Rape victims like me are being failed in Victoria - please act now!
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My name is Lena*. I was raped by a family member of a former senior member of Victoria Police. But after months of failures in the police system and lack of support— my rapist was never prosecuted and my life fell apart.
After reporting it to police, I was told to consider the effect my allegations would have on my rapist’s future and that they "usually deal with more serious cases". After failing to collect critical evidence properly, and pressuring me to retract my statement, they dropped the case.
I live with panic attacks, PTSD, exhaustion from battling the police system and the huge financial cost of counselling. My hopes of finishing university were crushed.
It took approximately 16 months for the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal to complete processing my application for assistance, and so, I was left in limbo, unable to access the support I needed and move on with my life. Additionally, despite appealing the Tribunal's request to inform my rapist of my application, as I believe it posed a risk to my safety, they decided to inform my rapist of my application for assistance.
I’m asking the Victorian Government and the Victorian Law Reform Commission to:
- Ensure Victims of Crime applications are processed within 3 months
- End the process of informing perpetrators of applications by victims of crime to receive assistance
- Allow crimes to be reported to, and investigated by, any Victorian police station, particularly where there is likely to be bias or conflict of interest.
- In order to prevent corruption, it should be made an offence for Police to use equipment to collect evidence without knowing how to use the equipment.
- Police failure to collect critical evidence, or "losing" evidence, should be automatically and immediately investigated by an independent anti-corruption body
- Fund trained social work professionals at all police stations to guide women through the legal processes, to support them, and to provide information and crisis counselling. Many countries have this model and I believe it would also help to ensure police respond appropriately to sexual assault as there would be a witness to the conduct of the police.
- Allow hospitals to collect forensic evidence, with consent, without victims being forced to first make a formal police report. I believe in the UK, this is the process. Victims should not feel pressured to make huge legal decisions while in shock and immediately after significant trauma.
Please don’t let the hell I have been through be in vain. Please sign my petition demanding a system that no longer fails rape victims.
*Whilst I would have preferred to use my real name, I have been advised to use an alternative name for legal reasons.
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