Appendix 1

Barriers to victim reporting

Barriers to victim reporting

Like victims who are not in custody, individuals in correctional settings often have fears and concerns about reporting sexual assault. Some specific concerns of victims in correctional settings may include the following:[1]

[1] National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report (Washington, DC: NPREC, 2009); and Vera Institute of Justice, summary memos for the sexual assault forensic protocol in prison, jail, and community confinement work-group meetings (unpublished memos, Feb. 25 and March 15, 2011).

  • fear of retaliation by perpetrators;
  • fear of being placed in isolation in the facility as a protective measure or being sent back to jail or prison from a community confinement facility;
  • fear of losing privileges or freedoms within the facility;
  • fear of being further targeted by sexual predators in the facility;
  • fear of being labeled a “snitch” or “rat” by others in the facility;
  • fear that corrections officials will not respond appropriately or will ignore their report; and/or
  • fear (for boys and men) of being labeled weak, less masculine, gay, or bisexual, and as such, facing significant risk for further sexual assault.

These and other fears and concerns can lead victims in correctional settings not to report or to delay reporting to facility staff, law enforcement, or both. Many are reluctant or choose not to report because of self-blame, feelings of shame, a desire to put the event behind them and move on with their lives, or some combination of those. In addition, they may not identify coerced sexual contact as abusive and may not think to report it.

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