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Rape Victims and the Justice System: Utilization and Impact

NCJ Number
Social Service Review Volume: 63 Issue: 2 Dated: (June 1989) Pages: 285-303
G Steketee; A H Austin
Date Published
19 pages
Because sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, it is difficult to validate the data collected.
This article examines the literature on victim decisions to report the crime and to prosecute assailants. Aspects of the rape situation, demographic and psychological characteristics, availability and influence of social support networks, experiences and perceptions of law enforcement personnel and the court process, and personal capacities to control the environment all impact on victim reporting. The legal process is examined in terms of its impact on victims, reviewing studies of emotional reactions to police contact, the hearing and trial proceedings, and the verdict and sentencing decisions. The findings indicate a strong need to assist assault victims in regaining a sense of control. 102 notes. (Author abstract modified)