Reporting Rape: Have Things Really Changed?

Jody Clay-Warner, University of Georgia
Callie Burt

ABSTRACT
In the past thirty years, significant changes in rape laws have been enacted in virtually every U.S. jurisdiction. While the scope of these changes varies, the general legal climate for rape victims is more favorable now than at any time in recent history. Also, rape crisis centers, schools and other community groups have been actively engaged in rape awareness campaigns since the advent of rape reform. Guiven the changes in rape laws, as well as the increased attention given to the issue, one might expect differences in rates of reporting pre- and post-reform. One might also expect that the assault characteristics that once prevented many rape victims from reporting, such as use of intoxicants and relationship with the assailant, would now have a less significant impact on the reporting decision. In this paper, we examine these issues using data from the National Violence Against Women Survey. We construct logistic regression models to predict likelihood of victim reporting, wuith time period and assault characteristics as independent variables. We also examine interactions between time period and assult characteristics as independent variables. We also examine interactions between time period and assault characteristics to determine whether the characteristics of the assault that once impeded reporting are as influential today as they were prior to the reforms.

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Updated 05/20/2006