“Rape is not what we see on TV,” said Dr. Barbara Ziv to jurors during Harvey Weinstein’s trial in Los Angeles, when prosecutors called her on Tuesday to testify about the “rape myth” — in other words, debunking common sense — held true. social issues of rape and sexual violence.
“Most of what people believe is not true or supported by the facts,” Ziv said, telling the judge that the behavior of rape victims was “contrary to knowledge.”
Ziv is a licensed psychiatrist and therapist who specializes in all aspects of sexual violence, assessing the behavior of victims and perpetrators. During his decades-long medical career, he has worked with more than a thousand victims, but has nothing to do with the Weinstein case and has never worked with the Jane Does who claim but was abused by Weinstein. .
Ziv testified as an expert in Weinstein’s first criminal trial in New York City in 2020, as well as Bill Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault trial in New York City. Pennsylvania.
Ziv stayed on stage for hours. After her presentation to the jury, Weinstein’s defense attorney, Alan Jackson, took Ziv to heart, focusing on the differences between the legal and medical definitions of rape and acceptance.
“You testified to the myth of rape… These are broad definitions of behavior,” Jackson said, to which Ziv replied, “I’m here to educate the truth about sexual violence. “
Ziv was called by the prosecution as an expert to strengthen their case. Hopefully, later in the trial, the defense will call a doctor or medical expert to weigh in on memory loss and other issues that will offer the jury a different perspective than the study and intellectual work by Ziv.
Memory is difficult, Ziv explained to the judges, and victims of sexual assault retain memories of the “central trauma” forever, but may lose the smaller details of the attack — such as the day , the time, the clothes of the wearer, etc. for many years.
“If people don’t report quickly, they say they don’t remember years later,” Ziv said. “It’s not that they’re lying … people are trying to give their best … they’re trying to remember.”
Ziv explained that while police sometimes use these “memory issues” to indicate that a victim is not trustworthy, this is changing as understanding of rape victims has progressed in recent years.
In his presentation, Ziv debunked the “rape myth,” telling the jury that much of the behavior the public perceives as rape victims is not true, according to those who report it. psychiatrist who specializes in sexual violence.
Rape often happens between people who know each other, although most people believe that the attacks are often committed by strangers, Ziv said. “Most people are raped by other people they know,” he told the judge. He explained that while “stranger rape” does exist, the majority of sexual violence is between people who know each other in some way, unlike what is commonly portrayed on television and in movies.
Victims of sexual violence do not fight back against their attackers, although most people believe they will fight back, the psychiatrist told the judge. “Most people don’t mind,” Ziv said. “Even verbal snarls and violent screams are not as common as we think. … This is counter-intuitive. You will think that if you are violated, you will fight back. He added: “The bottom line is, it’s not.”
During the interrogation, Jackson asks Ziv if “some of them fight.” He replied, “Some,” and then continued, “Do some women fight? For sure. The myth is that it’s normal.” Jackson then asked, “Some people scream and scream and scream?” Ziv responded in kind, and replied, “Some.”
Ziv told the judge that victims of sexual violence often do not report quickly, even though most people believe that they would go to the police if they were assaulted..
“Sex is an unknown crime,” said Ziv. “Even if it is reported, it is rarely prosecuted.”
She explained that when victims report an assault, it is often not to the authorities, but perhaps to a friend or family member – but not saying anything is also common. Ziv says there is a “large percentage [that] at any time in his life.” A feeling of “shame” is why many victims don’t talk about their assaults, he said, but there are many reasons why victims can’t. “It’s very difficult to talk about.” The psychiatrist added, “They are afraid of the backlash … intruding on their private lives … afraid of being labeled a promiscuous or a liar.”
Ziv told the judge that the reaction of a victim of sexual violence after an attack, whether happy or sad, does not mean that someone has been victimized or not. “Behavior changes after having sex,” he said. “You can’t tell if someone has been sexually assaulted as a result of their behavior.”
Victims of sexual violence often continue to have contact with their perpetrators after the assault, Ziv explained, noting that the popular belief is that people will never see or talk to their rapist again. was a rape victim. He testified that most people see their perpetrators again, and may continue to associate with them for a variety of reasons.
“People work in the same circle,” he said, explaining that victims may not want their classmates to see what happened. “Being sexually assaulted by someone you know is a very shameful thing.”
The reason victims of sexual violence may talk to the perpetrator is because they “want to know” or they want an apology. Often, conflicts continue because victims fear retaliation and “certain damage,” Ziv said, especially when the perpetrators are in positions of power. “When an evildoer destroys other aspects of your life … those things affect your path forever.”
Ziv also told the judge that it is common for victims of sexual assault to have sex with their attacker later. “A lot of times people feel like they’re just damaged goods, and nobody else wants it so they start acting like damaged goods.”
Jackson confronts Ziv, asking, “Do some people walk away from their attackers?”
“Yes,” he replied.
And when he asked, “Somebody go to the police right away?” He answered, “Some.”