Evidence from victimisation surveys indicates that many people who experience FDV never report the crime to police, and/or do not access any 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 their network of family and friends, while others may only seek more formal types of support and/or medical treatment. A victim may make use of informal and/or formal support soon after an incident(s) 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 occurrence of FDV.
More information is needed 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, or a difficulty in accessing the services that were needed. 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 is taken and no-one is 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 themselves 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 and reported outside the family or domestic environment, or the severity of the violence or injury makes the incident impossible to hide.
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 feel remorse or 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 sanctioned interventions such as court-ordered counselling or 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.
- When is disclosure made by a victim of FDV, and in what context?
- What factors impact on the likelihood of a victim's disclosure?
- To whom is disclosure made? How well equipped are people to support a victim of FDV?
- How does the type of support needed change with the time elapsed?
- Is fear for safety, or of other repercussions, preventing victims from disclosing incidents of FDV?
- Do rates or types of disclosure differ across population groups?
- Do perpetrators tend to disclose the incident(s) to others?
- What factors impact on the likelihood of a perpetrator's disclosure?
- To whom is disclosure made? How well equipped are people to counsel a perpetrator of FDV?
- In what ways does disclosure differentially impact on children, young people and adults?