When deciding whether to report sexual assault to law enforcement officers, you need to be aware of what is involved in this process. This knowledge will help you make the decision that will work best for you.
When someone reports a sexual assault to the police, they need to gather, evaluate and process the evidence and/or information. They have to critically assess whether this evidence is enough to prosecute the case no matter what their personal feelings. Part of being impartial investigators is that the police officers may call you the victim- they use this term to refer to any person that has had some crime/s committed against them.
Some Things to Keep In View
To help police personnel gather evidence, you mustn’t:
- Bathe or shower
- Throw away your clothes or even change
- Comb your hair
- Wash your hands
- Consume alcohol
- Take any drugs
- Disturb the area where the sexual assault occurred
There isn’t any set time limit to lay charges/report sexual assault. However, it’s best to contact the police as soon as possible as it becomes much easier for them to gather all the evidence they need to prove your charge.
In case you do report the sexual assault within a matter of 168 hours/ 7 days, the police officers will ask you whether you would want to consent to the SART exam, which a SART nurse at a local hospital can conduct. SART is a skilled team of registered nurses (all female) that are specifically trained to care for those who have been sexually assaulted.
If you give your consent, the nurse will then exam you and collect forensic evidence and document injuries. These would be used in the court processes in case you lay the charges and would be used in all police investigations.
Note- Police can collect forensic touch evidence in case you report the offense within thee days of that occurrence. If there has been oral to skin contact or skin to skin contact, there may be chances of collecting evidence. The process would be completed by a specially-trained police officer at a police station.
Ways in Which You Can Report
- You can call 423-4567, which is the Police Non-Emergency line. In case you need immediate emergency help, you should call 911).
- The police officers would be sent to your location, and they may also offer to take you for medical attention to the hospital.
- They will start the report and include all details of the occurrence.
- If there isn’t any safety risk after that, they will conclude the contact with you.
Go To The Hospital
- You can also go to the hospital, get examined, and inform the triage nurse about the sexual assault.
- You can also ask to see a SART nurse at the hospital. These nurses are generally available 24/7 and will be there in under an hour.
- They will conduct a physical & genital examination to assess whether there are any injuries.
- The nurse will give you detailed information about the necessary follow-up medical care.
You also have the option not to report the assault to the police but get counseled Sexual Assault Centre in your local area.
If you decide to file a case and go the legal route, contact a skilled and experienced lawyer to handle the case for you. The legal process can easily take anything up to two years from when the initial report was filed to the police up to the court date, and you need a competent legal expert in your corner for it.