Survivors of Sexual Assault: An Australian Survey
International Journal of the Sociology of the Law, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 329-354,1994
26 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2009 Last revised: 20 Jun 2018
Date Written: 1994
US and UK studies have pointed both to the myths held in relation to who rapes and the interrelationship between that variable and the brutality of the crime, the disclosure and/or reporting and the response of those told, including the criminal justice system.. There is little research to date that has looked at the association between these factors in Australia. This paper presents the findings from an Australian-wide survey of 2,852 victims conducted to investigate this issue. The results indicate that, similar to research findings in the US, strangers were the perpetrators in only one fifth of the cases with more than one quarter of the victims assaulted by a family member. The nature of the relationship between the offender and the victim was found to significantly affect the victim's injuries, disclosure, reporting to police and outcome with stranger rapes resulting in more disclosure, better support from family and greater likelihood of police charges. Reporting to authorities had increased over the past 25 years although the principal reason for non-disclosure, the victim's shame, remained constant. The author concludes that legislative changes have had limited impact and recommends increased community education and training for criminal justice practitioners in order to combat the mythology about rape that translates into particular low levels of reporting and inadequacy of response for those assaulted by non-strangers.
Keywords: rape, disclosure, UK, US
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