Sarah Kendall is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work lies at the intersection of law, science, and social science. She has expertise in criminal law and procedure, evidence law, and national security, and broadly researches the nature, effectiveness and appropriateness of measures used to prevent and respond to crime and threats to the state. Currently, her research focuses on emerging (typically cyber) national security threats, such as espionage, foreign interference, and sabotage. Her interdisciplinary doctoral thesis investigates whether the criminal trial is informed by victim-witnesses’ brain injury and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), using the domestic violence offence of non-fatal strangulation (NFS) as a case study. This research is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship.

Sarah’s research has been featured in leading law journals, such as the Melbourne University Law Review, Sydney Law Review, and Public Law Review. She also regularly writes for The Conversation, makes submissions to government, and appears in the media. In addition to her research, Sarah has taught Foundations of Law and Evidence Law at UQ. 

Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Laws (with first-class honours) from UQ. She also has a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and is admitted as a lawyer to the Supreme Court of Queensland. She works as a Legal Officer at the Australian Law Reform Commission.

HDR project title

A Trauma-Informed Non-Fatal Strangulation Trial: Victim-Witnesses, Brain Injury and PTSD.


Dr Caitlin Goss (UQ Law), Associate Professor Robin Fitzgerald (UQ Social Science) and Professor Heather Douglas (Uni of Melb, UQ Law honorary professor) 

Project overview

Sarah’s doctoral thesis investigates whether the NFS trial is informed by victim-witnesses’ brain injury and/or PTSD. Strangulation obstructs blood flow to the brain which can result in anoxic-hypoxic brain injury (‘AHBI’) in victims. As a life-threatening and terrifying event, strangulation victims can also develop PTSD. Both AHBI and PTSD can impact on victims’ cognitive, affective and behavioural functions, including by impacting on their memory. This can affect their credibility as witnesses which has implications both for the prosecution case and how victims are treated throughout the trial process.

Sarah’s thesis uses the concept of trauma-informed practice to frame her research. She is investigating the extent to which lawyers are aware that AHBI and PTSD are possible effects of NFS, and whether they can recognise the signs and symptoms of these conditions in victims. She is also investigating whether the approach of lawyers to the prosecution and defence of NFS cases is informed by these conditions and, if not, what law, policy and/or practice reforms could be recommended. Sarah intends for the results of this research to be used to improve the experience of NFS (and other domestic violence) victims who testify at trial.