How to Report Abuse
Deciding whether or not to report sexual abuse is a personal decision. Not every victim of sexual assault will choose to report their experience. However, some survivors do find strength and empowerment through the legal system.
How Do I Report Sexual Assault?
There are several ways to report sexual assault or abuse. Reliving the trauma can be difficult for survivors, so it is best to choose the reporting method that is most comfortable for you.
Contact Your Local Law Enforcement
You can contact your local police department by phone or in-person to report the crime. Campus-based law enforcement is an additional option for those on a college campus. Reporting a crime to law enforcement is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit against an abuser. A survivor may file a police report to document the incident without pressing charges or filing a lawsuit.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Visit a Medical Center
If you sustained injuries during your assault, visit a hospital, clinic or another health center to have your injuries treated. You might also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam if your medical center provides that service. While seeking medical attention, you can tell the healthcare professional that you would like to report the crime. They can assist you with the next steps.
A sexual assault forensic exam, typically known as a “rape kit,” collects DNA evidence that can be used to build a strong legal case against the abuser. Even if you are unsure about pressing charges or filing a lawsuit, it is always a good idea to seek a forensic exam. You have the right to get a forensic exam regardless of whether you intend to report a crime, press criminal charges or file a civil claim.
Connect with a Local Rape Crisis Center
Talking to the police or a medical professional about an experience of sexual assault can be overwhelming. The National Sexual Assault Hotline can connect you with the nearest sexual assault service provider. These local organizations provide education, counseling, and advocacy to survivors. You can reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673).
Seek Legal Guidance
It can be extremely difficult to file a report and consider legal action against an abuser. However, there are several benefits to survivors who bring their abuser(s) to court:
- Survivors receive the possibility of financial compensation.
- Survivors confront the physical and mental damages that they’ve suffered.
- Survivors help end the cycle of abuse carried out by their abuser.
There’s no need to travel the path to your deserved justice alone. Our experts have the tools, experience and determination to help.
Is There a Reporting Deadline?
Every state has a statute of limitations for certain crimes. This is a filing deadline that people must abide by in order to file civil or criminal charges against a perpetrator. Survivors considering legal action need to report the incident and file a claim before their state’s statute of limitations passes.
How Do I Report Child Sexual Abuse?
To report child sexual abuse, you must have reasonable suspicion that abuse is happening, but you do not need proof to contact the authorities. This is known as a “good faith” report. Abuse may be reported to local law enforcement or child protective services depending on state laws.
When you make a report, a certain amount of information is required including the child’s name, age, and address, as well as the type of abuse suspected. The reporting agency will be able to determine if there is enough information to act upon. You can always add to the report if you discover more information at a later date.
Every state has mandatory reporting laws related to child abuse and sexual assault committed against a minor. The laws themselves differ between each state, including which professions are required to report abuse. The most common professions include teachers, school staff and healthcare professionals. However, some states’ laws require any person with knowledge of sexual assault against a child to report it. Those with knowledge who don’t report can be prosecuted for their inaction.
If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
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If you or a loved one have suffered from the physical, mental and emotional effects of institutional sex abuse, you’re entitled to legal representation and possible financial compensation.
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