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Reporting Rape

How to report rape or sexual assault


The most important thing to know when reporting is that you need a victim's advocate from your local rape crisis center. Some other aspects to consider are:

Sexual Assault Exam|Victim Advocate|Victim Compensation|Victim Notification|Pursuing Charges|No Contact Order|Restitution |Victim Impact Statement.


"Survivors who had the assistance of an advocate were significantly more likely to have police reports taken and were less likely to be treated negatively by police officers. These women also reported less distress after their contact with the legal system. Similarly, survivors who worked with an advocate during their emergency department care received more medical services, including emergency contraception and sexually transmitted disease prophylaxis, reported significantly fewer negative interpersonal interactions with medical system personnel, and reported less distress from their medical contact experiences." (Campbell, 2006)

State crime victim phone numbers for Crime Victim Compensation, Domestic Violence Coalitions and Sexual Assault Coalitions.

Federal agencies phone numbers.

Resources for International Victims.


The officers will likely ask why the victims waited to report. Common factors are:

  • Fear of reprisals,
  • Not being able to identify an assailant,
  • Anxiety ahout having own conduct scrutinized.
  • Undeserved guilt combined with embarrassment
  • Victim/self-blaming (Frasier, 2006) more


Ways to get a better conviction rate:


You have the right to ask for information about

  • The course of the proceedings
  • Victim’s rights throughout the proceedings
  • Support available in case of threats by the perpetrator
  • Confusing legal language
  • Psychological counseling

"One of the basic rights of crime victims granted under victim-orientated legislation introduced during the last 20 years in more than 100 countries worldwide is the right to be referred to victim support by the police." (Winkel et. al., 2004)


Steps in reporting:

Since the order and procedure varies by location it is a good idea to ask your local rape crisis center.

"For victims, the experience of reporting rape falls into several different stages. Depending on the circumstances of the case, some of the stages may overlap, some may be omitted and the order in which they occur may vary but broadly speaking they are as follows [in the UK]:

(i) Contacting the police

(ii) First encounter with the police

(iii) The medical

(iv) Making a statement

(v) Investigation of the case

(vi) Follow-up

(vii) Court " (Temkin, 1999)

Diagram on crime victim treatment from JONATHAN SHEPHERD's Editorial on Victim services in the National Health Service (NHS)


How to find an advocate - International


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USA Information on reporting

Reporting a sexual assault

Reporting an assault from better health

Reporting information and advocacy services in the US


US Army reporting



International resources on reporting

UK Information on reporting


A detailed outline on reporting in the UK


Sexual Offences Interview Techniques


UK Reporting

Scotland Reporting


Glasgow Reporting




Canadian reporting laws



Crime prevention resources in Canada


Sexual assault: Guide to the criminal justice system in Canada. Women's International Network News, Winter95, 21(1), p41, 1/3p

Review of:


"This guide provides information about each step of the criminal process, from the option of reporting a sexual assault to the police, through sentencing, to appeals of a trial verdict. This guide does not pretend to advise women about whether they should report sexual assault or enter the system. What if does hope to do is provide some idea of the hazards and hurdles that will be experienced at each and every step . . ."


Davies, Graham; Lloyd-Bostock, Sally; McMurran, Mary; Wilson, Clare; Oxford, England: Walter De Gruyter, (1995). The criminal justice response to sexual assault in Canada. Roberts, Julian V. In: Psychology, law, and criminal justice: International developments in research and practice. pp. 384-393. [Original Chapter] link


What happens when you report

A fact sheet on going to court

The Law and Sexual Offences Against Adults in Australia

Child Abuse Information and Resources


New Zealand

How to report rape

Research on reporting in NZ



Reporting a rape in South Africa




Reporting Sexual Assault: A Social Ecology Perspective


Books on reporting sexual assault and rape


The encyclopedia of violence : origins, attitudes, consequences

DiCanio, Margaret. (1993). The encyclopedia of violence : origins, attitudes, consequences. New York : Facts on File

HM291 .D4857 1993 Davis Ref, UL Ref, HSL books

Rape p. 211

This entry covers the definition of rape, statistics on rape, the history of rape and the fact that less than 10% of rapes are reported. It states that "psychological trauma and humiliation overwhelm many victims... trying, alone, to regain their sense of personal integrity that was destroyed by the intrusion of rape." p. 211

Interestingly it states that in 1960 law enforcement cited false reporting at 20%. By 1973 the statistics had dropped to 15%. After 1973 the New York city police department used female officers to investigate sexual assault cases and the rate dropped to 2% according to the FBI.




