Whether or not to report a sexual assault or sexualized violence to the police is a decision that many people who have experienced gender-based violence have to make.
There are many reasons why going to the police may not be or seem like an option for a survivor of gender-based violence –
- They may be criminalized due to their work, such as sex work, and fearful that reporting an assault may result in arrest or worse.
- They may have had oppressive experiences with police in the past and fear more of the same.
- They may be concerned about the police not believing them or concerned about police brutality.
- They may feel that the legal system cannot offer justice to them.
- They may fear the heightened police presence as a result of a report, in their home, community or neighbourhood.
- They may know the person who caused them harm, and feel conflicted or unsure whether or not they want to report them to the police.
- They may fear that reporting a sexual assault could jeopardize their immigration status, or that a report may expose their undocumented status.
These fears are just and valid. There are people who can support a survivor who has concerns about reporting, advocates who can support survivors to seek out justice in ways that fits for them and work with them to consider different options and people who can support a survivor’s healing process. You can always access support services at AVP, whether you have reported an assault or not. Everyone has the right to heal.