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Reporting Violence to Police: A Survey of Victims Attending Domestic Violence Services

NCJ Number
Emma Birdsey; Lucy Snowball
Date Published
October 2013
9 pages

This study investigated the number of domestic violence victims who seek help from domestic violence services but choose not to report the violence to law enforcement.


Findings from the study include the following: 51.8 percent of victims reported their most recent incidence of violence to the police; victims were more likely to report the violence to police for a variety of reasons - if they had a protective order against the offender, if their property had been damaged, if they were physically injured, or they felt their children were at risk; and victims were less likely to report the incidence to police if they were pregnant or had experienced five or more previous incidents of abuse. Data for the study were obtained from a sample of women (n=300) receiving domestic violence services across NSW. The women completed a survey covering reasons for not reporting incidences to police and reasons for not telling or getting help from a professional, among other items. The study found that the three most common reasons for not reporting domestic violence incidents to police were 1) the victims were afraid of revenge or further violence from the perpetrator; 2) the victim was too ashamed or embarrassed by the incident; and 3) the victim believed the incident to be too trivial or unimportant. These findings suggest the need for increasing education efforts for the public and the police about the nature of domestic violence abuse, including the range and seriousness of the behaviors that domestic violence encompasses. 5 tables, 2 figures, and 10 references