Friday, March 24, 2023
Jennifer Koshan (Calgary), Challenging Myths and Stereotypes in Domestic Violence Cases, Canadian Journal of Family Law (forthcoming). Here is the abstract:
Survivors of domestic violence, who are disproportionately women, face numerous myths and stereotypes about the veracity, nature, and extent of violence they and their children experience. False or faulty assumptions about domestic violence can have serious implications for the impartiality of legal actors and can result in harm to women and children. This article identifies the ongoing influence of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence, focusing on the common and evolving misconceptions legal actors have about survivors and the violence they experience. It reviews the literature on myths and stereotypes to catalogue the erroneous assumptions about domestic violence that have been identified and rebutted by scholars and advocates, also exploring why these assumptions can be so entrenched. This review reveals two overarching and related categories of myths and stereotypes about domestic violence: those about survivors’ credibility, and those about the nature and harms of domestic violence. The article then examines the Supreme Court of Canada’s guidance on these myths and stereotypes in criminal and family law decisions, also drawing on sexual assault decisions where there are gaps in recognition. Although some myths and stereotypes about domestic violence and survivors remain to be refuted, the article argues that the Court has provided a strong basis for obliging lower courts and other legal actors to avoid these myths and stereotypes in their decisions. The article concludes with recommendations for addressing myths and stereotypes about domestic violence, focusing on education for judges and other legal actors.