Reporting sexual assault to the Police
When reporting sexual assault to the Police time is an important factor to consider.
When did the sexual assault or sexual abuse take place? When reporting sexual assault to the Police time is an important factor to consider. This is because there are different steps to consider if the assault took place within 72 hours, or outside that time. See below.
Within 72 hours:
If it is within 72 hours since the sexual assault or sexual abuse took place, it is important that you consider the below.
- Do not shower or have a bath – this is because you may be able to get a Medical Examination completed. This is a way of obtaining DNA evidence that the Police can use in the investigation process. You may be surprised what could be used, ie skin under your fingernails etc.
- Try not to use the restroom – until after the Medical Examination
- Do not remove the clothes you were wearing during the assault/abuse. If you have, do not wash them and place them in a clean bag to give to Police.
- Do not brush/comb your hair – until after the Medical Examination
- Do not clean up the area – until after Police have examined it.
- Do not obtain medical care – until after the Police Medical Examination is completed. This is because it may remove potential evidence that the Police may be able to use.
Outside 72 hours:
If the sexual assault or sexual abuse took place over 96 hours ago the above ie not changing clothes/brushing your hair is less important.
If you have physical injuries
If you have any physical injuries, or could be at risk of infection or pregnancy please seek professional medical attention, however if you intend to report the crime to Police, it is suggested that you undertake the Police Medical Examination first. This way possible evidence will not be lost.
Reporting the crime
In Queensland there are two ways you can report the crime to Police for the purposes of them investigating this:
1. Formally reporting the crime
If you wish to make a formal report to Police in person, they will then investigate what happened to you. There are some practical steps that our trained practitioners can talk you through when you call. We sensitively remind you that showering or disposing of clothing that you were wearing during the attack is not recommended prior to forensic examinations. This is because it could contain vital evidence the Police could find helpful.
If it is outside the 72 hour time frame you can still report the assault formally with the hope for an investigation to occur. However, because of the extended timeframe, a Forensic Medical Examination will not be completed.
2. Reporting the crime anonymously
If you want to report what happened to you anonymously, the Police will not proceed with an investigation. There are a number of reasons why survivors may not want to be identified or become involved in a public investigation; you may simply feel that you want to get on with the healing process in private. The choice is always yours. In these circumstances an ARO (Alternate Reporting Option) is available; you can report the crime by providing information, which may be of assistance to the Police in investigating other crimes. You can complete a sexual crime survey which can be downloaded from the Queensland Police Service website www.police.qld.gov.au and remain anonymous.
Unsure of the facts? If you are unsure what to do, make a note of all relevant facts examples include:
- the date
- the time
- the location
- what you remember about the location
- what you recall happening to you
- whether someone else saw what happened
- whether you have told anyone about what happened to you
No matter what you decide you must remind yourself that sexual assault and sexual abuse is a crime and you should never blame yourself!
For more information, please visit the Adult Sexual Assault section at www.police.qld.gov.au