THE Tamworth Child Abuse Squad has urged victims to report cases of sexual assault in the wake of the “guilty” verdict handed down to entertainer Rolf Harris on Monday.
Detective Sergeant Russell Pitt said it can “only be positive” when high-profile cases like that of Harris and Hey Dad star Robert Hughes vindicate the plight of the victim.
“Positive outcomes in cases lead to people reporting more,” Sergeant Pitt said.
He said victims can feel “more empowered to report” when they perceive the court system to have delivered justice publicly.
“When they see people in a position of authority being held accountable for their past wrongs, that may definitely encourage people to come forward,” Sergeant Pitt said.
When victims of sexual assault tell their story, they may prevent the perpetrator from harming another, Sergeant Pitt said.
He said the number of reports to the Child Abuse Squad had climbed in recent years, but this reflected a higher number of people reporting, not a higher rate of abuse.
He said although victims did sometimes report an incident immediately, there were a whole host of reasons why others reported long after the abuse had occurred.
They could feel conflicted and confused if their abuser was also a loved one, someone they knew or a person in a position of power over them.
Victims could be threatened, manipulated, embarrassed and feel they would not be believed.
They are more likely to report sexual abuse when they are in a safe, stable environment.
Sergeant Pitt said there were counselling and support services available and victims are encouraged to contact the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111.