Rape is one of the most heinous crimes, but the choice to pursue legal action or press charges against a rapist is personal and should never be taken lightly. Some victims have conveyed that reporting and pressing charges against these criminals helped them get closure and control of their lives.
Every person has their own reason for pursuing charges. Victims must weigh all their options to decide the right choice for them. Knowing how to press charges and report rapists can help victims feel more prepared.
Common Concerns About Reporting A Rape Or Sexual Abuse
According to data collected by the Rape Abuse And Incest National Network, only 32 out of every 100 rapes get reported, while only 2 rapists will actually end up spending a day in prison. Before reporting a rape, many victims have certain concerns about reporting. Understanding the common concerns will help victims make a decision that’s best for them. Some of the concerns are:
- Attempted Rape: Attempted rape is as serious as the crime itself and can be reported. These are usually taken seriously and the criminal can be charged. For instance, Reginald Green was accused of sexually assaulting his victim at a Philadelphia city center SEPTA station and is facing attempted rape charges.
- Criminal Known To Victim: Based on a report by the University of Minnesota, over 70 percent of victims know the perpetrators. It is extremely unnerving to be sexually violated by a known person. Irrespective of the relationship between the victim and criminal, rape is a crime and should ideally be reported.
- Cannot Report Because The Victim And Criminal Are In A Relationship: Despite being in a relationship, victims should keep in mind that sex is purely consensual. If the victim did not consent, then this is classified as rape and can be reported.
- No Physical Injuries And No Proof: Many rapes and sexual assaults do not lead to physical injuries. While it may not be visible on the surface, victims can have a forensic exam for DNA evidence that isn’t necessarily visible on the surface.
- Police Don’t Believe Victim: The U.S. police are well trained to deal with this issue, so most stations are equipped to treat the victim with care and understanding. If a victim encounters a cop who fails to take the case seriously, then the supervisor may be called in.
- Crime Happened Too Long Ago: Many victims fail to report a sexual assault or rape because they believe that the crime happened too long ago. The fact is that every state has a statute of limitations, which empowers victims to report a rape or sexual assault years after the crime has taken place. For instance, the statute of limitations for rape in Pennsylvania allows victims to report a crime within 12 years of the offense.
Paying For DNA Examinations
Since 2009, the law states that victims will not be billed for the direct costs associated with forensic exams for sexual assaults. In some cases, they will need to provide reimbursement for the cost of a forensic exam, irrespective of whether the victim is cooperating with law enforcement. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency offers the Victims Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP), which will cover costs for forensic exams, medical expenses, and counseling for victims of rapes.
Communication With Law Enforcement Officials
When victims decide to talk to law enforcement officials, they have certain rights that they must be aware of. Other things to be aware of are:
- Privacy: When victims discuss the details of the rape of sexual assault with law enforcement, they have the right to seek privacy.
- Several Hours: The process of reporting a crime may take several hours, but this is normal and victims should be prepared for it.
- Supervisor Request: Victims who feel that their statements aren’t taken seriously can ask to speak to supervisors and higher-ranking officers.
- Preparation For Uncomfortable Questions: The nature of the crime means that some questions will seem intrusive and uncomfortable. Some questions may be repeated more than once, but this is because law enforcement officials want victims to consider things you may have forgotten before.
- Support: Victims have the right to have support when discussing their rape or sexual assault situation.
Knowing what to expect from the process can help victims feel more comfortable and secure.