Harper Wave Books: Unexpected Perspectives on Mind, Body, and Soul

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    Sep 28, 2021
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Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers

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About the Book

In this landmark book, a former prosecutor, legal expert, and leading authority on sexual violence examines why allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse are often not believed—and why we live in a nation that is both culturally and legally structured to doubt and dismiss accusers.

Sexual misconduct accusations rest on competing claims: her word against his. How do we decide who is telling the truth? The answer comes down to credibility. But as this eye-opening book reveals, deciding which side to believe isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Our judgment is complicated by invisible forces—false assumptions and hidden biases imbedded in our culture, our legal system, and our psyches—that create blind spots impairing our ability to accurately hear and respond fairly.

In Credible, Deborah Tuerkheimer provides a much-needed framework to help us better understand credibility, explaining how we perceive it, how and why our perceptions are distorted, and how those distortions harm individual lives. Because of societal hierarchies and inequalities, who we disbelieve is predictable and patterned, leading to what Tuerkheimer calls the “credibility discount”—our dismissal of certain kinds of statements by certain kinds of speakers, including women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA, immigrants, and other marginalized individuals.

The rise of the #MeToo movement has exposed this inequity—how these victims have been badly served by a system that is not designed to protect them. Using case studies, moving first-hand accounts, science, and the law, Tuerkheimer identifies patterns and their causes, analyzes the role of power, and examines the close, reciprocal relationship between culture and law—to help us more clearly determine who and what is credible.

#MeToo has touched off a massive reckoning. Credible helps us forge a path forward to ensuring fair, equitable treatment of the countless individuals affected by sexual misconduct.