Bureau of Justice Statistics


"45% of injured female victims of a reported attempted rape compared to 22% of injured victims of an unreported attempted rape received medical treatment, 1992-2000"

In 1960 law enforcement cited false reporting at 20%. By 1973 the statistics had dropped to 15%. After 1973 the New York city police department used female officers to investigate sexual assault cases and the rate dropped to 2% according to the FBI.

DiCanio, Margaret. (1993). The encyclopedia of violence : origins, attitudes, consequences. New York : Facts on File

Ways to improve conviction rates


  • Emphasizing the psychological impact of the attack on victims
  • Explaining why victims wait so long to report
    • "Failure to report was associated with personal, physical, social, or sexual disorders stemming from the rape; denial of the rape act and its consequences; rationalization and the attempt to find an explanation for the rape in terms of the victim's own actions; and the attempt to work through the experience by themselves. Ss reporting the 1st incidence of rape were significantly more likely to show responses reflecting anxiety, humiliation, and anger and to be familiar with the rapist. Ss who did not report their first rape were more likely to express embarrassment, whereas reporting Ss showed higher levels of fear, guilt, and stigma." (Peretti, 1983)
    • "Factors influencing victims' likelihood of reporting a rape include the victim-offender relationship, the rapist's method of approaching the victim, and the occurrence of physical injury or sexual humiliation." (LeBeau, 1988)
    • "Factors influencing police reporting include fear of reprisals, not being able to identify an assailant, antagonistic attitudes towards the police and anxiety ahout having own conduct scrutinized (Clarkson et al., 1994)."


Research on improving the reporting procedure

Barriers to reporting

"Nine themes describing the existence of barriers to reporting.

(1) difficulties encountered when reporting;

(2) doubts by providers about the validity of the accusation;

(3) lack of services, inadequate number of hours, too few providers;

(4) community and family reluctance to acknowledge the problem of sexual assault;

(5) fear of the perpetrator, the examination and of public exposure;

(6) acquaintance with the perpetrator;

(7) impaired cognitive ability and

(8) feelings of vulnerability, guilt, humiliation and the desire for secrecy.

(9) An unexpected and disconcerting finding was the admitted reluctance of service providers to provide service for victims of sexual assault." (Young, 2002) link to article

"Findings indicate that barriers prevalent 30 years ago, prior to efforts by the rape reform movement, continue to be considered important among college men and women. The barriers rated as the most important were (1) shame, guilt, embarrassment, not wanting friends and family to know; (2) concerns about confidentiality; and (3) fear of not being believed. Both genders perceived a fear of being judged as gay as an important barrier for male victims of sexual assault or rape and fear of retaliation by the perpetrator to be an important barrier for female victims." (Sable & Danis, 2006)


"Of 500 questionnaires distributed to women undergraduates, graduates, and faculty members at a university, 167 (33%) were returned. Analysis of these revealed that only 18% of the adult women's rapes and only 11% of the assaults on children were reported. For adult women, the primary reason for not reporting seemed to combine a type of guilt with embarrassment. The implication is that although external social factors have changed, the internal psychological barriers to rape reporting may remain." (Binder, 1981)

"125 adult victims receiving care at 19 sexual assault centers (SACs) in the State of Maryland. More than one half of the victims (55.6%) waited years before disclosing, with delays in reporting especially likely if the assault was perpetrated by a family member (the most frequent perpetrators at 42.4% of respondents). About one half of the victims (51.3%) had been previously sexually assaulted, yet only 9% of these victims had sought treatment. The majority of respondents (69.4%) indicated they would not be filing charges against perpetrators, and of those who did, 46.2% reported dissatisfaction with the interview with police. Psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety were the most common reasons for seeking care at the centers. Nearly all of respondents rated the care they received at the centers as very good or excellent. Respondents recommended more SACs, better advertising of their services, more mental health care within them (especially group therapy), and improved laws and law enforcement of perpetrators." (Monroe, 2005)


