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Reuters | In Cosby Criminal Case, Accuser's Turn to Face Scrutiny

(07/06/2016) Experts in sexual trauma say victims often display behavior that appears on the surface to be inconsistent with assault.

"Society still has this expectation that rape victims will behave in one particular way, and we know that victims don't behave that way," said Jennifer Long, a former Pennsylvania prosecutor whose nonprofit AEquitas advises prosecutors on sexual assault cases.

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Pennsylvania still allows juries to consider whether a victim promptly reported a sexual assault as a factor in determining credibility. Long, the former prosecutor, said that can be unfair to victims, who may have to work through feelings of shame and gather the courage to report sexual violence.

"There can be self-blame for the rape," she said. "There can be a fear of not being believed."

Similarly, Long said, studies have shown that many sexual assault victims remain in contact with their attackers for a variety of reasons including to reassert control or simply to try to understand what happened.

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