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Re-establishing violated boundaries: Police officers' experiences of handling cases of rape against women

Conference contribution
Authors Lisa Rudolfsson
Published in 41st. Nordic Association for Clinical Sexology (NACS), Gothenburg, Sept. 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)
Language en
Keywords Focus group study; Rape; Police
Subject categories Applied Psychology


Introduction: The quality of the initial police contact after being raped can have great impact on the victim's ability to process and cope with what has happened. This three-year project aims to study how women, who have been raped, perceive the contact with police officers (and medical care givers) and further, what experiences professionals have of these contacts. In our first study, we conducted focus groups with police officers in Sweden, concerning their experiences of handling cases of rape against women. Method: Focus groups with eleven female and five male police officers were conducted. The material was analyzed using inductive thematic analyses. Findings: The participants expressed a strong wish to care for the raped woman and to offer some kind of restoration. They described situations where they had to help the women to fully understand that their boundaries had been violated. In the process of doing so, they used their own care-taking capacity, they were careful with what words they used, and careful not to re-traumatize the woman. They all stressed the need for knowledge to be able to offer the best care and interrogation possible. Furthermore, the participants highlighted their own need for personal support in a challenging work task. Discussion: These findings will generate knowledge that can be used in protecting and caring for raped women and further, to offer adequate training for professionals. Furthermore, the findings highlight the need for the Swedish Police authority to make sure that the police officers are offered support, as well as the need for the Swedish government to prioritize the fight against violence towards women.

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