The Criminal Justice System Response: Trauma-Informed Prosecutions

Research is helping us understand that many of the beliefs and assumptions we have about how a victim of sexual violence should behave is rooted in myth and stereotype and not in science and reality. By better understanding the neurobiology of trauma, police and prosecutors are better able to understand, evaluate and explain victim behaviour, which in turn leads to more sensitive and successful prosecutions. This presentation will explore why a trauma-informed approach is necessary in sexual violence prosecutions, introduce some of the principles of the neurobiology of trauma, and describe the ways in which prosecutors are integrating these ideas into their practice and making sexual violence prosecutions more trauma-informed.


Meaghan Cunningham

East Region Sexual Violence Crown, Ministry of the Attorney General


Meaghan has worked as a Crown Prosecutor in Ottawa since 2003, where she has been responsible for the prosecution of all manner of offences from impaired driving to homicides. Currently, she sits on the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General’s Sexual Violence Advisory Group, and is the East Region Sexual Violence Crown. She has been an invited speaker at many conferences, educational seminars, and training sessions on topics relating to domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking and honour based violence in Ontario and around the country. She has been involved in working groups, task forces and advisory committees provincially and nationally on these topics, and is the course director for the Ontario Crown Attorney’s Association summer school course on Sexual Violence.