The psychiatrist working with a child witness in a sexual abuse case is at an intrinsic disadvantage. Most of the activities take place in a legal system where the psychiatrist may feel like a stranger in a strange land. Further, a major area of concern to the courts is cognitive development and memory, which unlike phenomenology, dynamics, and therapeutics, are somewhat remote from the psychiatrist's core expertise. It is not surprising, then, that the stress associated with the role of child advocate or expert witness often produces anxiety for the psychiatrist or may result in a frank avoidance of forensic tasks. This paper is intended to militate against such a reaction by familiarizing the psychiatrist with the salient issues of the sexually abused child as a witness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health