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Accounting for the "Second Assault": Legal Organizations' Framing of Rape Victims

Patricia Yancey Martin and R. Marlene Powell
Law & Social Inquiry
Vol. 19, No. 4 (Autumn, 1994), pp. 853-890
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Bar Foundation
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/828885
Page Count: 38
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Accounting for the "Second Assault": Legal Organizations' Framing of Rape Victims
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Abstract

What organizational and community conditions influence legal officials to treat rape victims "unresponsively"? Our analysis is guided by Goffman's theory of organizational frameworks and frames of activity and March and Olsen's institutional theory of organizations. Using data from 130 organizations in Florida that process rape cases, we compare six types of organizations (including hospital emergency rooms and rape crisis centers) on eight criteria and review their frameworks and frames of activity relative to unresponsiveness. We use the issue of victim legitimacy to illustrate the utility of our model. Our results show that well-meaning staff in legal organizations are oriented to routinely treat victims unresponsively. Their organizations routinely orient them to be concerned with, for example, public approval, the avoidance of losing, and expediency more than with victims' needs. In our conclusion, we identify ways legal officials and rape crisis centers can promote responsive treatment of victims. We also call for research on legal organizations that are responsive to victims and for a nationwide discourse on the "politics of rape victims' needs" as a means of addressing the gender inequality issues that underlie rape crimes and laws and orient legal officials to treat victims unresponsively.

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