The work of the forensic psychologist varies by court who requested the preparation of the report in question.
On this occasion, we will know closely how one of these documents is drawn up when the applicant is a judge of violence against women courts. We will find out what can be the most frequent actions of an expert psychologist in this field.
What is expert psychology in the face of violence against women?
To speak of an expert in the psychology of violence against women, we must first give a brief introduction to the work of forensic psychologists in general. These professionals, also recognized as expert psychologists, are the to prepare an expert report in relation to a legal case in which, in one way or another, psychological problems are involved which must be assessed.
It is usually the judge himself who requests your help and therefore each court has a team of psychologists attached to it to prepare these documents. However, either party can also hire a private psychologist to prepare a birth report, if they deem it appropriate.
It is important to clarify that neither in expert psychology in the face of violence against women, nor in other courts, written reports have binding power when it comes to making decisions. This task belongs exclusively to a judge, who will be the one who will dictate the sentence according to his criteria and his knowledge, even if it is true that, not being an expert in psychological questions, he will take into account the report of the psychologists. of his team.
Knowing this, we can now focus on the specific casuistry offered by the cases of an expert in psychology in the face of violence against women. So we would talk about forensic reports written by psychologists to advise court cases of gender-based violenceThat is, specific courts of violence against women.
These courts in Spain were created following the promulgation of the organic law on comprehensive protection measures against gender-based violence. So this is where the concept of expert psychology came into play when dealing with violence against women, as the judges of these new courts needed and need the advice of forensic psychologists in order to be able to make decisions. on some issues they need. their expertise.
Areas of intervention in expert psychology in the face of violence against women
When we talk about areas of intervention in which expert psychology can act in the face of violence against women, we must fundamentally distinguish two well-defined areas. The first of these would be that of expert reports, which we had already anticipated in the introduction to this article.
This report is usually required by the judge in charge of the process, but it can also be requested by the prosecution itself or by one of the lawyers. of the various parties involved in the trial, either of the accused of having exercised violence against the woman, or of the woman herself, the alleged victim of these attacks.
But it is important to note that the work of violence against women courts involves a range of actions in very different areas. For this reason, reports may be requested for proceedings in the civil sphere and others which, on the contrary, belong to the penitentiary establishment. In the case of civilian experts, they may address issues related to the custody and custody of minors, the appropriate visitation regime for them, etc.
Instead, sanctions may be aimed at assessing the mental state of one of the people involved in the trial, assessing the risk that the alleged victim is in danger, the level of danger observed during the trial. sequelae or injuries that may have remained with the complainant of the facts.
But in addition to expert reports, expert psychology in dealing with violence against women can also address issues of care for those involved in the legal process. In this sense, the judge can ask the forensic psychologist to deal with issues related to the confinement, referral or dismissal of one of these people, whether they are women, the alleged aggressor or the victim. their children.
In the case of minors, a psychological examination may also be requested. In all of these cases, what the psychologist will do will be a care report, not an expert report. This is a different job from the cases we saw at the beginning, but they are all expert tasks in psychology in the face of violence against women. In addition, care interventions may take place at different stages of the judicial process, including rapid trials, which are those that are conducted for the possible implementation of precautionary measures.
Forensic reports of violence against women in the civilian area
It should be borne in mind that when it comes to conducting a forensic report within the framework of expert psychology in the face of violence against women, in the civil field, object of the same thing, that is, the request made by the judge, it can generally coincide with what is done, for example, in family courts, without the need to ask a question of violence in the middle .
In this way, reports could be requested for the assessment of the custody and custody as well as the regime of visits of the children, if necessary, either to establish, modify or suspend it.. For this, the parenting capacities of both parents must be assessed. When the time comes, we will also be able to estimate the advisability of a deprivation of parental authority and even of the care of minors by state institutions.
But, of course, when we speak of expert psychology in dealing with violence against women, we must have a number of additional considerations on these general questions. For example, the law prevents parents from reaching an agreement through a mediation process. Likewise, and for obvious reasons, joint intervention by both parents is impractical.
In addition, legally, this could not even be considered, as it is likely that distance measures were established between the aggressor and the victim. It is also common to use family meeting points as a safe area for visits to minors, under the control of a state institution. Likewise, a shared custody regime cannot be considered.
It should never be forgotten that the expert psychologist assesses a family in which he has a history of abuse affecting the mother and even the children themselves. Therefore, if the performance is always to be impeccable, in this context it is even more important, if at all.
Forensic reports of violence against women in criminal matters
But reports in the civilian field are not the only ones that psychology faces in the face of violence against women. They can also assess cases that belong to the criminal zone. Therefore, the subject of the expert opinion can be very varied. The judge may request the assistance of the expert, for example, to assess the mental and / or emotional state of the complainant, the accused, the minors or all.
In the case of the complainant and the minors, the vulnerability factors that may arise can also be studied.. An assessment of the credibility of the testimony may also be requested, if the judge deems it appropriate. Other issues that can be investigated are the possible sequelae in the complainant due to the alleged abuse. You can even estimate your risk.
Other evidence can also be sought from minors, for example to assess the possible existence of physical and psychological violence against them, or even sexual violence. The forensic psychologist may also be asked to assess the manipulation or possible alienation of minors by the parents.
With respect to the accused, other issues that may be addressed by experts in the psychology of violence against women are those linked to assessment of their cognitive and volitional capacities and therefore the degree of responsibility in the event of the commission of an alleged crime. The likelihood of consuming substances that may affect these abilities can also be estimated.
Of course, the judge can also ask for an expert report in order to know the danger of the subject as well as the risk that he commits violent behavior towards the complainant or other people.
- Echeburúa, E., Fernández-Montalvo, J. de l’Corral, P. (2009). Predictions of the risk of homicide and serious violence in relationships. Valence: Queen Sofia Center for the Study of Violence.
- Hirigoyen, MF (2005). Abused women, the mechanisms of violence within the couple. Paidos.
- Pagès, FJ, Racó, PP (2004). Women victims of gender-based violence. Editorial pyramid.