Court proceedings are an attempt to apply justice by taking into account evidence and proofs that allow us to know as much as possible about what has happened in the past so that, on the basis of these facts, it is possible to ‘to apply the law.
However, all this is greatly complicated when the information to be considered does not concern specific objects or places, but patterns of behavior or even psychological processes, phenomena which by their very nature are very difficult to translate into lawsuits. they have not directly embodied in videos, recordings… Something which, in any case, does not allow an infallible and totally free from bias interpretation.
In these cases, forensic psychology is of great importance, the branch of legal psychology that helps to develop legal proceedings by providing all the relevant information to know as precisely as possible what happened and its implications. criminal or judicial. In this sense, we will speak here of how forensic psychology can be used to help defend against a charge of abuse.
The Psychological Implications of Abuse
Cases of abuse can occur even if they do not leave sequelae that are easily observable and identifiable as such. The classic example is the conjugal or romantic relationship in which the person who is used to attacking and putting the other in a position of victimization never resorts to physical violence, but limits himself to harming him by insults, constant humiliations, etc.
It may seem that even if everything is done verbally and avoiding leaving anything in writing, there is no way to show that such abuse occurred in the absence of witnesses; however, abuse is very rare in this kind of vacuum, and in the vast majority of cases it leaves clues that give clues to its existence, both in the victim and in the aggressor. Even if past actions are not palpable, this does not mean that they are not objective phenomena. and that, therefore, they cannot be studied on the basis of objective facts.
This has implications for the defense of allegations of abuse. And there are certain patterns of behavior and ways of externalizing emotions and ideas that reduce the plausibility of the hypothesis of assaults that can be interpreted as ill-treatment, or at least not according to the explanations given by the prosecution. Let’s look at this in more detail in the next section.
How to defend oneself from an accusation of ill-treatment by forensic psychology?
They exist different ways to defend yourself against an accusation of abuse by forensic psychologybut generally all of them can be classified into three categories.
- Realization of an expert report on the accused person, showing conduct incompatible with the accusation.
- Realization of an expert report on the accused, in which the consequences of victimization are reflected in the face of an alleged dynamic of manipulation by the accused.
- Carry out a cross-examination or an evaluation analysis in response to a previous expert report which provides elements in favor of the hypothesis of ill-treatment by the accused.
In the first two cases, from forensic psychology information is provided that helps to contextualize or refute some or all of the evidence provided by the prosecution to try to prove that there was abuse.
For example, it may be that the use of certain words that could be interpreted as outright insults and that are part of a pattern of behavior that corresponds to emotional abuse is, in fact, a BDSM-type sexual play routine (and therefore previously consensual and with mechanisms to know when to stop at any time), or even evidence or clues can show that the accused is not even the main person interested in these dynamics, but that everything arises on the initiative the other.
Another example would be the case of a person accused of abuse who has a long history of displaying an attitude of complete submission to the fear of threats of denunciation, and that in situations where it would be reasonable to take complete control of the relationship in the event or displaying violent and/or authoritarian tendencies does the opposite, without it being considered an anomaly by either party (suggesting that is what usually happens in such cases).
In the third case, that of the counter-expertise and the evaluative analysis, of forensic psychology an evaluative report of a previous expert report is produced. In the evaluative analysis counter-arguments and alternative explanations are presented to the objective information envisaged in the production of this first report.
On the other hand, in the counter-expertise they will be analyzed any methodological flaws or limitations not previously commented on in the expert report on which the work is done, so that in making the judgment richer information is available, full of nuances and, therefore, with less likelihood of being biased. Thus, while in the assessment report of a psychological expertise more in-depth issues are addressed, while in the counter-expertise technical and formal issues are addressed.
It must be said that a psychological expertise it is not a document of the person who hires him: the psychologist is not “bound” by the interests of the client or assumes the role of a lawyer, but is limited to exploring a specific question in search of information that has not been taken into account and can be relevant in a trial. This unifies important information to prepare the defense in a trial, defense attorneys have the opportunity to ask key questions in the trial based on what is reflected in the expert opinion, and can be better countered.
Are you looking for forensic psychology services for expert reports?
If you would like to benefit from psychological support in the context of a trial related to an accusation of ill-treatment, please contact us.
In Azor & Associates we have been providing not only psychotherapy but also forensic psychology services for many years; we intervene in cases of accusations of mobbing or intimidation, abuse within the framework of the family or the couple, in the face of the need to make counter-reports, for cases in which it is necessary to evaluate the parental competence of the parents or the imputability of a person, the evaluation of the psychological sequelae after an attack or an accident, etc. You will find us in Madrid and Tres Cantos.
- Acuff, C.; Bisbing, Steven; G., Michael; Grossman, L.; Porter, J.; Reichbart, R.; Sparta, S.; Walker, EC (August 1999). “Guidelines for psychological assessments in child protection”. American psychologist. 54 (8): 586–593.
- Adler, JR (2004). Forensic psychology: concepts, debates and practice. Cullompton: Willan.
- American Psychiatric Association (2013), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.), Arlington: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Lin, R. (2005). Forensic Psychology: Fundamentals.. San José, Costa Rica.: Universidad Estatal a Distancia.