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"One year ago, I locked my door and went to sleep; like we all do on any given night. Unfortunately, this night was like no other before and was one I will never be able to forget. I woke up that night to a co-worker who had undressed himself, crawled into my bed and raped me. "
Kathleen, rape survivor

Rape is a crime, talking about it isn't. SPEAK.

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Reporting Rape and Sexual assault

       Survivors of rape may have a hard time deciding whether or not to report their sexual assault to the police. Rape prevention and counseling experts strongly advise victims to report the rape to the authorities so that their assailants can be brought to justice. While there is no way to undue the rape, reporting it to the police will help to stop the perpetrator from harming other victims in the future. Additionally, rape victims can feel a sense of closure when the rapist is brought to justice and convicted accordingly.

       Rape victims are not required to report their experience to the police. Although it is unlikely that the district attorney will pursue the case without the consent and cooperation of the survivor, the district attorney does have the right to pursue the rapist even if the survivor chooses not to participate. If a third party is witness to the crime, however, they are required to report it to the police.

       To report rape or sexual abuse call or ask someone else to call 911. Victims can also report the rape from the hospital emergency room. After you have told the medical professionals that you have been raped, a trained trauma counselor will help you during this important first step of recovery by listening to your story and comforting you through counseling. The medical professionals will then treat you for STDs, injuries, evidence of date rape drugs, and the possibility of pregnancy. You may also elect to have medical professionals collect evidence from your body and clothes that will help build a case against your assailant.

       There is no time limit on how long you have to report a rape, but it is always best to report it as soon as possible. Additionally, some states have statutes of limitations that will allow the rapist to get off without any recourse after a certain number of years.

       Even if the assailant did not complete the rape, a crime still occurred. Attempted rape is a very serious crime and your testimony could stop the rapist from targeting a new victim. You can report the rape even if you have not been injured. As a matter of fact, most rapes do not leave physical injury and a rape has occurred any time that one person forces a sexual act on another person. It does not matter if you knew the person and even if you invited that person into your home, once an act of sexual aggression that was not consented by you occurred, you have the right to report the crime and seek help.


       Survivors may feel that they need time to decide whether or not to pursue prosecuting their assailant and this is totally understandable. After the attack, you will have a great deal of varying emotions to work through and may want to work through your trauma before deciding to face the legal process and police reports. However, it is best to file the police report as soon as possible in order to make a statement while the memory is still fresh in your mind so that you can most accurately describe what happened. Additionally, the statement and the evidence that can be collected from you right after the rape will be imperative in building a successful case against the rapist. Finally, if you have considered applying for compensation through the state’s Victim Compensation Fund your rape must be reported to the police first. To speak to a counselor concerning your situation and your options, you can call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network at 800-656-HOPE.

       While reporting rapes is always preferable to not reporting, if you decide not to report it to the police, do seek out professional counseling to help you through the emotional turmoil that the rape can have on you.

If you are a survivor of rape, sexual abuse, incest, or molestation, you deserve to be supported and we are here for you. Join our message board, forums, and chat room for survivors and victims of sexual violence.

For more information, Reporting the crime to the police and the judicial system..

© 2007 After Silence - This document is distributed for informational use only; it does not constitute legal and/or medical advice and should not be used as such. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced without express permission.


This site is offered for support of other rape and sexual abuse survivors. It is not meant to be a substitute for any kind of professional help.
If you are in a crisis situation we urge to contact your local rape crisis center or health care professional.

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