Reporting an abuser is a tremendously daunting experience for victims and survivors of sexual or domestic abuse. Up to 70% of domestic violence goes unreported, with the figure dropping to 15% for sexual abuse survivors. Lower still is the percentage of reported abuse when the perpetrator was a current or former intimate partner. Breaking the silence is an incredibly brave and difficult part of a survivor’s journey to healing; but it doesn’t have to be a solo experience. Having a domestic or sexual abuse psychologist by your side can help you through mental and emotional barriers that otherwise might have meant an end to the reporting process.
If the abuser is your partner, a relationship psychologist will be able to help you find ways to remove yourself from a harmful situation and provide you with the information and safety needed to escape ongoing abuse. Once you are protected from your abuser, you can begin your road to mental and emotional recovery, and eventually, tackle the reporting process with the support of caring, understanding professionals.
A qualified sexual assault lawyer Sydney who specialises in domestic and/or sexual abuse victims and survivors, and understands the legal steps of reporting the abuse, can then give you the strength needed to follow it through. The journey begins in a series of private sessions, where you will work through your abuse, fears and barriers with them for as long as you feel necessary. Once they feel you are ready to report it, they will run through the types of questions, scenarios and steps that you should expect from the reporting experience. They will organise the paperwork and interviews with local police, prep you for the interviewing sessions and sit by your side during the reporting process, paying close attention to your emotional and mental state to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed.
They will also find legal options available to you to find justice. Laws concerning the reporting and charging of domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse are constantly changing and vary by country and state. Statutes of limitations regarding sexual abuse are widely different and there may be options open to you that you might have thought expired years ago. Breaking the silence and fighting for justice can give you a form of closure to help the healing process. Protecting your abuser can be more detrimental to your recovery than anything and can prevent you from finding the inner peace you search for. Finding a psychologist you are comfortable with and trust can help you find the courage and strength to report your experiences and bring a sense of validation and justice to your life.
If the idea of reporting your abuse seems like a mountain to large to climb, try to talk to a psychology professional and explore your options. You might find astrength and a drive that you forgot you had.