Victims of crime are encouraged to seek help even if they do not report the crime.
Victim Support, the charity which supported more than 43,000 victims of crime, trauma and suicide last year, says the New Zealand Crime and Victim Survey released today continues to show a worrying trend that most New Zealanders do not report crime.
Victim Support spokeswoman Dr Petrina Hargrave said the organization was concerned but not surprised that of the 29% of adults who had been victims of crime in the survey, only 25% of crimes have been reported to the police. Only 8% of sexual assaults and 9% of fraud and cybercrimes were reported to the police.
General reasons for not reporting included that the incident was too insignificant, there was no loss or damage, or not worth reporting. However, reasons for not reporting interpersonal violence, sexual assault, and offenses committed by family members included fear of retaliation, shame and humiliation, and a desire not to cause the offender trouble. .
“Our biggest concern for the victims is that they remain hidden and do not receive the support they need. Behind these statistics are New Zealanders who are suffering alone.
She said anyone who has suffered a crime in New Zealand is entitled to free assistance, whether they reported the crime or how insignificant it seemed.
What may start out as something a victim perceives as small can escalate, especially in family or domestic situations where the victim cannot escape the abuser.
“Victims often have a hunch that something is wrong, but they may be told it’s their fault, they’re overreacting, or what happens in the family stays in the family.”
Dr Hargrave said it was understandable that people who have been victims of an interpersonal crime, particularly if the perpetrator was known to them, might be reluctant to report it, but there were good reasons to continue to ask for help.
“Unfortunately, people often only ask for help when things have gotten worse and neighbors have called the police. But we know most victims just want the crime to stop, and we can help people stay safe long before they reach that point, even if they don’t want to break up their families.
“Many victims tell us how helpful it is to have someone outside the family to talk to. Often, after receiving emotional and practical support, victims feel empowered to report the crime, but the support is there even if you choose not to.
Dr Hargrave was also not surprised that victimization was higher among the Rainbow Community, the Disabled Community and Maori.
“Marginalized communities are more vulnerable and face even greater barriers to reporting a crime. We need to ensure that we have a justice system that looks after the interests of all New Zealanders and that all victims feel physically and emotionally safe. These statistics show that we are not there yet.
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