Shame, Embarrassment & Further Humiliation Key Factors To 94% Of Sexual Assaults Going Unreported
The latest New Zealand Crime and Victims survey of 8,000 Kiwis reveals that one in four people experience sexual assault in their lifetime but a staggering 94% of those assaults are not reported to the police.
Shame, embarrassment, humiliation and fear of reprisal were reasons given by respondents for not reporting interpersonal violence and sexual assault incidents.
Victims’ views of different interpersonal violence offences were summarised with only 15% of sexual assaults described by the victim as a crime. In contrast, 43% were considered “wrong, but not a crime” and a further 42% considered “just something that happens”.
Debbi Tohill, Chair of Project Restore NZ is calling for change; “New Zealand is right up there in terms of sexual violence and the problems are likely to get worse with the impact of financial hardship bought on by economic downturn and COVID-19”
“Past surveys have shown 10% and then 9% of victims reporting the offence to Police. The survey result of just 6% is alarming, demonstrating an accelerating rate of lower reporting rates. Criminal Justice reform is needed to help protect victims and to render the process less harrowing for them. One way of doing this is to provide victims with emotional and practical support though their journey with a restorative process” says Tohill.
Tohill supports the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little’s call for further work on Restorative Justice processes for sexual violence cases. Restorative justice is one alternative that has shown good results for appropriate cases.
Project Restore NZ continues to explore ways that restorative justice can support healing and recovery for survivors of sexual abuse which includes supporting the person that has done the harm, to get appropriate help to reduce the chance of them repeating their harmful sexual behaviours.
Over the last 8 months Project Restore NZ has supported 156 survivors, where they have been able to drive the process in a way that meets their needs. They report being able to breathe again, having passed the burden back and being able to imagine moving forward.