How to Report Sexual or Domestic Assault

According to a 2019 study, 24% of American women surveyed experienced domestic violence in their immediate environment, including in their own families. However, few go to the police. According to expert estimates, about 60–70% of women faced with such a situation do not go to law enforcement agencies. Some do not trust the police, others are not ready to destroy their families, and others are simply not sure that they will cope with bureaucratic procedures and legal subtleties. We have prepared clear and simple instructions on what to do and where to go if you are faced with domestic violence.

Think about your safety

Try to get to a safe place where nothing threatens you. This could be a crisis center or the homes of friends whose addresses your abuser does not know. You can also call a crisis center for advice and a “safety plan” and “domestic violence treatment plan”.

You have several options for reporting sexual assault:

  • Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911;
  • Contact the local police department;
  • Visit a medical center.

Seek medical attention

If you have become a victim of domestic violence, you should contact the nearest emergency room (you can also call an ambulance) and ask your doctor to describe all the injuries you received. Talk about everything without hesitation and tell who exactly beat you. You can ask someone close to inspect you so as not to miss traces in areas that you cannot see. If you feel soreness inside, be sure to tell your doctor about it – this could be a sign of serious damage.

Make sure that the doctor writes down everything you told him/her and the date of the injury. These documents will be of great importance in a forensic medical examination. After the examination, the doctor is obliged to send a telephone message to the police about the alleged crime.

Follow all doctor’s recommendations

If the doctor referred you to a local therapist or a neurologist, or recommended to undergo certain examinations and tests, be sure to do this. At first glance, minor damage can have serious health consequences. In addition, documents on the treatment received will help to correctly determine the severity of the harm caused to your health. Be sure to apply for certified copies of all medical documents (in case the originals are lost).

Write a statement to the police without delay

Despite the fact that the doctor sent a telephone message to the police, you need to go to the station yourself and write a statement. It should be done immediately or the next day. The delay will raise questions in court. Try to consult with a lawyer before visiting the police.

Please describe in great detail what happened in your application.

Tell the police in great detail what happened to you. You can write the entire sequence of events on a piece of paper in advance so as not to miss anything. Even if they say to you: “Now we will save time, you will tell everything later.” Insist on a detailed survey protocol. Then it will be used in court.

Most likely, you will be asked about the number of hits and their localization. Try to remember these circumstances in as much detail as possible. If you have been abused by the same person before, talk about it. Indicate if you went for medical help and where, if you reported to the police.

Read any documents carefully before signing them. If you find any inaccuracies in the survey protocol, ask for corrections.

Provide evidence

Find witnesses

If you are beaten in front of other people, be sure to write this on your statement and ask the police to interview witnesses. Indirect witnesses come in handy too. For example, if relatives or friends saw you in good health yesterday, and today you have signs of beating, their testimony will be taken into account. There are rarely direct witnesses in domestic violence cases, so this testimony carries weight.

Use cameras

If the attack took place on the street, inspect the perimeter of the site and find out who owns the cameras on it. If possible, contact the owner and download the desired record. It is important to do this as soon as possible: as a rule, the record is kept from three to five days. In the application, inform the police about the presence of these cameras, their owner and, if it was not possible to obtain the recording on your own, ask the police about it. If they are in no rush to get the recording, they can do so at a lawyer’s request.

Don’t remove threats

If you were threatened in chats or instant messengers, where the sender can delete messages both from himself and from you, you need to make print screenshots of the messages. If you are faced with the dissemination of your personal information – most often they are sent to relatives and colleagues at work – ask them not to delete these messages and send print screens to you.