Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Barriers to reporting violence against women

Barriers to seeking help are rooted in attitudes that silence women and protect abusers  and in women’s lack of trust in the authorities to help and protect them. Shame and a lack of expectations of help from the authorities play a particular role when it comes to sexual violence by intimate partners and other perpetrators. The response of professionals has to be based on a zero-tolerance policy for violence that is free of any victim-blaming attitudes and makes the victim’s needs the priority.
 The main reason for not reporting their most serious incident of violence to the police is that the victims decided to deal with the incident on their own, perhaps only involving friends and family This reason for non-reporting is cited by more than half of victims of intimate partner violence (53% of victims of their current partner and 51% of victims of a previous partner) and 36% of non-partner violence. The belief that the incident was too minor to report, wanting to keep things private, feelings of shame and embarrassment, fear of the offender and a belief that nothing would be done were other common reasons.
 Women who agree that domestic violence is a private matter are less likely to contact the police or any other organization following their most serious incident of  non-partner violence (56% did not report the incident, compared to 49% among those who disagree), current partner violence (84% versus 77%) and previous partner violence (69% versus 63%).
 Victims of non-partner sexual violence who did not call the police are particularly likely to believe that the police would not do anything (22%). Shame (38%) and wanting to keep the matter private (27%) are also prevalent reasons. Among victims of intimate partner violence, fear of the perpetrator (their partner) is more pronounced when the violence was sexual (mentioned by 28%) than when it involved some form of physical violence only. Shame is also a common barrier for these women, particularly victims of previous partners (37%).

In the qualitative research, several barriers were identified that may play a role in women’s decision not to seek help after incidents of violence:

 Shame - including shame associated with certain types of violence and with divorce.  Financial reasons - including concerns that the woman would not be able to financially support herself and her children and would not receive support  from her family.

 Lack of trust in institutions - women did not expect an effective response from the police or feared that they would not be believed.
 Lack of awareness of specialist services - women did not know where else they could go to get help.
 Fear of repercussions from the perpetrator - women were afraid that the  violence could escalate.

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