that sexual abuse ranging from verbal degradation to torture is widespread in the domestic violence context, and that forced sex in addition to physical violence is a leading indicator of potential lethality for victims and their children. Thus, knowing whether there is sexual abuse and forced sex in a violent relationship is a key factor in risk assessment, in decision-making in civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probation cases, and in custody and visitation determinations. The justice system needs strategies that encourage victims to disclose intimate partner sexual abuse and resources for effective offender dispositions and management.

To make this information and the web course known to as many judges and justice system professionals as possible, NJEP has now created Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse materials for in-person education. To maximize the opportunities to present this important information, NJEP has created multiple versions of these materials to either be integrated into programs about domestic violence or sexual assault or risk assessment, or presented on their own.

NJEP provides comprehensive educational materials and resources for civil and criminal court judges. The iterations include 90-minute and 180-minute modules, a 60-minute module focused on risk assessment and, for programs where time is extremely tight, a 20-minute version that provides the opportunity to at least introduce the topic and distribute the Resources CD.

For each version there is a Faculty Manual, a PowerPoint presentation, a set of handouts and a Resources CD. For the 180-minute civil and criminal versions there are also interactive exercises.

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