NJEP Director Lynn Hecht Schafran Contributes Chapter to New Book on Intimate Partner Sexual Violence

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October 22, 2013

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Lynn Hecht Schafran



Legal Momentum is pleased to announce that Lynn Hecht Schafran, Director of its National Judicial Education Program (NJEP), has contributed a chapter to the newly published compendium, Intimate Partner Sexual Violence: A Multidisciplinary Guide to Improving Services and Support for Survivors of Rape and Abuse, edited by Louise McOrmond-Plummer, Patricia Easteal, and Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck.

NJEP is a leading authority on the intersection of sexual assault and domestic violence. Ms. Schafran’s chapter, Intimate Partner Sexual Violence and the Courts, addresses the implications of intimate partner sexual violence (IPSV) for judges and court-related personnel. Ms. Schafran examines the common mistakes courts make in identifying incidences of IPSV and suggests ways for judges to effectively interpret and assess the signs of IPSV. This chapter is based on NJEP’s free web course, 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.

Despite growing attention to the issue of domestic violence in recent decades, IPSV has only recently been recognized as an issue by the courts. This delay stems in part from the existence of the ‘marital rape exemption,’ which made it legally impossible for a man to rape his wife. Although this exemption has now been formally eliminated, disturbing misconceptions about marital rape and intimate partner sexual violence remain. 

There is a widespread belief that marital rape is not common and not as harmful as other types of rape because the victim is used to having sex with the perpetrator.  In fact, victims often suffer intense emotional and psychological consequences because of the betrayal of trust, and more serious physical injuries than most victims of sexual assault because perpetrators of marital rape usually subject their victims to multiple rapes, resulting in chronic health problems. Sexual violence co-perpetrated with physical violence is a leading indicator of escalating violence and potential lethality for victims and their children, and thus a crucial red flag for courts to recognize when issuing orders of protection, setting bail, and making decisions about sentencing, and child custody and visitation.


About Legal Momentum

Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.