So. You’re thinking of going to the police.
Here are some immediate questions to consider, and a walkthrough of what this process may look like. These come with a heavy trigger warning.
First of all, ask yourself:
Did I go to the hospital after my incident(s) at any point? Did they complete a rape kit?
Do I know the name of the person who attacked me? And what they look like?
Do I know where I was attacked? Or where I was before I was attacked? Do I know/remember the attack?
Do I have any witnesses to account for where I was and when, etc? Did anyone else I know see my attacker or see anything that could be useful?
Do you remember the date and time you were attacked?
Do I have any clothing from the incident with DNA on it? Unwashed? Kept in a paper (not plastic) bag?
If you are a survivor and you read through that whole thing, I’m already proud of you for being strong enough to stick that out. Those are not fun words or memories for us to call on. Just wanted to say that.
Those are all questions the police will ask you. Just the basics. Then, they will ask you to moment by moment recall each detail you remember of the night(s) you were attacked. They ask questions that are uncomfortable to answer. They ask for specifics. It’s nasty, ok? Be prepared for that. But it’s needed for the investigation.
Now that you have reflected on those questions, here is a heavy truth that you need to face.
Some cases have only some of the evidence listed above – and they DO charge the attacker very quickly. Some cases have even MORE than what was listed above, and they will never receive justice. SOMETIMES your case won’t receive justice BUT your accusation can aid ANOTHER survivor’s case, and together, you can bring them down.
There are so many factors to these cases. One small thing can make or break your case. Having the answers to the questions above as all YES will help the police, but do not guarantee the case will even see a courtroom. This is simply the reality.
Now that you have an idea of your odds, let’s discuss WHY you may choose to, or not to report, despite them.
Reasons to report:
- It may give you a feeling of control over the situation.
- Once the process ends, it may give you a feeling of closure.
- To potentially protect others from going through what you did/are.
- The possibility of justice.
- You will have access to Crime Victim Assistance (financial, counselling and more) & other victim assistance programs (see resources)
Reasons not to report
- You will likely have to recount and face your trauma multiple times over, which worsens PTSD (ex, telling your story every step you take through the system)
- You will likely feel disrespected and misunderstood by the system at times which is triggering.
- If you have no evidence and so the added trauma is not worth it to you.
- You don’t have a support system to walk with you through the process and you feel incapable of handling it by yourself.
- You have others who need you as healthy as possible (ex, children) and therefore you cannot risk the added trauma limiting your availability to help those in your care.
Whichever your reasons, they are valid. And they are yours. And no one can tell you they are wrong. No one knows what it’s like to be in your shoes except you. You know what’s best for you.
If you know that reporting is NOT good for you and those in your care right now – or that it is not worth it to you – DON’T. We applaud you for making that decision.
If you feel like you may have the capability – but still aren’t sure – reach out. We can help answer your questions and help you decide. And we applaud you for making that decision.