Jodie Murphy wants to see all women taken seriously when reporting sexual assaults.

Murphy, an associate professor in Lakehead University’s school of social work, and her research team interviewed 23 sexual assault survivors in Northwestern Ontario who reported the incidents to police, but had their reports deemed unfounded.

“That means there is no basis for the allegation and it’s essentially been deemed a lie,” said Murphy, who along with her team, presented their work at St. Joseph Care Group’s 2020 Showcase of Health Research Friday morning at the Victoria Inn.

Many of the women that Murphy’s research team spoke with had vulnerable lives and felt it was those vulnerabilities, which included sexual abuse in their childhood, criminal history, alcohol or drug use, led to them not being believed.

“In terms of the police process and communication from the women’s perspective, they felt the police were insensitive in terms of their questions they asked of them,” said Murphy. “They felt like the investigation was not full.”

Police often didn’t followed up with the women and therefore they never had closure, she added.

“So it left them with a lot of feelings of anxiety, depression, lots of negative coping strategies,” said Murphy, noting many of the women ended up losing trust in the institutions designed to protect them.

“So they didn’t want to turn to police for subsequent victimization because they felt, ‘What’s the point? I’m not going to be believed anyways,’” she said.

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