Intimate partner rape and the trial process: Research, reflections and reform

This event was held on 8 March 2023 at Parliament in Wellington. Watch the recording from the event.

The event was hosted by the Hon Marama Davidson, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Sexual Violence, in association with the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse and the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation.

About the event

photo of 2 copies of Elisabeth McDonald's book Prosecuting Intimate Partner RapeThe book launch shared research findings from the book by Elisabeth McDonald Prosecuting Intimate Partner Rape: The Impact of Misconceptions on Complainant Experience and Trial Process (Canterbury University Press, 2023). This is the final in a series of three books examining how sexual violence is addressed in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Courts. Elisabeth conducted in-depth analysis of case materials for over 70 adult rape trials from a 10-year period (2010-2020), including both jury and judge-alone trials. Drawing on this research, she will reflect on some of the reforms to law and procedure that may help reduce the negative impacts of participation on victim/survivors as complainants. The book was launched online (Open Access) on the night. It considers the particular and significant in-court challenges for those who have reported experiencing multiple forms of family and sexual violence.

photo of the people who spoke and hosted the eventThe Hon Marama Davidson Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Sexual Violence, spoke at the event responding to the issues raised by the research and about the national strategy to eliminate sexual violence and family violence, Te Aorerekura.

The Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation generously funded the research and its publication. The wider research team supporting this work included Paulette Benton-Greig, Sandra Dickson and Rachel Souness.  


Elisabeth McDonald is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Canterbury. She has taught and published in the areas of sexual and family violence, law and sexuality, criminal law and the law of evidence for over 30 years, as an academic and as the Policy Manager for the evidence law reference at the New Zealand Law Commission. Elisabeth is the author of a number of evidence law textbooks and online legal resources, including Rape Myths as Barriers to Fair Trial Process (Canterbury University Press, 2020) (co-winner of the JF Northey Memorial book prize) and In the Absence of a Jury (Canterbury University Press, 2022), and is also co-editor and co-author of From “Real Rape” to Real Justice (VUP, 2011) and Feminist Judgments Aotearoa: Te Rino, the Two-Stranded Rope (Hart, 2017). In 2018 she became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to law and education. In late 2022 Elisabeth took up a role as Deputy Director Curriculum Design & Delivery at Te Kura Kaiwhakawā | Institute of Judicial Studies.

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