Confidential reporting and written responses in sexual assault cases

By Georgina Heydon and Anastasia Powell

The confidential reporting of sexual assaults can play an important role in support processes for victim-survivors and has the potential to improve the rate of official reporting of sexual assault to police. However, the self-reporting forms currently used for this purpose are not developed in line with the research evidence regarding forensic interviewing techniques, and nor have they been trialled and evaluated for their effective use in sexual assault investigations. This situation leads to substantial inconsistencies between the information gathering practices used by police in formal interviews, and the information gathering practices used in confidential, self-reporting contexts. In this article, we engage in a conceptual and critical consideration of current forms used in response to sexual assault. Ultimately, we propose that a written-response interview protocol (WRIP), has potential to improve the completeness and accuracy of evidence, as well as the consistency and experiences of victim-survivors of sexual assault.

Read the journal article in Policing & Society here.

Gender equality in the workplace can prevent violence against women

By Larissa Sandy and Anastasia Powell

Workplaces can be a key setting to prevent violence against women but prevention programs are often thwarted by some leaders who don’t see it as a workplace issue, our research shows.

Our report focused on 15 workplaces and organisations from the corporate, community sports and recreation, local councils and education settings as well as male-dominated industries, and sought to find out how they are addressing gender inequality.

International research shows that greater inequalities between men and women increase the risk of violence against women. Workplaces can contribute both directly and indirectly to improving gender equity in our community and to building cultures based on respect. It is partly through workplace recruiting, hiring, and pay practices, that Australia still has a gender pay gap of 17.9%.

Sexual harassment, despite being unlawful, is also still a major issue for workplaces. The Australian Human Rights Commission reports that around one in three Australian women experience sexual harassment in their lifetime.

Read more at The Conversation or
Download the research report here.

Cyber justice: how technology is supporting victim-survivors of rape

By Anastasia Powell and Tully O’Neill

We tend to think of “justice” as meaning having one’s day in court – and that justice is done when the perpetrator is convicted and punished. But for many victim-survivors of sexual violence, that day may never come.

While one in five Australian women and one in 22 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, most do not report it to police. Even for those who do, conviction is difficult. And the trial process can further add to victims’ trauma.

Research with victim-survivors has also repeatedly found that “justice” itself can mean many things. Some survivors describe “justice” as meaning that their experience is heard and the offender is held responsible for their actions.

Some victims also describe wanting to be able to tell the whole storyabout what happened to them to an audience that believes them and that acknowledges the wrongfulness of the harm done.

Perhaps this is why some survivors are using social media and other online platforms to share their experiences of sexual violence and seek support from a community of peers.

Read more at The Conversation or the journal article in Theoretical Criminology.