Article

Rape Reporting as a Function of Victim-Offender Relationship:A Critique of the Lack of Effect Reported by Bachman (1993)

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Abstract

Bachman (1993), studying a National Crime Survey sample between 1987 and 1990, concluded that rape survivors were not more likely to report to the police if the victimization was perpetrated by a stranger, and she suggested that because of recent legal reforms and media campaigns “particularly victims of date and acquaintance rape... may be no longer as hesitant to report a rape as they once were” (p. 265). It is argued here that the study provided no evidence for this contention, especially with respect to date rape, for the following reasons: (a) There is some question as to whether or not the analysis should have concluded that the relationship between reporting and knowing the offender was significant; (b) even if considered nonsignificant, the interpretation of the result was inappropriate in terms of both the classical logic of hypothesis testing and more recent discussions of the use of significance tests; (c) there was no evidence of a change over time; and (d) the composition of the sample was not sufficiently representative of all types of victim-offender relationship for inferences, particularly about attacks on dates, to be drawn. Given the likely composition of the sample, it would be expected to produce a weak effect of acquaintance, which is exactly what it did.

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... , using rape data from the NCVS from 1987 to 1990, found that the victim-offender relationship did not affect the likelihood of reporting. Pollard (1995) and Ruback (1993) questioned this finding on both statistical and conceptual grounds. Ruback (1993) argued that this research simply demonstrated that acquaintance was a less important factor than it once was and that it was "premature to say that the victim-offender relationship does not matter" (p. ...
... Studies employing the NCVS have been criticized for the way rape victims are identified. In critiquing , Ruback (1993) and Pollard (1995) pointed out that individuals who reported their rapes to the police would be more likely to inform the NCVS interviewers that they had been raped than women who had not reported to the police. This bias could serve to inflate the percentage of acquaintance rapes that were reported to police. ...
... This bias could serve to inflate the percentage of acquaintance rapes that were reported to police. Reflecting upon societal stigma and decisions concerning what actually constitutes rape, they argued that victims of acquaintance rapes who do not report their rape are more likely to believe or convince themselves that they were not actually victims of rape thus leading to unreliable data (Koss, 1992;Pollard, 1995;Ruback, 1993). ...
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Using data from the National Violence Against Women Survey, the authors examine whether rapes committed after reforms were more likely to be reported to police than those committed before reforms. The authors also consider whether the gap between the reporting of simple versus aggravated rape has narrowed. They find that rapes committed after 1990 were more likely to be reported than rapes occurring before 1974. Aggravated rape continues to be more likely to be reported than simple rape, however, and this effect is stable over time. The authors conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for evaluating the success of rape reform statutes.
... From some studies it can be concluded that victims report less often if they know the offender (e.g. Gartner and Macmillan 1995;Lizotte 1985;Pino and Meier 1999;Pollard 1995;Ruback 1993); others find that cases with an unknown offender are reported less often (Felson et al. 1999;Goudriaan et al. 2004), and some studies find no relationship at all (Bachman 1993(Bachman , 1998. Thus, a great deal still remains unclear about the effects of this factor on victims' reporting behaviour. ...
... This is consistent with many previous studies (e.g. Block 1974;Fisher et al. 2003;Gartner and Macmillan 1995;Hanson et al. 1999;Lizotte 1985;Pino and Meier 1999;Pollard 1995;Singer 1988) and is assumed to be related to the fact that victims who know the offender have the possibility to deal with these incidents by informal means. In addition, juveniles who read a vignette with a (well) known offender agreed more strongly with 'afraid of more problems with the offender' as a reason not to report to the police, than did juveniles who read a vignette with an unknown offender. ...
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A growing body of literature on the willingness of victims to report crimes focuses on the context in which crimes occur. Recently, a socio-ecological model has been developed from which hypotheses on the effects of social context on reporting can be derived. This study tests these hypotheses using a vignette experiment, in which 499 juveniles read a description of a violent incident and answered questions on their willingness to report to the police or to an employee of the organization they belong to (here, their school). The effects of three factors were studied: the location of the crime, the extent to which victim and offender knew each other, and whether or not the offender was part of the same organization as the victim. Results show that the willingness to contact the police is lower when the incident takes place within the organization (cf. in the public domain) and when the offender is well known (cf. vaguely known), and that there is an additional negative effect when the incident takes place within the organization and the offender also belongs to the organization. The willingness to contact an employee is higher when the offender belongs to the organization and when the incident takes place within the organization. Implications of these findings and the advantages and limitations of the vignette approach are discussed.
... Bachman's (1993) study has been criticized for both conceptual and methodological reasons (e.g., Pollard 1995;Ruback 1993). For example, Clay-Warner and Burt (2005) reported that rape victims in the 1990s, regardless of if they knew their attacker or not, were more likely to report their assault to the police than those who were victimized prior to 1974. ...
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The current research had the primary goal of investigating the difference in police reporting patterns by sexual assault victims in Western and in non-Western countries. The data for the present study were obtained from the International Crime Victimization Survey. The present work found a significant difference in police reporting behavior by sexual assault victims in Western and in non-Western countries. Gender, urban residency, and the number of offenders were important factors for victims in non-Western countries, but not for those in Western countries. On the other hand, a victim’s prior relationship with his or her offender and family income level were significantly related to police reports in Western countries, but not in non-Western countries.
... Contrary to this finding, other evidence suggested that victim-offender relationships did not affect the crime-reporting decisions of sexual offense victims (Bachman, 1993(Bachman, , 1998. This lack of effect, however, has been critiqued on methodological as well as statistical grounds (Pollard, 1995). Despite the lack of a consensus, it has remained important to study the effects of victim-offender relationship on reporting of sexual victimization. ...
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Thesis
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