Trauma-informed lawyering in the context of civil claims for sexual violence

Nikki Godden-Rasul*, Clare Wiper

*Corresponding author for this work

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Over the last decade, there has been an increase in civil compensation claims for sexual violence in the United Kingdom (UK). Given that trauma-informed approaches have been called for in relation to legal responses to sexual violence, we put forward seven key principles of trauma-informed lawyering in this context and draw on interviews with UK-based civil lawyers who represented sexual violence survivors to explore the extent to which trauma-informed work is taking place. While we found that our sample of lawyers typically had a very good knowledge of sexual violence and the trauma that it can cause, there was less certainty about how to accommodate the impacts in practice. Moreover, there was a tendency to prioritize individual healing and medicalize a form of social injustice. We conclude by emphasizing the need for legal training and education on a trauma-informed approach that accounts for the social and political dimensions of sexual violence and trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-211
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number2
Early online date29 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024

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