Accessing legal help
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
After facing sexual assault, you may choose to report the case and seek legal recourse to fight your case in court. To report a case to law enforcement and to pursue it in court is a decision for you to make. For some, reporting has been seen as an act of liberation and closure, and has helped them heal, while some feel more comfortable about not reporting. Either way, it is a choice you are free to make, and must make upon having all the information you need. If you want to report a case of sexual assault, here are a few pointers:
1) Start by reporting to the police. Especially if you are at immediate risk, since they will come to you.
2) When you report your case to the police, you will have to turn in as much evidence as you can to support your case. Make sure that you visit a medical center and tell the service provider there that you want to report the case, and therefore, all that must be preserved as evidence must be preserved appropriately.
3) Reduce your report in to writing at the earliest. This will help you ensure that you do not forget any essential details - trauma and stress can make it difficult to recall incidents, especially when they are triggering and painful.
4) In most instances when you report a case, there will be a follow up of questions and investigations. This can be triggering and traumatic, so it is always a good idea to have a good support system to help you through this - you could rely on friends or family, or even seek out the help of an organization around you, or a lawyer.
5) In many countries, reporting and filing charges on cases of sexual violence is subject to a rule called the Law of Limitation or the Statute of Limitation - which means that a case must be filed within a certain period of time for the law to respond and act on it. This is different from country to country, and in some cases, state to state within a country. Please consult a lawyer to help you through the filing process and the time limitations within which it must be done.
6) Some things you can remember or may want to know are:
- Any case of sexual assault, be it an attempt or a complete offence can be reported
- Even if you know the person who assaulted you, you have full rights to report the case
- Even if you have been intimate with the person who assaulted you, or are in an intimate relationship with the person who assaulted you, you have every right to report assault. Remember, consent given once is not blanket consent.
- There are many instances of sexual assault that do not result in external wounds or injuries. Despite it, you can report assault. Do get a medical exam done to document all injuries, both, external and visible and those under the surface and not visible.
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