Tuesday Oct 12, 2021

Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers w/ Deborah Tuerkheimer


Deborah Tuerkheimer

In the past couple of years we have watched as, finally, powerful men who are also sexual predators have been brought to some form of justice. Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Charlie Rose, and Matt Lauer among the most prominent. What we learned from watching their downfall is how very hard it is to have these men held to account. 

Author Deborah Tuerkheimer and I talk about her book Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers and the systems and beliefs that create this reality. 

I've had a lot of meaningful conversations over the years of doing this podcast and I can honestly say that I think this is one of the most important. Increasing the number of abusers held to account and changing the dynamic of how accusers are treated is on all of us. Talking with Deborah showed me some of my own knowledge gaps around sexual assault and put into high relief how pervasive some of our thought patterns about abuse are.

I left the conversation feeling energized and more aware of ways to change these patterns. We all know women who have been sexually assaulted, we ourselves may be among them. To change these patterns, in society and ourselves, we have to be aware of them. 

Listen to this conversation and then please take action. 

About Deborah:

Author of the book Credible: Why We Doubt Accusers and Protect Abusers Deborah Tuerkheimer is a professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her law degree from Yale Law School. Tuerkheimer served for five years as an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney's Office, where she specialized in domestic violence and child abuse prosecution. 

For a written transcript of this conversation please click here. 

Action Steps:

1) See that judging credibility is a power, it is a mighty power, and that the ways in which we confer credibility or dismiss people who come to us can impact that person in deep and lasting ways.
2) We can rewire ourselves to be more fair when we decide who to believe and who to blame and whether to care.
3) There are policies in your schools, in your workplaces, in your states, that are flawed, and that reflect these forces that we've been talking about, the credibility discount in particular. And so there are lots of ways that we can improve those formal rules and those formal policies and procedures to be more just and more fair.
Pick one policy and work to make it just and fair, then move on to the next and keep going.


This truly remarkable book is available everywhere so please support your local bookseller. Jeff Bezos has enough money.

Connect with Deborah:

Harmonica music courtesy of a friend

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