"Secondary victimization can be reduced by offering victims more legal and psychological counseling during the criminal proceedings. Legal counseling
issues address information about the course of the proceedings, about the victim’s rights throughout the proceedings, about support available in case of threats by the perpetrator, and about confusing legal language (Bennett et al., 1999). Psychological
counseling can help victims to prepare for, and go through with the trial, and then to cope with their experience in the criminal proceedings." (Orth, 2002)


"The under-utilization of psychological services by crime victims who are objectively in need of external support is substantial. Current legal procedures tend to perpetuate this unwanted condition. Programs aimed at the early detection and prevention of persistent postvictimization distress are more in line with the ideals of therapeutic jurisprudence. The RISK (10) screening instrument, which was specifically developed to be administered by police officers, may provide a basis for early detection. RISK (10) consists of a selection of 10 Risk factors with prior empirical evidence and theoretical significance. " (Winkel, 2004)


Protocol for the Acute Care of the Adult Patient Reporting Sexual Assault



Issues of Cost, Quality, and Access to Sexual Assault Services



Directory of crime victim sites


Search terms:

In google: Reporting a sexual assault

These searches worked best using a multi-search of several databases on general, sociological, current events (news) and psychological subjects:

DE "Crime Victims" and reporting

DE "Crime Victims" and reporting and procedure

DE "Crime Victims" and reporting and procedure and rape

DE "Crime Victims" and reporting and rape

*Crime Victims; *Criminal Justice; *Family Violence; *Health Care Services; *Legislative Processes; Crime; Enactments; Health, *GOVERNMENTAL investigations, *RAPE -- Investigation, *RAPE victims, *SEXUAL harassment of women, *SOLDIERS, *ARMED Forces, *WOMEN soldiers, Sexual behavior
UNITED States, Crimes against *Abuse Reporting; *Cross Cultural Differences; *Human Females; *Law Enforcement; *Rape; Asians; Whites, *Abuse Reporting; *Crime Victims; *Laws; *Rape; Victimization *Abuse Reporting; *Blacks; *Human Females; *Myths; *Rape; Authority; Crime Victims; Legal Personnel,

Library of Congress Subject Headings:

Rape -- United States -- Investigation.
Police questioning -- United States.
Criminal justice, Administration of -- United States.



Bibliography on reporting rape

Justice Administration databases to search at the library: Criminal Justice Abstracts, NCJRS


Bachman, R. (1993). Predicting the reporting of rape victimizations: have rape reforms made a difference?
Criminal Justice and Behavior, 20 (3) pp. 254-270.

"Victims were significantly more likely to report a rape if the offender had used physical force and if the victim had received medical attention for injuries sustained during the commission of the crime. Unlike earlier research, the present study found that victims were not more likely to report a rape if the perpetrator was a stranger or if the victimization occurred away from the victim's home."

Binder, Renee L. (1981). Why women don't report sexual assault. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 42(11) 437-438. link

Campbell, Rebecca (2006). Rape Survivors' Experiences With the Legal and Medical Systems. Violence Against Women, 12 (1), p30-45, 16p.

Clay-Warner, J.; Burt, C. H. (2005). Rape reporting after reforms: Have times really changed? Violence Against Women, 11(2). pp. 150-176.

"rapes committed after 1990 were more likely to be reported than rapes occurring before 1974. Aggravated rape continues to be more likely to be reported than simple rape"

Du Mont, J., Miller, K., Myhr, T. (2003). The role of `real rape' and `real victim' stereotypes in the police reporting practices of sexually assaulted women. Violence Against Women, 9(4), pp. 466-486.

"This research investigates whether, as some feminists have argued, myth-associated characteristics of sexual assaults play a role in the police reporting behaviors of women. The sample included 186 sexual assault victims seen at a hospital-based sexual assault care center in a large urban area in Ontario, Canada in 1994. Logistic regression analysis revealed a positive association between reporting a sexual assault to the police and two overtly violent components of the so-called real rape myth: the use of physical force and the occurrence of physical injury."

