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University of Gothenburg

Quality of initial meetings with women who report rape

This three-year project aims to study how women who have been raped perceive the contact with first responding police officers and medical care givers and further, what experiences first responders have of these meetings.

The quality of initial police and medical care contact after being raped can have great impact on the victim's ability to process and cope with what has happened. However, results from previous research indicate that many victims of rape perceive contact with community representatives after a sexual assault in ways that hinder rather than help. In relation to research focusing the juridical process, research on the contact with first responders is far less studied.

The project can be described in three phases:

  1. Focus groups with police officers and medical care givers;
  2. Interviews with women who have been raped and who have made a police report and/or undergone a medical examination;
  3. Questionnaires to women who have been raped and who have made a police report and/or undergone a medical examination.

Contribution of project results

The focus in the project is on both the professionals’ perceptions and the victims’ experiences. This can lead to targeted efforts to improve first responders’ capacity to meet a raped woman in a both professional and empathic way. The project is expected to generate knowledge that can be used in protecting and caring for victims and further, to offer adequate training for professionals.

The project Female rape victims: Quality of initial police and medical care contact is funded by the Swedish Crime Victim Compensation and Support Authority. Ph.D. Lisa Rudolfsson is the project leader and associate professor Elisabeth Punzi is a researcher within the project.

Keywords: Focus groups, Police, Raped women, Re-victimization, Secondary traumatization


Facts about rape in Sweden

  • Swedish legislation defines rape as intercourse or equivalent sexual acts, depending on the degree of violation, with a person who is unwilling, unable to either comprehend or consent to the act, or in some way dependent on the perpetrator (Criminal Code, 1962/2018 , Ch. 6, §1; project leader translation).
  • Although Swedish police investigate 94% of the reported cases of rape, only 5% lead to successful prosecution and sentencing.
  • In 2019, a total of 8580 rapes were reported to the Swedish police. However, the Swedish Crime Survey from 2019 reports that 9.4% of all women in Sweden had been subjected to one or more serious sexual assaults (≈ 482,400 women ), which is in line with the accepted supposition that most cases of rape go unreported.
  • Women are significantly and unquestionably, more often victims of sexual abuse than men are. In 2019, of the total number of reported rapes in Sweden (8580), 7940 involved a female victim (Brå, 2019 ).