Conviction rates for domestic violence cases has risen from 69% in 2007-8 to 73% according to reports from the Crown Prosecution Service. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 today director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, who implemented a 4 year strategy, said they were taking “steps on a long journey”. It is important to note, as Starmer has, that while this is important progress it is just that: progress. On average a woman will experience domestic violence a total of 30 times before she will report it, the statistics we have on domestic abuse are no doubt inaccurate because so many cases go unreported and unacknowledged.
As part of the 4 year strategy concerning violence against women and girls Starmer has identified, with the help of women's groups and charities such as Refuge, the problem of reporting cases. In another interview with the BBC "There is still a significant problem in terms of encouraging people to come forward." Starmer acknowledged that there are some women who have reported DV in the past only for the case to be dropped, making the idea of reporting seem futile.
Perceptions need to change within both the police and public, when a hash-tag to raise awareness on Twitter concerning the reporting of rape began, #Ididnotreport a supportive and anonymous community sprang up. However anonymity also allowed some to take the opportunity to tweet “#Ididnotreport because I did not let myself become a victim”. Victim blaming is a serious issue that needs to be tackled urgently if we are going to encourage anyone (men or women) to report domestic abuse or violence.
Campaigns such as Lauren Luke and Refuge's Don't Cover It Up video is important to bring the subject into the open. not just to give victims courage to report their abuse but to demonstrate how domestic violence or abuse can affect anybody, no matter what their class, character or education.
Unfortunately often when cases of violence against women is brought to light and reported on it is concerning what the woman did. Or whether the case in question was rape or rape-rape. A teenage girl is facing a jail sentence and fine for publicly naming her attackers. 'Oh, is that happening in one of those countries where women aren't even allowed to drive?' Nope, America (I strongly advise against reading the comments in the link)
Louisville teenager Savannah Dietrich was sexually assaulted in 2011 by 2 teenage boys who photographed the incident and shared the pictures. “For months, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn't go out in public places. You just sit there and wonder, who saw [the pictures], who knows?”
Dietrich's attackers pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and misdemeanour voyeurism. Judge Dee McDonald struck a deal with them that possibly does not match with the jail sentence and $500 fine Dietrich could get for naming her attackers.
In a bid to stand up for herself in place of the court who Dietrich feels has failed her she has taken matters in to her own hands as much as possible by tweeting her attackers' identities. For this Judge Dee McDonald believes she should be severely punished.
Admittedly this is a grey area, these young men are minors, but their crime was not minor. We don't know what their punishment was either but Dietrich feels it is a mere slap on the wrist and unsuitable for the crime committed. However the message 'in situations like this, don't be a hero' can easily be interpreted from the coverage and the consequences Dietrich will possibly face.
How do you feel about reporting now?