Sexual abuse is far more prevalent in cases involving other forms of intimate partner violence than is generally recognized. Recent research with battered women reveals that intimate partner sexual abuse is a hidden but frequent aspect of family violence with significant implications for the courts.
The term "intimate partner sexual abuse" encompasses a continuum of behaviors ranging from verbal degradation relating to sexuality to felony-level sexual abuse and torture. Cases involving this type of abuse present specific and complex challenges for the judiciary, beyond the overarching goal of protecting victims and their children while ensuring due process for the accused. Intimate partner sexual abuse is an important factor in risk assessment; in decision-making in civil, criminal, family, juvenile and probate cases; and in custody and visitation determinations. Thus, it is important for the justice system to have strategies that encourage victims to disclose such abuse and resources for effective offender dispositions and management.
The Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse Course provides current interdisciplinary research from law, medicine and the social sciences that is applicable to judicial decision-making and case management. The site can be treated as a course or as a resource to be consulted as needed.