Eight in Ten (82%) Women who are Victims of Sexual Assault Didn't Report Incident(s) to Police
Those Who Told Police Say They Felt Devastated (39%), Abandoned (37%) and Distraught (37%) About the Outcome, Compared to 22% Who Were Satisfied
The poll was conducted among 2,150 Canadian women aged 18 and older via the Ipsos I-Say online panel. Prospective respondents were informed ahead of time of the sensitive nature of the survey and then they gave their consent to participate. Following the survey, the phone number for the Women Against Violence Against Women crisis hotline was provided to the respondent if they felt they wanted to reach out for support.
The results of the research showed that 30% of women surveyed report having ever been `forced into a sexual encounter without their consent', with those that have remaining largely silent about the incident(s).
Taking into account that some of these victims were assaulted on multiple occasions, overall, in 82% of incidents the victim did not report the incident to police. In 18% of cases the victim did approach police, with either charges being laid leading to a conviction (7%), acquittal (4%), or no charges laid (9%).
In order to better understand the impact of the process of reporting on victims, focusing on those who experienced one incident of assault and chose to report it to police, their assessment of the outcome of that experience appears to be more negative (71%) than positive (22%). Among a list of five possible feelings, more women say they felt `devastated' (39%), `abandoned' (39%) and `distraught' (37%) about the outcome than felt `satisfied' (22%) or `vindicated' (2%). One in ten (12%) experienced some other emotion as a result of the outcome of reporting the incident to police.
Among those who didn't choose to the incident of assault to police, there are a number of factors underlying their decision not to do so, including:
- Feeling too young and powerless (56%)
- Feeling ashamed/scared and not wanting anyone to know (40%)
- Blaming themselves fully or partly for what happened (29%)
- Absorbing it - chalking it up to experience and moving on and treating it as a valuable personal lesson (26%)
- Believing that nothing would happen or authorities wouldn't believe them (21%)
- Saying it was perpetrated by a family member and they couldn't turn them in (19%)
- Not wanting anyone to know for fear it would affect future life and relationships (18%)
- That the perpetrator was more powerful than the victim and could do further damage to their life if they did or said anything (15%)
- Not wanting to go through the legal process because they were scared they would end up on trial instead of the perpetrator and being ripped apart by the defense lawyer (11%)
- Knowing the perpetrator and not wanting to destroy their life (9%)
- Not wanting to relive the experience in a trial (9%)
- Being drunk or on drugs and not clearly remembering what happened (8%)
- Fearing for their own life - that speaking up might get them killed (7%)
- Believing it wasn't such a big thing so they just moved on (5%)
- Saying a co-worker was the perpetrator and it could ruin their job or career so they stayed quiet (4%)
- The belief that it was an unwarranted, random occurrence by someone they didn't know, so they didn't report it. (4%)
- One in twenty (5%) didn't report it for some other reason.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted between January 17th to 23rd, 2015, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 2,150 Canadian women ages 18+ (including a sample of n=645 women who have had an unwanted sexual encounter) was interviewed via the Ipsos I-Say online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/ - 2.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian women ages 18+ been surveyed, and within +/- 4.4 percentage points had all women who had been involved in an unwanted sexual encounter been surveyed. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
For more information on this news release, please contact:
Jennifer McLeod Macey
Ipsos Public Affairs
About Ipsos Reid
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