Crime victims are being urged to seek support even if they don’t report the crime.
Victim Support, the charity that supported more than 43,000 victims of crime, trauma and suicide last year, says the New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey released today continues to show a worrying trend that most New Zealanders are not reporting crime.
Victim Support spokesperson Dr Petrina Hargrave said the organisation was concerned but not surprised that among the 29% of adults who had experienced crime in the survey, only 25% of crimes were reported to Police. Only 8% of sexual assaults and 9% of fraud and cybercrime were reported to Police.
General reasons for not reporting included that the incident was too trivial, there was no loss or damage, or it was not worth reporting. However, reasons for not reporting interpersonal violence, sexual assault and offences by family members included fear of reprisals, shame and humiliation, and not wanting to get the offender into trouble.
“Our biggest concern for victims is that they are remaining hidden and are not getting the support they need. Behind these statistics are New Zealanders who are suffering alone.”
She said anyone who experienced a crime in New Zealand was entitled to free support, regardless of whether they reported the crime or how trivial it seemed.
What may start out as something a victim perceived to be small could escalate, especially in family or domestic situations where the victim could not escape the perpetrator.
“Victims often have a gut feeling that something is wrong, but they may have been told it’s their fault, that they’re overreacting, or that what happens in the family stays in the family.”
Dr Hargrave said it’s understandable that people who experienced interpersonal crime, especially if the perpetrator was known to them, may be reluctant to report it but there were good reasons to still seek support.
“Sadly, people often don’t seek help until things have escalated and neighbours have called police. But we know most victims just want the offending to stop and we can help people stay safe well before they reach that point, even if they don’t want to break up their family.
“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 victimisation was higher among the Rainbow community, disability community, and Māori.
“Marginalised communities are more vulnerable and face even greater barriers to reporting crime. We need to ensure we have a justice system that looks after the interests of all New Zealanders and that all victims feel physically and emotionally safe to use. These statistics show we’re not there yet.”