Whose Credibility Is It Anyway: Professional Authority and Relevance in Forensic Nurse Examinations of Sexual Assault Survivors

Gethin Rees


There is an inherent tension in the information gathering and recording stages of the forensic medical examination of rape survivors. Medical practitioners do not wish to record information that can undermine a complainant’s credibility, but at the same time must ensure that they do not problematise their own credibility by appearing partisan (for instance, by omitting information that might be relevant). Drawing upon semi-structured interviews with Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) and their trainers (Forensic Medical Examiners) in England, and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) in Ontario, this paper will investigate the strategies that both sets of nurses employ in order to document medical, sexual and assault histories, as well as physical phenomena (injuries, tattoos and piercings). FNEs collect more potentially prejudicial information than SANEs; this is a result of their greater anxiety in regards to their perceived credibility and professional authority.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/res.v4n4p110

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Review of European Studies   ISSN 1918-7173 (Print)   ISSN 1918-7181 (Online)

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