"Raped or 'Seduced'? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence (Webinar)

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August 15, 2013

Raped or “Seduced”? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence

Originally presented: April 15, 2013

Presenter: Claudia J. Bayliff, Project Attorney, National Judicial Education Program, Legal Momentum

"Language can never be neutral; it creates versions of reality.” [1] Yet when we discuss sexual assault, we constantly use the language of consensual sex to describe assaultive acts.  This language often implies consent and romance, rather than criminal acts.  In addition, we describe violence against women in passive terms, allowing the perpetrators of this violence to remain invisible and unaccountable.  We also use language that objectifies or blames sexual assault victims.

This interactive webinar explores the language of sexual assault: how we talk about and write about this crime.  We will discuss specific examples of the language we use and explore how to discuss sexual assault in a way that more accurately depicts the crime.

[1]. Bavelas, Janet and Linda Coates, Is it Sex or Assault: Erotic Versus Violent Language in Sexual Assault Trial Judgment, 10 Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless 29 (2001).

This session provides useful information and strategies for a wide variety of professionals, including prosecutors and other lawyers, law enforcement, medical professionals, judges, victim advocates, journalists and communications professionals, and others who interact with and write about sexual assault victims.



  • Fairness in the Courts
  • Violence Against Women and Girls


Claudia Bayliff
  • National Judicial Education Program


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