All too often, when assisting a client in the Emergency Room, I end up advocating for her claim to the medical and law enforcement staff. I think they have seen way too many wackos or drug seeking or attention seeking folks that they become jaded.
Child victims automatically get sympathy and the staff will do pretty much anything they can to assist. Teen victims often find themselves on either side of the coin . . . . depending upon the first story told. For example, one time one of our volunteers was greeted by a cop who opened with "she's 14, and she's already been pregnant once." The volunteer took the cop's statement to mean that it pretty much didn't matter what had happened to her, it wasn't going to be taken seriously because she was a "bad kid." And, adult victims need to fit a particular behavior pattern in order to be believed.
Recently, while in the ER, we were attending to a woman who was remarkable in her strength and independence. She'd been assaulted by a "date." She explained that for religious reasons she'd been celibate for several years and she was in the "get to know you phase" with the man in question. She described still being "in awe" that he would rape her. She also gave one of the best descriptions of defending herself I've ever heard. She was articulate and cooperative. She thought through her responses and was pleasant to the staff -- understanding that the discomfort wasn't really their fault. And, as I was waiting to see if her adult daughter had questions, a nurse asked me "what do you think?" The real question being "should I waste my time believing her?"
I know people think I'm hopeless for being so willing to believe what my clients tell me. But, we're even because I think they are hopeless because they are so willing to disbelieve everyone.