Winner, 2017 Margaret Mead Award presented by the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology
Honorable Mention, 2015 Eileen Basker Memorial Prize presented by the Society for Medical Anthropology
Every year in the U.S., thousands of women and hundreds of men participate in sexual assault forensic examinations. Drawing on four years of participatory research in a Baltimore emergency room, Sameena Mulla reveals the realities of sexual assault response in the forensic age. Taking an approach developed at the intersection of medical and legal anthropology, she analyzes the ways in which nurses work to collect and preserve evidence while addressing the needs of sexual assault victims as patients.
Mulla argues that blending the work of care and forensic investigation into a single intervention shapes how victims of violence understand their own suffering, recovery, and access to justice—in short, what it means to be a “victim”. As nurses race the clock to preserve biological evidence, institutional practices, technologies, and even state requirements for documentation undermine the way in which they are able to offer psychological and physical care. Yet most of the evidence they collect never reaches the courtroom and does little to increase the number of guilty verdicts. Mulla illustrates the violence of care with painstaking detail, illuminating why victims continue to experience what many call “secondary rape” during forensic intervention, even as forensic nursing is increasingly professionalized. Revictimization can occur even at the hands of conscientious nurses, simply because they are governed by institutional requirements that shape their practices.
The Violence of Care challenges the uncritical adoption of forensic practice in sexual assault intervention and post-rape care, showing how forensic intervention profoundly impacts the experiences of violence, justice, healing and recovery for victims of rape and sexual assault.
Introduction: Sexual Violence in the City 1
1. “The Hand of God”: DNA and Victim Subjectivity in 37
Sexual Assault Intervention
2. Making Time: Temporalities of Law, Healing, and
Sexual Violence 57
3. On Truth and Disgust: Managing Emotion in the Forensic 76
4. Re/production: Articulating Paths to Healing and Justice 103
5. Facing Victims: Vision and Visage in the Forensic Exam 130
6. Documentary Agency: Institutional Dispositions toward 152
Gender and Rape Myths
7. There Is No Place Like Home: Home, Harm, and Healing 176
8. Patient and Victim Compliance: Drugs, AIDS, and Local 195
Geographies of Care
Conclusion: “We’re Not There for the Victim”: The Violence 217
of Forensic Care
About the Author 277
"The book is a masterful call to reflection and reform. It deserves to be read by scholars in any discipline concerned with institutional responses to sexual violence and how they transform patient-provider encounters in spaces where medicine and law converge." ~Theoretical Criminology
"[A] book that is both personal, critical, profound and at times difficult to read." ~Metapsychology
"Once in a while comes along a book that not only adds a new dimension to existing knowledge of a phenomenon but changes our angle of vision on it. The Violence of Care is such a book. Through the lens of forensic nursing, Sameena Mulla rearranges categories of law, violence, care, kinship, and obligation, shifting our horizon of thought and allowing new aspects of these familiar categories to dawn on us. A stunning achievement." ~Veena Das,Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University