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Just Science Podcast: Just Research on Anonymous and Unreported Sexual Assault Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2022

This fourth episode of the 2022 Sexual Assault Awareness Month mini-season of the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Justice Science podcast series is an interview with Dr. Rachael Goodman-Williams, - assistant Professor of Psychology at Wichita State University – and Dr. Jessica Volz – Clinical Director of Forensics at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center – who discuss why survivors of sexual assault sometimes choose not to report their sexual assault.



A pre-interview note indicates that after receiving medical care and undergoing forensic evidence collection following a sexual assault, some survivors choose to forego filing a report with law enforcement. Drs. Goodman-Williams and Volz have collaborated on research to further explain why some sexual assault survivors choose an anonymous or non-reporting option related to their sexual assaults.  In the interview, they discuss their research findings and why research in this area is needed to ensure victims’ rights and choices. The research conducted gave two options for a sample of sexual assault survivors who had not reported their victimization to police. One option was to participate in a medical diagnosis and treatment related to injuries from the sexual assault. Another choice was to have both a medical exam and an exam for and collection of physical evidence that could be used in a criminal justice investigation and prosecution. Participants were also given the option to submit questions anonymously to law enforcement personnel. Of the survivors who submitted such anonymous questions and received answers from law enforcement, approximately 50 percent chose to report their assaults to law enforcement. The researchers interviewed advocate preserving survivors ’rights to receive anonymous medical treatment only and the additional option for physical evidence collection, with the opportunity to submit anonymous questions to police.


Date Published: April 1, 2022