According to the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency’s article “The Effects of Arrest, Reporting to the Police, and Victim Services on Intimate Partner Violence,” the results of their research support a model in which police notification and victim-centered services produce important reductions in repeat victimization.

This should be an encouragement to all victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to report abuse to law enforcement and receive services from their local domestic violence and sexual assault program. Although reporting violence to police has reduced re-victimization, arrests did not show a deterrent effect on repeat intimate partner violence which shows that jail time is not what will keep a victim from being re-victimized.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s special report on police response to domestic violence, 2006-2015 reported that the top four reasons for not reporting domestic violence included personal privacy, protecting the offender, the crime was minor, and fear of reprisal. Female victims were four times as likely as male victims to go unreported due to fear of reprisal. The special report also stated that 56 percent of all victimizations were reported. That is a little over half which means there are still a lot of victims not coming forward.
Often victims of intimate partner violence do not want to report their sexual assault or domestic dispute because they fear no one will believe them. They do not want to give explicit details of a traumatic event only to be told that there is not enough evidence to pursue a case or it is their word against their perpetrators. Reporting violence is not just about getting someone in trouble. This is about a victim taking a stand and informing someone that they are being abused. This report could show a pattern to law enforcement that can help them to build a case against a dangerous perpetrator in the future. It may not lead to the justice that all survivors feel they should get, but it can have lasting effects in the long run.
Reporting violence should also be a chance for a survivor to be linked to the local DV/SA program to get trauma informed care. Advocacy through local programs promotes healing and growth. Programs such as Crisis Services of North Alabama are working towards ensuring that survivors never become victims again through support groups, case management, crisis counseling, and more. The partnership between law enforcement and the local domestic violence and sexual assault program is crucial. Encouraging survivors to report abuse to the police and follow through with advocacy should be the goal when working with victims of intimate partner violence.
If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, Crisis Services of North Alabama can help. Please contact us locally at 256.574.5826, on our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000, or at our website Advocates provide free, confidential support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

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