Surviving the Legal System

‘Surviving the Legal System: A Handbook for Adult & Child Sexual Abuse Survivors & Their Supporters’

By Caroline Taylor

Sexual assault, rape and child abuse cases are notoriously harrowing for the survivors, as their word is pitted against that of their assailants.For many, facing the legal world after their assault can be an equally traumatic experience. However, for those survivors who are courageous enough to step forward, seeking redress through the criminal justice system remains vital for their sense of closure and recovery after the assault.

Surviving the Legal System is a much-needed handbook that will prove invaluable to survivors of rape and sexual assault, their counsellors, friends and family members. It is also compelling reading for all members of our community who care about justice.

Written in a way that makes it clearly accessible to any reader, the book provides essential information for all survivors:

• advice on the rights of the survivor

• where to go for help

• reporting the crime to police

• proceeding with the legal process

• explanation of the different courts and their personnel and function

• and prepares survivors for the procedures, strategies and tactics of defence barristers.


The book is drawn from award winning, ground breaking research undertaken by the author and published in another book titled ‘Court Licensed Abuse’. Surviving The Legal System is formally used as a reference tool by police in Victoria and South Australia. It has further been identified in a national study as a ‘valuable resource’ by practitioners and victims (Reference Lievore, D. 2005 ‘No Longer Silent’ rape victims help seeking behaviours. (p. 121) and on several occasions has been cited by victims and victim advocates in media reports as a book of significant value to victims, police and legal professionals (most recently The Advertiser newspaper, South Australia, November 17 and ABC 7.30 report aired on national television November 16 2012). A reviewer of Court Licensed Abuse which appeared in an international law journal in 2007 praised the ‘rigor and diligence’ of Professor Taylor’s research noting its ‘valuable contribution to this field of law.’ (Reference Wheatcroft, J. (2007). Taylor: Court licensed abuse: Patriarchal lore and the legal response to intra-familial sexual abuse of children [book review]. The International Journal of Evidence and Proof, 11(3), 239-241).

Counsellors and survivors from the UK, Ireland, Canada, US, New Zealand, Germany, India and South Africa have reported the value of the book as a tool for assisting survivors prepare for the criminal court process. Much of the feedback makes clear that the ‘legal tactics’ used by lawyers in the courtroom and the associated legal processes are as detailed in Surviving The Legal Process.

This book is available through our web store.

Professor Taylor has donated all proceeds of the book to Children of Phoenix. Your purchase of the book directly assists our charity in the important work we do.


Court Lincesed Abuse

‘Court Licensed Abuse: Patriarchal Lore and the Legal Response to Intrafamilial Sexual Abuse of Children’

By Caroline Taylor


This book is based on award-winning research that analyzes transcripts of intrafamilial child sexual abuse trials.

Building on the contemporary focus of legal trials as hegemonic sites of storytelling from the perspectives of dominant interest groups, the argument is developed in three steps.

The first documents the development of a de facto relationship between law and psychiatry that simultaneously silences and blames victims of sexual violence, and advances a critique of law as narrative.

The second presents a detailed, critical, feminist reading of six trials that are presented as textual case studies.

These show the legal mechanisms through which victim/survivor’s accounts of abuse are transmuted into forms that facilitate the legal and theoretical acquittal of the alleged abuser and replicates – at symbolic and structural levels – those power relations inherent in the original abuse.

The final step in the argument analyzes and synthesizes the structural and thematic patterns in the case studies to show how trials enact a narrative template that maintain a patriarchal status quo around intrafamilial child sexual abuse.

This book is available through Amazon