With You We Can is a victim-led network demystifying the police and legal processes for victims of sexual violence while working to improve them. Uniquely informed by both sector and lived expertise, we want victims for whom it is safe to report to be empowered to do so, and for all victims to be informed of their options.
Perpetrators of violence have a reasonable expectation that they will not be held accountable. They hope that victims will feel shamed into silence. Then, even if they wanted to speak up, victims are fearful of the judicial process. And with good reason…
The police and legal processes can be entirely re-traumatising – not just because they involve recounting assault in detail, but because they take away a victim’s agency, just like it was taken during their assault, just as they have chosen to reclaim it.
Victims feel in the dark, out of control and alone as a witness in the state’s case against the perpetrator. Support is limited, impersonal and conflicting. Those tasked with providing answers often don’t have them. Beyond systemic flaws are cultural deficits, where men’s violence against women has been normalised and archaic misconceptions worsen an already isolating process. These problems are amplified for Indigenous peoples, people of culturally diverse backgrounds, people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ communities.
But our answer is not to wait for societal overhaul; we need change now. Advocates are pushing from both ends, ground up sex education and top down law reform, all of which will prevent a proportion of sexual assaults in the future. While we join the push, With You We Can is bridging gaps between the police and legal processes to help victims now, by diminishing two of the most significant barriers to reporting – a lack of support and a lack of information. The flow-on effects of doing so help more than the individual victim.
If we create understanding around our criminal justice system, not just for victims going through it but for the general public who might otherwise not engage, we are better placed to reform it.