The decision to report to law enforcement is entirely up to the survivor. Support people should take care to really discuss the wishes of a survivor before encouraging/discouraging any type of report. Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives. Other survivors report feeling unheard and revictimized by reporting. Understanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared.
How do I report interpersonal violence?
You have several options for reporting a crime:
- Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
- Contact local the local police department. Call the direct line of your local police station or visit the station in person. In Fort Collins, there are several jurisdictions that a student may report to. If the assault happened on campus property, the report would go to CSU Police at 970-491-6425. If the assault happened in the city limits of Fort Collins, the report goes to Fort Collins Police at 970-221-6540. If the assault happened in Larimer County (outside Fort Collins) the report goes to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office at 970-498-5100.
To learn more about the options in the CSU community contact an advocate at the WGAC who will walk you through the process of getting help. Should you chose to report to law enforcement they can help it be at your own pace.
At the WGAC, we can help all victims of interpersonal violence, regardless of their decision to report. If the victim chooses not to report, they will still be welcome to meet with one of our advocates, attend a support group, receive academic support and access any of our additional resources.
If the survivors chooses to report, our advocates can sit with the victim as they report to the police, help navigate the process after reporting and explain the paperwork, and accompany the victim throughout the court proceedings.
Is there a time limit on reporting to the police?
In short, yes. This window of time you can report a crime is called the statute of limitations. In Colorado, if a person was under the age of 18 when the assault happened, there is no statute of limitations. If the survivor was over the age of 18, the statue of limitations is 10 years.
Do I have to report to get SANE test done?
By law, you are not required to report to law enforcement in order to receive a sexual assault forensic exam, commonly referred to as a “rape kit.” In Colorado, exams can be collected in one of three ways, including anonymously.
What are some common concerns about reporting?
If you have questions or concerns about reporting, you’re not alone. Reporting an assault to police may seem like a natural step in resolving the issue. However, many sexual assault victims don’t make an official report. Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes – less than 40% of sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement. The list below may have answers to some common questions that are on your mind.
- I am confused about what happened. OR I blame myself for what happened.
It is common to feel confused about what took place. Speaking to a confidential advocate can help to provide clarity of laws and whether or not what happened to you is reportable. Remember, consent is what is in question with sexual assault- the absence of a “no” does not mean that you did not experience assault.
- I know the person who hurt me.
On a college campus about 97% of survivors know their perpetrator. It can be unnerving to be violated by someone you know. Regardless of who perpetrator is, sexual assault is against the law. Sometimes survivors are struggling with whether or not they want the perpetrator to receive punishment or not. This is a common concern, and one that can complicate the decision to report or not. Additionally, acquaintance assaults on a college campus often happen within friend groups. Survivors can really struggle with the idea of their assault becoming public knowledge within their social circles.
- I’ve been intimate with the perpetrator in the past, or am currently in a relationship with the perpetrator.
Sexual assault can occur within a relationship. Giving someone consent in the past does not give them consent for any act in the future. If you did not consent, they acted against the law—and you can chose to report it. Additionally, dating violence is much more common on a college campus that you may think.
- I have no physical injuries, and I’m worried there’s not enough proof.
Most sexual assaults do not result in external physical injuries. It’s important to receive medical attention to check for internal injuries. You can also choose to have a sexual assault nurse exam (SANE) to check for DNA evidence that may not be visible on the surface.
- I’m worried law enforcement won’t believe me. OR I have had a bad experience with police in the past.
While there are exceptions, there has been an investment in police training on this topic. Many survivors find that just the act of reporting makes them feel like they did all they could, whether their case moves forward in the system or not. Speaking with a confidential advocate can sometimes help survivors to determine if reporting is right for them.
- I don’t want to get in trouble.
Sometimes minors are afraid of being disciplined, either by the law or by their parents, because they were doing something they shouldn’t have when the abuse occurred. For example, someone underage might have been consuming alcohol. It’s important to remember that sexual assault is a crime—no matter the circumstances. Nothing you did caused this to happen.
- There may be cultural considerations that lead the victim to avoid the police at all costs.
Lived experiences often help to formulate people’s willingness to involve police. Some cultures believe that these matters need to be handled within the family. Some survivors may be afraid of their family finding out through the reporting process. Some survivors may have historical issues with being mistreated by police authority. This is a complicated and complex decision it can help to talk to a confidential resource to seek support in making a decision around reporting.
- The perpetrator got scared away or stopped before finishing the assault.
Attempted rape is a serious crime and can be reported. Reports of attempted rape and other assault are taken seriously.