This post is intended to clarify why abuse victims are so often accused of lying by people who have limited knowledge or contact with abuse victims. The common complaint is that it probably wasn’t real because it was never reported. While measuring rates of sexual violence can be difficult, there is no uncertainty in the national data that the majority of sexual assaults are never reported to police.
It is believed that only 15.8 to 35 percent of all sexual assaults are reported to the police.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, M. Planty and L. Langton, “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010,” 2013; Wolitzky-Taylor et al, “Is Reporting of Rape on the Rise? A Comparison of Women with Reported Versus Unreported Rape Experiences in the National Women’s StudyReplication,” 2010
A survivor’s relationship with the offender has a strong effect on the likelihood of reporting.
• When an offender is an intimate partner or former intimate partner, only 25 percent of sexual assaults are reported to the police.
• When an offender is a friend or acquaintance, only 18 to 40 percent of sexual assaults are reported.
• When an offender is a stranger, between 46 and 66 percent of sexual assaults are reported.
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, T. Hart and C. Rennison, “Reporting Crime to the Police, 1992-2000,” 2003
Survivors cite the following reasons for not reporting a sexual assault:
• Fear of reprisal
• Personal matter
• Reported to a different official
• Not important enough to respondent
• Belief that the police would not do anything to help
• Belief that the police could not do anything to help
• Did not want to get offender in trouble with law
• Did not want family to know
• Did not want others to know
• Not enough proof
• Fear of the justice system
• Did not know how
• Feel the crime was not “serious enough”
• Fear of lack of evidence
• Unsure about perpetrator’s intent
D. Kilpatrick et al., “Drug-facilitated, Incapacitated, and Forcible Rape: A National Study,” 2007; U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, M. Planty and L. Langton, “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010,” 2013; Wolitzky-Taylor et al, “Is Reporting of Rape on the Rise? A Comparison of Women with Reported Versus Unreported Rape Experiences in the National Women’s Study-Replication”, 2010
So here is what verified statistics tell us about reporting rape or abuse. The incestual rape that Cheryl experienced while still a child fits so many of the criteria listed above. Please consider the facts before pointing the finger. If there were less repercussions for the innocent victims, maybe there would be more reports.
Due partially to low reporting rates, only 9 percent of all rapists get prosecuted. Only 5 percent of cases lead to a felony conviction. Only 3 percent of rapists will spend a day in prison. The other 97 percent walk free.
Probability Statistics Calculated By the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, “Reporting Rates,” 2013