Exploring stakeholders' perceptions of adult female sexual assault case attrition

Sharon B. Murphy, Victoria L. Banyard, Erin Dudley Fennessey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Previous research has documented both the problem of adult sexual assault case attrition and negative experiences for victims who pursue criminal justice responses. To date, most of this research has focused on calculating attrition statistics or examining juror or justice personnel attitudes. The purpose of the current study was to uncover how views of successes and challenges of criminal justice system responses triangulate across a sample of key stakeholders. Method: Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology formed the philosophical underpinning of the methodology and the collaborative approach to data analysis. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 51 professionals including police, prosecutors, victim witness advocates, sexual assault nurse examiners, and crisis center advocates in 1 northeastern U.S. state. Results: Three themes evolved that included the impact of the CSI effect on prosecutorial decisions and jury outcomes, justice and healing as an expectation of the criminal justice process, and inconsistent responses as a reflection of the variability of knowledge and skill among responders across communities. Conclusions: Themes revealed surprising convergence of views despite differing vantage points among stakeholders. Antidotes to case attrition include a coordinated community of responders and victim-centered approaches to justice and healing. The current study showcases a research method that can help bring together often-divergent professional voices around common goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-184
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Violence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology


  • CSI effect
  • case attrition
  • criminal justice response
  • sexual assault


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