The "Symbolic Protest" Behind Women Reporting of Sexual Assault Crime to Police
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre
We introduce the term symbolic protest to identify and analyze a key motivator for the reporting decisions of victims of sexual violence. We contend that reporting sexual assault crime to police is an important expression of “symbolic protest” at a criminal justice system that does not generally serve women’s interests. Women show great courage and self-sacrifice in reporting sexual assault crime, and we identify three major factors that motivate them to do so, namely, (a) the need to have sexual assault recognized as a crime, (b) a desire to raise community awareness of sexual assault, and (c) a desire to protect other women and girls.