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WHY WOMEN DO NOT REPORT SEXUAL ASSAULT

NCJ Number
59442
Author(s)
L BELDEN
Date Published
1979
Length
38 pages
Annotation
REASONS VICTIMS DO NOT REPORT SEXUAL ASSAULT ARE EXAMINED IN A SURVEY OF 35 VICTIMS, AND SUGGESTIONS FOR INCREASING REPORTING AND CHANGING PUBLIC ATTITUDES CONCERNING RAPE ARE PRESENTED.
Abstract
THE STUDY WAS BASED PRIMARILY ON INTERVIEWS WITH WOMEN WHO DID NOT REPORT BEING RAPED. WOMEN INTERVIEWED WERE MOSTLY FROM THE PORTLAND, OREGON, AREA, ALTHOUGH LETTERS WERE RECEIVED FROM VARIOUS PARTS OF THE COUNTRY. THERE WERE 27 INTERVIEWS, 6 LETTERS, AND 2 STORIES TOLD INDIRECTLY BY WOMEN WHOSE DAUGHTERS HAD BEEN RAPED. THREE-FOURTHS OF THE UNREPORTED RAPES WERE ACQUAINTANCE RAPES, WITH 63 PERCENT BEING CLOSE ACQUAINTANCE RAPES AND 12 PERCENT CASUAL ACQUAINTANCE. THE REASONS GIVEN FOR NOT REPORTING A RAPE WERE FEAR OF POLICE AND COURT PROCEDURES, FEAR OF RETALIATION FROM THE OFFENDER, FEAR OF NOT BEING BELIEVED, FEAR OF BEING BLAMED, SELF-BLAME, ISOLATION STEMMING FROM THE FEELING OF BEING 'DIFFERENT', SHOCK AND DENIAL, AND VICTIMS BEING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL. WHILE ALL BUT ONE OF THE WOMEN INTERVIEWED WERE WHITE, STATISTICS INDICATE THAT MINORITY WOMEN ARE LESS LIKELY TO REPORT BEING RAPED, PARTICULARLY IF THE OFFENDER IS WHITE. BEING AN ADOLESCENT WAS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR IN NOT REPORTING RAPE, BECAUSE THE YOUNG VICTIM FELT PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TO POSSIBLE REACTIVE EVENTS THAT MIGHT FOLLOW A REPORT. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR INCREASING THE REPORTING OF RAPE INCLUDE PUBLIC EDUCATION ABOUT RAPE, LAWS MAKING A WOMAN'S SEXUAL HISTORY AND RELATIONSHIP TO THE ACCUSED INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE, TRAINED VICTIM ASSISTANCE GROUPS, RAPE-VICTIM ADVOCATE PROGRAMS, AND INCREASED FUNDING FOR THE AFOREMENTIONED PROGRAMS. THE SOCIAL CONDITIONING OF OUR SOCIETY ENCOURAGES MEN TO VIEW WOMEN AS OBJECTS TO BE EXPLOITED AND EVEN BRUTALIZED. RAPE IS THE LOGICAL EXTENSION OF THIS CONDITIONING. EDUCATION TO COUNTER THIS CONDITIONING IS REQUIRED. TABULAR DATA FROM THE STUDY ARE PROVIDED, ALONG WITH STATISTICS FROM THE RECORDS OF THE PORTLAND, OREGON, WOMEN'S CRISIS LINE AND OTHER AGENCIES DEALING WITH RAPE. (RCB)