Victoria Police statistics show that, since the late 1980s, there has been a significant increase in reported rapes in that State. One interpretation of this trend is that there has been an increase in the underlying incidence of sexual violence in the community. An alternative explanation is that rape victims have become more willing to report to the police, in response to factors such as improved provision of support services to sexual assault victims, reforms to substantive and procedural law, and changes in police attitudes and procedures. In order to rest these competing interpretations data were collected and analysed on the characteristics of rapes reported to the Victoria Police in the late 1980s/early 1990s. This analysis showed that: (I) most of the additional offences reported in the early 1990s were allegations of rapes committed by family members, spouses and other intimates; and (2) an increasing number of reports related to offences which had been committed at feast one year prior to a report being made to the police. It is argued that these changing patterns are consistent with a significant increase in the reporting rate for rape. More generally, the research reported in this paper highlights the limitations of reported crime statistics as measures of the level of social violence, and points to the need for crime researchers to develop alternative methodologies for measuring and interpreting trends.