A Northwestern University law professor and former prosecutor explores how the matter of credibility—an unequally allocated resource—is at the heart of a legal system that usually fails to protect victims of sexual abuse. Drawing on case studies, first-hand accounts, science and law, Tuerkheimer identifies widespread patterns, analyzes the role of power and examines the close, reciprocal relationship between culture and law in the construction of credibility.
Harrowing survivor stories and the lack of easy solutions make Credible a difficult but necessary read urging individuals to start changing the way they think about allegations of abuse and the women who make them. Essential for public libraries.
Tuerkheimer...paints an enlightening and deeply disturbing portrait of how bias affects the way society views the victims of sexual assault or abuse and the alleged perpetrators ... With recently overturned sexual misconduct convictions like Bill Cosby’s in the news, this is a relevant and significant study that will leave readers reeling but also hopeful that this knowledge can be used to prevent assault and abuse.
The book’s analysis is both layered and nuanced, and the language is precise, passionate, and clear. While the author provides detailed explorations of the effects of race and class on sexual assault claims, she offers little acknowledgment of the impacts of disability or queerness on credibility. Particularly glaring is the absence of examples involving trans women, who suffer much higher rates of sexual assault and violence than their cisgendered peers. Still, this book is an important addition to an ongoing conversation. A trenchant analysis of how flawed notions about credibility fuel a wide variety of societal inequalities.