What if I was abused years ago?
Many of your options are still open for consideration. While you can still report the abuse at any time, your legal options may be limited depending on state laws like the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations is the time allotted for victims to pursue legal action against the perpetrators. For a more in depth understanding click here. Each state has a different time period designated for the limitation— click here to view each states’ law.
Can I file a police report after a Statute of limitations window has closed?
You can still file a police report after your window has closed. This is especially important if the perpetrator still works around children, or other potential victims that he/she could be preying on. Even though the perpetrator can’t be charged with the crime committed against you, it’s good to have on file in case another victim comes forward with a similar story. Filing a police report may also allow you to use the Crime Victims’ Fund for services such as counseling. For more about this click here, and to find out about your states’ fund click here. Learn more about filing a police report here.
can I still file a police report after the perpetrator has been charged with another crime?
Even after the perpetrator has been charged with another crime, you may file a police report. If you are within the SOL, legal justice can still be served— the perpetrator may still be convicted and receive additional sanctions or a civil suit. In most jurisdictions, this may also allow you the opportunity to give a victim impact statement. Learn more about filing a police report here.
What if I can’t remember everything that Happened?
It is ok to not remember. If you cannot remember something, it is ok to say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” when talking to friends, or throughout the reporting process. Memories of traumatic events are laid down differently to everyday memories. Usually we encode what we see, hear, smell, taste and physically sense, as well as how that all slots together and what it means to us – and together, those different types of information together enable us to recall events as a coherent story. But during traumatic events our bodies are flooded with stress hormones. These encourage the brain to focus on the here and now, at the expense of the bigger picture (1).
What if the person I told isn’t supportive?
We are sorry this happened to you, but know you are not alone. Realize that although that person may not be supportive, there are people out there willing and able to support you in even better ways. For more advice and thoughts from a survivor who has experienced something similar, click here.
What if I was drinking underage?
It’s important to remember that sexual assault is a crime—no matter the circumstances. You did nothing wrong. There is a false assumption that exists that when alcohol is involved in assault, it lessons the crime— as if the perpetrator is somehow less responsible for his/her actions under the influence, but the victim is more responsible if they’ve been drinking. This is wrong. Nothing you did caused this to happen.
In many states, and in institutions like Universities, Amnesty clauses have been put in place. Amnesty clauses (also known as ‘Good Samaritan’ provisions) grant immunity from consequences of drug, alcohol, and other minor student conduct infractions that could discourage reporting of sexual misconduct (2). Do not let the fact that there was alcohol involved discourage you from pursuing any of your options. If this is not an option, talk to an attorney. Underage drinking is a lesser crime than sexual violence and in some cases can be dropped.