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Social Reactions and Women's Decisions to Report Sexual Assault to Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 26 Issue: 5 Dated: 2020 Pages: 399-416
A. P. DePrince; et al
Date Published
18 pages

This study examined how the social reactions women received from informal supports and community-based providers following a sexual assault impacted their decision about reporting the assault to law enforcement.


Among 213 diverse women who had disclosed a recent sexual assault to a community-based provider, 56 percent reported the assault to law enforcement. Law enforcement reporting was associated with more positive (tangible aid) and less negative (distraction, being treated differently) reactions from informal supports and more tangible aid and less emotional support from community-based providers. Tangible aid from community-based providers predicted law enforcement reporting over the subsequent 9 months among women who had not initially reported their assault to law enforcement. (publisher abstract modified)