Seeking police help
Filing a case with the police with a report of sexual violence is the first step you take when you want to press charges against the one who was violent with you, abused you or threatened harm to you. Should you press charges? To press charges or not to press charges remains a decision that falls entirely within your domain to make. If you choose to press charges, remember that there is such a thing as the statute of limitations that applies. This means, that there is a window of time within which you can report a case of sexual violence. For more information on the law of limitation in different countries, look up our legal library. When you press charges, you must produce evidence of the abuse. Remember to record photographs of bruises, save copies of threatening and violent correspondences, and enlist those who can stand in as eye-witnesses, if any. It is important to remember that saving evidence of this sort must be done only if you are safe while doing so. Rely on a lawyer, or a trusted friend or family member when you are reporting the violence you faced, and have them accompany you, as well. You may need a medical examination and it is a good idea to have support by your side while you do. If you decide not to press charges, that is perfectly understandable – you may take steps to ensure that you have a route to stay safe and are not vulnerable to abuse or violence. What happens when you report your case? Upon reporting a case to the police, they are legally under an obligation to reduce it into writing. In some countries this is called a Police Report, in some countries, it is called a First Information Report, among other names. This record must contain your testimony in full, with information of the date, time, your identity, and any evidence you place on record. If you are being referred to medical examination, details of that are also mentioned in the report. Police action and investigation following a complaint or a report are dependent on local laws to a very large extent, but by and large, they are expected to begin an investigation, gathering of evidence, and making an arrest of the accused based on their investigation and evidence gathered. Once the person is arrested, legal proceedings can begin. Once you report the case to the police, it is a good idea to build rapport with them to facilitate follow ups, and alternatively, to even approach an organization that can help you with police follow ups. During the investigation, the police may require you to come down to the station a few times for interrogation and for information. They may also bring in people you know and are close to, as well. If the police decides not to conduct an investigation, they must indicate clear reasons why they decide thus. Who can report a case to the police? Across most jurisdictions, a case can be reported to the police by one of three: one, the person against whom the offence was committed (i.e., the survivor); two, any person who knows that this offence has been committed – it can be a family member, a friend or anyone; three, a person who has seen the offence while it’s being committed – as a bystander witnessing the crime.