Authors: Manon Ceelen, Tina Dorn, Flora S. van Huis and Udo J. L. Reijnders.
Although the physical and psychological consequences of sexual violence can be severe, many victims do not report the violence to the police force. The current study examined the characteristics and the post-decisional attitude of the non-reporting sexual violence victims. In total, 287 victims of sexual violence completed an anonymous online questionnaire that assessed characteristics of the violence, whether or not the crime was reported, reasons for not reporting, and aspects that would have convinced nonreporters to report in retrospect.
Eighty percent of the victims did not report the most recent sexual violence incident to the police (n = 229). Nevertheless, 65% of the non-reporting victims (n = 148) in retrospect would have reported to the police (“potential reporters”). Specific reasons for nonreporting and incident characteristics appear to relate to the post-decision attitude of non-reporting victims of sexual violence. “Lack of evidence” and “feelings of shame, guilt, and other emotions” appear to be more frequently mentioned by potential reporters as reasons for their decision to not report as compared with the definitive non-reporters. Likewise, being raped or sexually assaulted is predictive of potential reporting. Our findings are useful for policy makers to develop strategies to increase reporting rates of sexual violence victims.