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In a case that rocked the small town where you live to its very foundation, a five year-old girl, Serena, phoned 911 to report her mommy was asleep on the floor and there was blood all over the place. The little girl tried to wake her mother up before she made the call, but her mother "would not wake up." Serena did not know where her father was, nor did she know her address. Dispatchers kept her on the line until they could get a trace on the call. Law enforcement personnel and an ambulance were immediately dispatched to the scene where they found Serena's mother, Alice, with multiple stab wounds but still alive. Alice was rushed to the hospital while police officers problemed Serena. Serena was understandably upset and had difficulty remembering the sequence of events that led up to her call. But the officers were able to piece together the following information:

Serena had been in her bedroom with her father, who was playing "games" with her. She called these the "daddy games." Serena stated she did not like these games, but she would get in trouble if she did not play. The police could not get a lot of detail out of Serena but learned enough to know that the "daddy games" involved sexual assault.

While Serena and her father were playing the "daddy games," Serena's mother came home from work early and came into Serena's bedroom looking for her. Serena said her father jumped up and yelled at and hit her mother. Then he told Serena to stay in her room and not come out. She heard her parents yelling at each other and heard her father hitting her mother some more. Then everything went quiet. Serena said she was afraid to come out of her room, but she wanted to find her mother and ensure she was okay.

The police turned over Serena to child protective services to be taken for a forensic medical examination. She was then placed in foster care until the case was resolved and the mother capable of caring for her. The police broadcast an all points bulletin with a description of the perpetrator, but he couldn't be found. Over the course of the next several weeks, you would be investigating various aspects of this crime as an assistant to the district attorney. In this role, you would be engaged in many activities, considering the case from many different law enforcement perspectives. You want to ensure that everything is done properly and the district attorney has all the information needed to ensure the perpetrator is locked away for a long time after he is found.

First, the prosecutor would want to know the extent of damages. The physical harm to Alice is apparent, and the prosecutor would have the medical personnel testify regarding those injuries. The bigger problem right now is what the financial, relational, and psychological ramifications would be to Alice and Serena in the short term. What about long-term effects, particularly for Serena?

  • Identify the different types of abuse Serena and her mother were victims of.
  • Identify short-term consequences for each victim.
  • Identify possible long-term consequences for each victim.
  • Discuss the long-term forecast for Serena - how this is likely to affect her life.

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