‘Too ugly to be raped’: Queensland inquiry hears police were dismissive of domestic violence victims

Officer gives evidence of colleagues describing rapes in intimate relationships as ‘surprise sex’, and saying they ‘deserved to be raped’

A Queensland police officer broke into tears as he told a commission of inquiry that he witnessed domestic violence victims being turned away and colleagues claiming some victims “deserved to be raped”.

The officer, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, gave evidence that he had heard colleagues make offensive remarks about victims who were raped in intimate relationships, claiming it was “surprise sex” or they “deserved to be raped”.

Officers have also said “domestic violence is just foreplay”, “she’s too ugly to be raped” and “I can see why he does it to her”, he told the inquiry into police responses to domestic and family violence on Wednesday.

He said he has heard female colleagues being called “Cunty McCunt Face”, “fucking sluts”, “bitches” and “mole” behind their backs.

The inquiry heard that some victim-survivors reporting allegations of violence have been turned away at the front counter of police stations, with some officers reluctant to take further action unless they have other evidence.

“Often what I’ve observed is police saying, ‘Why aren’t they calling us when this happened? We can’t do anything about it now’,” the officer told the inquiry.

“Occasionally, I’ve seen victim-survivors dig their heels in. But then if they become loud they’re warned in relation to public nuisance offences, and that’s usually enough for them to leave the station.”

The officer said he’s experienced colleagues becoming angry with him when he has made further inquiries into domestic violence incidents and updated reports with crucial information that had been left out or described in vague terms.

“We need more police training,” he said.

“We need to be co-locating with DV services so survivors feel safe … so that they don’t have to front up to the police station where they’re not going to be listened to or taken seriously.”

He was aware of “a couple” of officers who had been accused of perpetrating domestic and family violence but consider themselves to be victims, the inquiry heard.

The officer spoke of a concerning statement made by a colleague in about 2017 or 2018, which led to him making an internal complaint.

“One of the other members … who had had kind of cross order stuff going on with a partner, said really angrily, ‘I’ll kill her’, in reference to his ex-partner,” he told the inquiry.

He told the inquiry that on one occasion he was in a police car with an officer who deliberately drove away from a suburb to avoid responding to a domestic violence incident.

“I’m telling them what job we’re going to, they’ve interjected and gone, ‘No, no, no, no, fuck that, we’re not doing this job,” he said.

Officers have also claimed that some victim-survivors were attempting to game the family court system and trying to “screw” over the perpetrators during conversations in break rooms, he told the inquiry.

Racism within the police force is also pervasive, the hearing was told, with offensive slurs used to describe Indigenous Australians and an officer commenting: “What do we expect? He’s a savage.”

The officer told the inquiry he’s seen Chinese and Taiwanese domestic violence victims mocked and “treated with derision” due to their inability to converse with police without an interpreter.

He said sexual harassment by male officers towards female officers is so pervasive that it’s ignored or treated as “casual”. He said he’d heard male officers tell female colleagues that they wanted to see “more cleavage”.

The officer said he received an email from a colleague late last year telling him they didn’t think there was an issue in how police responded to domestic violence.

“I’m sorry to be so emotional but that was the most disappointing email I’ve ever received,” he sobbed. “It’s so clear to me that some of the core business that happens in my station, it’s misogyny and it’s dehumanisation, and it is negligence.”

Queensland Police said it was “encouraging and supporting current and former officers in contributing” to the inquiry.

“One officer has given evidence about their previous experience of negative and concerning behaviours at a particular police station,” a spokesperson said. “The QPS will work with the commission of inquiry to examine those issues and to respond to ensure that organisational values, standards of practice and responsibilities are being maintained and, where the opportunity arises, enhanced.”


Eden Gillespie

The GuardianTramp

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