The Ann Ottney Cain Lecture in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
Shattering Silence: Clinical Perspectives on Sexual Violence 1970 – 2020
This event has been postponed until further notice.
This lecture will trace the changing historical context for sexual violence over the past 50 years and explore the implications of this for current clinical practice, as well as for our understanding of both victims and perpetrators. It will provide evidence-based guidance on the presenting characteristics and behaviors of sexual predators and outline best practices for using trauma-informed approaches in the assessment and treatment of victims of abuse. And, it will probe the progress made or not made with regard to our legal and clinical responses to sexual violence and the impact of this on victims, offenders, and society at large.
Although the issues of sexual assault and sexual violence have vaulted into the headlines, the slow, hard scientific work to understand victims and perpetrators has been the focus of our presenter’s research, publication, and teaching for close to 50 years.
A true pioneer in the field of victimology and forensic nursing, Ann Wolbert Burgess, DNSc, MS '59, APRN, FAAN, is recognized for her landmark contributions to understanding sexual violence. In an era in which rape was not discussed, Burgess and her colleague, Lynda Lytle Holstrom, began one of the very first hospital-based programs for rape victims. Their resulting publication in 1973 in the American Journal of Nursing, of findings drawn from their interviews of 146 rape victims aged 3-73, “The Rape Victim in the Emergency Ward,” called into question victims’ treatment by police, health care institutions, and the criminal justice system; raised the notion that rape was about power and control; and advocated crisis counseling for victims. Burgess and Holstrom’s subsequent 1974 publication in the American Journal of Psychiatry, “Rape Trauma Syndrome,” introduced the term into the scientific literature, delineated the syndrome’s symptomatology, and noted that one of the variations, the silent rape reaction, required clinicians to be “alert to indications of the possibility of rape…even when the patient never mentions the attack.” Fast forward, the prolific Burgess recently published the substantially revised third edition of her seminal text, Victimology: Theories and Applications, and provided the Afterword to The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime.
Most recently, Burgess entered popular culture as the role model for the television character, Dr. Wendy Carr, in the Netflix series Mindhunter. It is based on Burgess’ work with the FBI interviewing victims and systematically cataloging information from these interviews, as well as subsequent efforts to understand the minds of serial killers, which contributed to a criminal profiling system and was the first to establish connections between a killer’s past trauma and subsequent crimes. In keeping with her commitment to the advanced education and practice of nurses, Burgess, a board-certified psychiatric clinical nurse specialist, only regrets that her fictional self was portrayed as a psychologist rather than a nurse.
- Participants will explore the changing historical perspectives of sexual violence in the United States between 1970 and today.
- Participants will identify the presenting personality and characteristics of sexual predators.
- Participants will assess and evaluate clinically significant individual characteristics through case studies.
- Participants will learn current research findings and what advanced practice nurses need to know about forensic science.
Ann Wolbert Burgess, DNSc, MS '59, APRN, FAAN
Professor of Psychiatric Nursing
Boston College Connell School of Nursing
Ann Wolbert Burgess, DNSc, APRN, FAAN, is an internationally recognized pioneer in the assessment and treatment of victims of trauma and abuse. Her research with victims began when she co-founded, with Boston College sociologist Lynda Lytle Holmstrom, one of the first hospital-based crisis counseling programs at Boston City Hospital. She then worked with FBI Academy special agents to study serial offenders, and the links between child abuse, juvenile delinquency, and subsequent perpetration. Her work with nursing colleague Carol Hartman led to the study of very young victims and the impact of trauma on their growth and development, their families, and communities. Her work continues in the study of elder abuse in nursing homes, cyberstalking, and Internet sex crimes.
Burgess is recognized as a pioneer in the study of sexual assault and has been a leader in the development of the discipline of forensic nursing. She has received numerous honors include the Sigma Theta Tau International Audrey Hepburn Award, the American Nurses’ Association Hildegard Peplau Award, and the Inaugural Ann Burgess Forensic Nursing Award from the International Association of Forensic Nurses. In 2016, she was named a Living Legend by the American Academy of Nursing.
Burgess has testified as an expert witness in more than 30 states and has received research grants and published on a broad array of topics, including rape trauma, child sexual abuse, child pornography, serial offenders, and posttraumatic stress.
Burgess is Professor of Psychiatric Nursing at Boston College’s William F. Connell School of Nursing and is a board-certified psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. She received her Doctor of Nursing Science degree and her BS in Nursing from Boston University, and her master’s degree from the University of Maryland School of Nursing.