Why are Sexual Assaults Under-Reported?
Most people will call the police if someone breaks into their home or steals something from their vehicle. Yet this is not the first reaction of most people who experience sexual violations.
According to rainn.org, 770 out of 1,000 sexual assaults go unreported to the police. That means that only 23% of all sexual abuse/assaults may have a response from the justice system.
So why is it that most people do NOT call the police after experiencing sexual assault?
There are many reasons — both personal concerns and system failures.
95% of the suspected sexual abusers are part of the victim’s family or social circle: friend, friend of friend/family, date, boyfriend, roommate, coworker, fellow student, acquaintance, or person of power (e.g., landlord, teacher, boss).
With this prevalence, the most common reasons given for not reporting #WhyIDidn’tReport:
- “I just want him to leave me alone and put this behind me”
- “He and his friends/family will make my life a nightmare”
- “He will deny it and no one will believe me”
- “My parents will kill him if they find out”
- “The cops will call it “drunk sex” and tell me not to ruin his life”
- “I was drinking, but I didn’t want to have sex”
- “He will fire me and my friend if I tell anyone”
Social stigma and shame: Common reactions immediately after include shame for trusting (I should have known better), self-blame (we were drinking), denial (it’s not that bad, he didn’t mean to hurt me). They feel responsible for “causing trouble” if they report their experience.
Family or Community pressure: In many instances (particularly with children and teens), both people are connected by family or friendship. Reporting the abuse/assault will disrupt the family system and people will “choose sides.”
Fear or distrust of law enforcement: The response by law enforcement varies widely by jurisdiction and the officer’s training. Fear of deportation exists when the victim or a member of the household is “undocumented.” Language barriers also deter reporting.
If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault or abuse, call Mosaic Georgia at 866-900-6019. We will listen to you and help you sort out your options. All services are free and confidential. You may choose to have a medical forensic exam at Mosaic Georgia without reporting to law enforcement.
We want you to feel comfortable and ready if you choose to report. If you later decide to report the assault, the evidence collected can be available for testing. Whether or not you end up deciding to report, we are by your side every step of the way.