Sexual violence victims and the polygraph

In the News

Sexual violence victims and the polygraph

September 18, 2018

UW Medicine expert on trauma survivors interviewed by The Daily Beast

Emily Dworkin, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors at UW Medicine told The Daily Beast that pressure to prove their stories through polygraph can cause more stress for sexual violence survivors.

Dworkin was interviewed in a story about Christine Blasey Ford, an accuser of a sexual assault attempt by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“It is common for survivors to have their credibility or honesty questioned when they disclose a sexual assault, even in less high-profile cases,” Dworkin said in an email to The Daily Beast.

“We know from the research that this suspicion is harmful in that it leads fewer survivors to report their assaults and has psychological consequences for those who do,” she continued. “The research on survivors' experiences disclosing sexual assault has been clear on the harm of doubting survivors' stories or asking them to prove their honesty: survivors who are disbelieved or whose credibility is questioned experience more symptoms of posttraumatic stress than survivors who are believed, even months later.”