IACP Working For You: Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Stalking

The crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence are drastically underreported. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics report, Criminal Victimization, 2011, only 27 percent of sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement. Victims may choose not to report these crimes for various reasons including, but not limited to, the fear of retaliation by the offender or third parties, a lack of understanding of the criminal justice system, a minimization of the incident either by the officer or the victim him- or herself, the apprehension about exposing personal and private details, or a feeling that the criminal justice system revictimizes them in its process. Victim interactions with law enforcement can also have a significant impact on the decision to report crimes and participate in the criminal justice system. Research on sexual assault victims who reported the incident to officers found that 87 percent felt blamed for their assault after speaking with officers and 69 percent encountered officers who discouraged making a report.