Sexual assault reporting rates in Canada: an exploration of factors involved in victims reporting decisions
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The following thesis considers the issue of reporting sexual victimization. The research asks: What factors contribute to a victim’s decision not to report sexual assault to the police? The thesis utilizes the General Social Survey from 2009 examining data from those who reported being sexually assaulted between February of 2008 and February of 2009 (n=548). Crosstabulation analysis was run on the factors thought to influence decision making, against the reasons that people stated for not reporting their sexual assault to police. The perception of police bias by the victim, fear of revenge, and believing the incident was a personal matter were found to be significant in terms of the relationship to the offender as well as social networks. A multi-variate regression model was used in order to determine the odds ratios for a number of factors including the relationship of the offender, trust the victim has in family, whether or not they confided in social networks and their marital status. Results show that those who were assaulted by acquaintances or talked to medical personal were less likely to report, and those who were assaulted by family, talked to their families, or were married were more likely to report the assault. The findings of the study are consistent with the literature from the past thirty years in that victim blaming appears to still play a significant role in the decision to report to police or not. The research also indicates that social networks may play a critical role in the decisions of sexual assault victims, but ultimately concludes that this area is under researched and more research is needed.