Chapter 2
Prevalence and harm of sexual violence

Where does sexual violence occur?

2.10The victims and perpetrators of sexual violence do not, as a group, conform to any stereotype. An act of sexual violence may be perpetrated in a one-off incident between acquaintances or friends. It may occur in a family home between family members over several years, and the perpetrator may be a child or much older than the victim.

2.11Sexual violence can occur in an ongoing, long-term relationship, often in concert with other kinds of violence and abuse (physical, emotional and psychological). In such cases, sexual violence is a form of intimate partner violence perpetrated in the context of a pre-existing domestic relationship, which is also likely to be characterised by economic dependence and emotional manipulation. Sexual violence in the context of an intimate partner relationship does not conform to the stereotype stranger rapist on which many “social fears and vulnerabilities” are projected.74

2.12Sexual violence may be perpetrated against a young person or a child by a family/whānau member or a friend, often on repeated occasions and spanning several years. Sexual violence against a child raises complex legal issues because of the age of the victim and their particular vulnerability and because the incident may not be revealed until some years later. Child victims will have special additional needs, including at trial, or if the violence only comes to light several years later, there may be issues with evidence.

74Kathleen Daly “Reconceptualizing sexual victimization and justice” in Inge Vanfraechem, Antony Pemberton and Felix Mukwiza Ndahinda (eds) Justice for Victims (Routledge, Abingdon, 2014) at 380.