Sexual Assault : Getting Help
Making a Police Report
When to contact the police
If you want to make a police report, contact the police as soon as possible. Call 911. The sooner you make a report, the more likely it is that the police will be able to collect important evidence and apprehend the assailant. A prompt report can also strengthen a case for prosecution. However, even if some time has passed since you were sexually assaulted, it is never too late to make a police report or to seek help from other victim assistance agencies.
In many communities, police officers have had special training in assisting sexual assault victims. If you want to know about the police in your area, contact a counselor or an advocate at a local rape crisis center. Rape counselors and advocates are likely to know how the police in their community usually respond to sexual assault reports. Advocates can also accompany you when you make a police report.
Houston Area Resources
Some reasons for making a police report
- To regain your sense of personal power and control: Many victims say that after a sexual assault, they are left with a feeling of powerlessness. Often, victims begin to feel better when they find ways to regain their sense of personal power and control. Making a police report is one way to do something about what happened to you. Taking action can give you a sense of empowerment.
- To document the crime that was committed against you: By making a police report, you will be creating a formal, legal record of the crime that was committed against you. Even if you are unsure at the moment whether or not you want to participate in the prosecution of your assailant, a police report is useful if you later decide that you want to do so.
- To preserve evidence of the assault: In most communities, if you make a police report within 72 hours after the assault, the police will assist you in getting a specialized medical examination. During the examination, a doctor or nurse will gather physical evidence and document the findings in a medical record. Like a police report, a medical record may provide valuable evidence if the assailant is prosecuted.
- To protect others from being sexually assaulted: Most rapists are repeat offenders. They commit a large number of crimes, and they hurt many people. Your report may help the police arrest and prosecute a sex offender, which in turn may help prevent others from being sexually assaulted.
Making a delayed report
It is never too late to make a police report or to seek help.
Many sexual assault victims do not report the crime immediately. A delayed report is better than no report at all. Many survivors who did not report their victimization immediately have found that making a late police report - days, weeks, months, or years later - helped them to feel a sense of empowerment and resolution. Since most rapists are repeat offenders, your report may also help the police identify a crime pattern or an assailant who has attacked other victims.
Remembering more details about the assault after the initial police report
If you remember more details after you make the initial police report, you can contact the police to provide them with the additional information. Immediately after the assault, you may have been too upset to remember everything that took place. Although difficulty recalling details is distressing, it is a very common reaction to a traumatic experience. Many victims recall more details in the days and weeks following the assault.