REPORTING AND DISCLOSURE
Evidence from victimisation surveys indicates that many people who experience family, domestic and sexual violence do not report the crime to police, and do not seek professional or other support services. It is possible that many others never disclose such incidents to anyone. Some may only ever seek the informal support of friends and family, while others may only seek more formal types of support and/or medical treatment. A victim may make use of informal or formal support soon after an incident occurs, or may not do so until years afterwards. The service or support needs will therefore depend on the timing of the disclosure or report of the incident.
Information is required about the responses of both victims and perpetrators, especially when they have not reported to, or had contact with, any systems or services
It is important to understand why some victims do not report to police or access other services, particularly if there is a fear of repercussions or of not being believed, a lack of knowledge about services, a difficulty in accessing the services that were needed, or perception that the incident is not sufficiently serious to warrant action by authorities. If a victim’s response was to talk to someone, then information about who that person was and the degree of support provided may be related to the outcome. If no action was taken and no-one was told, information is needed about the reasons why, and about the relationship to outcomes.
Additionally, a key obstacle to disclosure is self-identification. If a victim does not interpret the events that have occurred as violence, nor wish to identify as a victim, then it is likely that events may never come to the attention of others. Exceptions to this may include instances where the violence is witnessed by another person not directly involved in the violent incident, or the severity of the violence or injury draws the attention of medical or other professionals.
Perpetrators and prevention
In relation to perpetrators, it is important to understand the types of intervention or other support that may assist in the prevention of further offending. If perpetrators accept responsibility for their actions, they may voluntarily seek counselling or other assistance to help avoid development (or maintenance) of this pattern of behaviour. The effectiveness of justice system interventions, such as court-ordered counselling and other programs is also important to assess. If perpetrators do not seek, or are not exposed to, this type of assistance, then information about whether they tell other people, change their routines, or respond in other ways would be useful.
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