The "symbolic protest" behind women's reporting of sexual assault crime to police
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
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.