Media Release: Reporting Violence to Police

full report - Reporting Violence to Police: A survey of victims attending domestic violence services for the (pdf 893Kb)

Release date: 9 December 2013, Monday 10.30am

A survey of 300 victims of domestic violence, conducted earlier this year by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, has found that only about half (51.8%) reported being assaulted to police.

Nearly one-fifth (17.1%) of the respondents who did not report their most recent incident to the police, however, stated that a barrier to reporting was that the police are not sufficiently understanding or proactive in their handling of DV.

The second and third most common barriers were that respondents perceived their abuse as not serious enough to warrant a report (11.4%), and a perceived lack of help and advice for respondents before and after reporting to the police (7.9%).

Victims were more likely to report violence to police if they had an AVO against the offender, if their property had been damaged, if they were physically injured, if the abuse was physical or sexual, if they felt their children were at risk or if they had reported previous DV incidents.

Nearly two-thirds (63.2%) of those who did not report to police stated that they were 'happy' they had not reported the violence.

The three most common reasons given for this were (1) the abuse did not get worse (25.0%) (2) the victim said they handled the situation themselves and did not have to deal with the embarrassment of police invading their privacy (23.8%) and (3) the victim said they had avoided the stress associated with reporting DV to police (23.8%).

Of the one-third (36.8%) of respondents who said they were unhappy they had not reported the most recent incident to police, over half (56.3%) stated that they were unhappy because there was no justice and the offender would go unpunished. The remainder said they were unhappy because the abuse will ultimately continue (43.8%).

Even though two-thirds of respondents said they were happy they had not reported the most recent incident to police, nearly one-third (29.2%) of respondents said, in hindsight, they wished they had sought help from the police or another professional service sooner than they had.

About 14 percent (14.4 %) said they wished they had left the abusive relationship earlier.

When respondents were asked about the advice they would give another victim who had not reported their DV to the police and not sought help from anyone, nearly one-quarter (21.9%) suggested that they should report it to the police.

One-fifth (18.7%) suggested the victim should leave the abusive relationship, 17.0 percent suggested the person should at least speak to family or friends, and 13.4 percent said they should seek help from a professional DV service.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190

Copies of the report: