Victims who delay coming forward

To be eligible for assistance as a victim of crime, a person should apply to VOCAT within two years of the crime occurring. However, VOCAT is required to have regard to the circumstances of victims who apply to VOCAT outside the two-year period.

There are many reasons why a victim might delay reporting an incident to police or applying to VOCAT for assistance. Victims of family violence of an emotional, psychological, economic, threatening or coercive nature often avoid reporting violent incidents to police. Reasons for this include fear of violent retaliation, being trapped in a cycle of abuse, or fear that life will get worse if they try to leave a partner. Similarly, victims of sexual abuse often avoid coming forward after assaults because the violence is too uncomfortable to speak about. They might feel shame, embarrassment, or worry that they will not be believed. In cases where a person is a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it may take years for that person to realise the nature and impact of the abuse.

Other times, a victim may simply have more pressing needs than to come forward about a crime. These might include an urgent need to relocate, find stable housing if they are homeless, or recover from a drug habit. In other cases, a victim may simply have too much on — children or relatives to support, and full-time employment.

It is okay to not be ready to report a crime. Although from a policing standpoint, it is easier to gather evidence about a crime the sooner it is reported, VOCAT understands that there are many reasons why a victim might delay coming forward (See below). None of these instances are a bar to bringing a VOCAT application, and it should be remembered that VOCAT will consider these factors and will not unreasonably penalise victims for delay.

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