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ECU-led research project provides new insight into sexual assault victims

Monday, 24 January 2011

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Researchers from the Policing Just Outcomes (PJO) project,an initiative of Edith Cowan University and the Victoria Police, have released their latest report based on what is the first ever state-wide online survey of rape and sexual assault victims in an Australian jurisdiction.

The survey questioned 336 respondents from across Victoria and also included in-depth interviews with 76 victims and survivors, assessing the decision making behind reporting their sexual victimisation to the police.

The report revealed a number of key findings, including significant delays in reporting the offence, with the survey revealing that only 35 per cent of participants reported the crime to police.

The report also revealed a number of concerning attitudes towards rape and sexual assault, including victims being blamed for their attack, inadequate family support and disbelief in the victim’s story.

Lead Researcher, and ECU’s Foundation Chair in Social Justice, Professor Caroline Taylor, believes the survey provides a concerning snapshot into a sample of rape survivors and their reporting decisions.

“When analysed against the barriers and dilemmas they face it is clear that family members and the community continue to intentionally or unintentionally prevent rape victims from reporting the crime to police and accessing appropriate health and medical services.”

“Moreover, the study revealed that only 35 per cent of rape victims sought medical support or help. This is an alarming trend considering the long term negative health and psychological impacts associated with rape and sexual assault,” said Professor Taylor.

“The research also makes clear a that there is a long delay between the crime and reporting the offence, which needs to be addressed to ensure victims feel confident in disclosing their crimes to police.”

“These finding highlight the fact that we still have a long way to go in ensuring rape victims receive compassionate and just responses from family, community and police.” said Professor Taylor.

The PJO project funded by a Linkage Grant from the Australian Research Council, for more information visit the Policing Just Outcomes Project website.

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(08) 6304 2131
0402 016 344
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