Frasier, Robert (2006). Rape myth acceptance and deterrents to rape reporting among women. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, Vol 66(8-B), 2006. pp. 4481. link

Jordan, J. (2004). "Beyond belief? Police, rape and women's credibility." Criminal Justice, 4 (1) pp. 29-59.

"Cues and triggers that appeared to influence officers' assessments of complainants' credibility included intoxication, delayed reporting, previous consensual sex with the alleged offender, previous complaint of rape, psychiatric disturbance and intellectual impairment, perceived immorality of the complainant, previous false complaint, and concealment. In general, the study substantiates that many female rape complainants continue to battle to gain credibility in the eyes of police officers, and that stereotypically based judgments continue to negatively affect police perceptions and decision making."

Keilty, J., Connelly, G. (2001). Making a statement: An exploratory study of barriers facing women with an intellectual disability when making a statement about sexual assault to police. Disability & Society, 16(2), pp. 273-291.

LeBeau, James L. (1988). Statute revision and the reporting of rape. Sociology & Social Research. 72(3) 201-207.

Maciejewski, Simone Irene (2002). Cultural influence on reporting rape to police: A comparison of Japanese American women and European American women. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 63(5-B), pp. 2592.

"Clinical implications for therapists, police officers, and crisis counselors who work with Japanese American rape victims are discussed, as well as suggestions for education and outreach to destigmatize rape victimization within the Japanese American community. Future research is also suggested to understand how these findings may apply to women of other Asian cultural groups."

Meier, Robert F., Pino, Nathan W. (1999). Gender Differences in Rape Reporting. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. 40.

Me´nard, Kim S. (2005) Main Title: Reporting sexual assault : a social ecology perspective. New York: LFB Scholarly Pub.

Monroe, Laura M.; Kinney, Linda M.; Weist, Mark D. (2005). The Experience of Sexual Assault: Findings From a Statewide Victim Needs Assessment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 20(7) pp. 767-776.

Orth, Uli (2002). Secondary Victimization of Crime Victims by Criminal Proceedings. Social Justice Research, 15 (4), p313-325, 13p, 3 charts

Peretti, Peter O.; Cozzens, Nancy (1983). Characteristics of female rapees not reporting and reporting the first incidence of rape. Corrective & Social Psychiatry & Journal of Behavior Technology, Methods & Therapy, 29(3), 1983. pp. 82-87.

Sable, M. & Danis, F. (2006). Barriers to reporting sexual assault for women and men: perspectives of college students. Journal of American College Health, 55 (3): 157.

Shepherd, J. (2005). Editorial: Victim services in the National Health Service (NHS): Combining treatment with violence prevention. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health, 15(2) pp. 75-81.

Soothill, K; Grover, C. (1995). "Changes in the Newspaper Reporting of Rape Trials Since the Second World War." In: Home Office Research Bulletin, N 37 P 4549. London, England (1995). 5 pp. NCJ-159526.

Sorrentino, Renee (2006). Sexualized Violence Against Women and Children: A Psychology and Law Perspective. Psychiatric Services, 57(3), pp. 425. link

Temkin, Jennifer (1999). Reporting Rape in London: A Qualitative Study. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. 38 (1), p17, 25p; (AN 3254120)

Victoria, Ombudsman (2006). Improving responses to allegations involving sexual assault. Melbourne, VIC.

Winkel, F W; Vrij, A. (1993). Rape Reporting to the Police: Exploring the Social Psychological Impact of a Persuasive Campaign on Cognitions, Attitudes, Normative Expectations and Reporting Intentions. Oson, England. 18 pp. NCJ-150995.

Winkel, Frans Willem; Wohlfarth, Tamar; Blaauw, Eric; (2004). Police Referral to Victim Support: The Predictive and Diagnostic Value of the RISK (10) Screening Instrument. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. 25(3) pp. 118-127.

Young CL (2002). Barriers to reporting sexual assault as identified by sexual assault service providers: a qualitative study. University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, D.N.Sc. (66 p). link




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