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‘Why didn’t you scream?’: Child sex abuse complainants face victim blaming, badgering in court

Children in sex assault trials are blamed for their own abuse, criticised for keeping secrets and repeatedly accused of lying by defence lawyers, causing extreme distress and undermining their ability to give evidence, a study has found.

Judges either failed to stop such questioning or cut off inappropriate lines of cross-examination too late, trial transcripts revealed, despite the fact they worked in specialist sexual violence courts, and received extra training.

Fifteen child sex abuse trials were examined in the report ‘That’s a Lie’, commissioned by Chief Victims Adviser Kim McGregor after she received complaints from children and their families about cross-examination in the courts.

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