Justice system and secondary victimization of children and or adolescents victims of sexual violence in the family

Eliana Mendes de Souza Teixeira Roque Maria das Graças Carvalho Ferriani Romeu Gomes Lygia Maria Pereira da Silva Diene Monique Carlos About the authors

The present paper addresses the results of research conducted in collaboration with judges into the interrogation of child and adolescent victims of sexual abuse. The theoretical framework used was based on the Ecological Systems Theory. Qualitative research methods were used, with a semi- structured survey and free observation in different jurisdictions. The data was examined using thematic content analysis, through which two categories stand out: “lack of training and limitations” and “secondary abuse”. In the former, an unprepared judge will, when interrogating, resort to a technique based on practice, life experience and instincts, without following the necessary structural procedures. The rationale used is based on common sense. “Secondary abuse” clearly shows that local judicial intervention methods can be seen to re-victimize children and adolescents, since they only hear the victim’s testimony, on successive occasions, in order to obtain evidence to incriminate the aggressor. Acting in this way may generate discord between the immediate priority and the absolute priority guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution. The judicial system does not show itself to be organized towards prioritizing issues involving children and adolescents, whether in terms of handling the possible implications of a hearing or discussing new approaches to preventing secondary abuse towards victims of sexual abuse. The field of health can support the justice system on this issue. To do this the problem must be approached from an interdisciplinary perspective, although the justice system is ultimately responsible for the solution.

Justice Systems; Domestic Sexual Abuse; Judges of Law; Children and Adolescents


Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo. Associação Paulista de Saúde Pública. Av. dr. Arnaldo, 715, Prédio da Biblioteca, 2º andar sala 2, 01246-904 São Paulo - SP - Brasil, Tel./Fax: +55 11 3061-7880 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil
E-mail: saudesoc@usp.br