Welcome to today’s edition of The V Word. Your host today is Carol Olson.
Listen to today’s episode here
You have been hearing a lot about the charge against Bill Cosby for sexual assaulting numerous women. The question I have been hearing the most is “Why did they wait so long to report” “Why now?”
The reality is that many survivors of sexual assault wait to report. They can wait several days or wait years. and statistics show that 60% of rapes are not reported to the police.
There are many reasons why survivors do not feel safe to report immediately. The Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Center has posted information on the reasons why:
Safety is an important factor. Many survivors will face further abuse, face stalking and harassment by the offender if they report, face retaliation in the workforce and in their social lives.
- The victim may feel that she/he is to blame for what happened – and our society continues to blame victims of rape and abuse.
- The victim may feel embarrassed about what happened – a dynamic that continues to be feed through our society that victims should be able to control the perpetrator.
- The victim may believe that the justice system is uncooperative, inefficient, or victim-blaming.
- The victim may not want the perpetrator to get in trouble – most perpetrators are known to the survivor and society still gives the message that it is the perpetrators life to not be ruined.
- The victim may not want her/his family to find out.
- The victim may not recognize that she/he was raped – our society gives many false messages about what rape is.
- The victim may have been threatened by the perpetrator – threats to hurt her/him, threats to hurt loved ones, or threats against their career.
- The victim may fear retaliation by the perpetrator if she/he was to report.
- The victim may fear that she/he will not be believed and is obvious, survivors are not always believed.
- The victim may have already had a bad experience with the police.
- The victim may know someone who reported and had a bad experience with the police.
- The victim’s friends and/or family may not support reporting.
- The victim’s friends and/or family are telling the victim it was not rape.
- There may be cultural considerations that lead the victim to avoid the police at all costs.
What can you do?
Need to find the statute of limitations on reporting sexual assault in your state, you can find information on the Victims of Crime . org website (our blog will have the direct link for you)
In Virginia, there are no statutes of limitations in reporting. You can report at any time. Also, in 2007 then Governor Tim Kaine put in force Executive Orders that states a survivor of violence can go to an emergency room and request a PERK exam, that is a physical evidence recovery kit, without having to report to police and that the state will store the evidence until the survivor is ready to report. As evidence needs to be retrieved from the body, usually within 72 hours, this order allows survivors to have evidence collected but still have time to report.
Other places you can find information in Virginia is: Department of Criminal Justice Services website www.dcjs.virginia.gov
For information on how to report an assault in the Richmond, Virginia, USA are, you can call the non-emergency line at 804-646-5100 or go by a local police station office. The main Richmond office is located at 200 West Grace Street.
To get a forensic exam to collect evidence and receive medical care, the local hospitals in the Richmond area with Forensic Nurse Examiners are at Medical College of Virginia and St. Mary’s Hospital.
For help with counseling and advocacy, local rape crisis centers, child advocacy centers and domestic violence shelters can provide services. To find a center closest to you… you can call the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238. That is the Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238.
Want to share a story or ask a question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at my twitter account: @preventviolence. You can read the transcript for this show and past shows on my blog at www.thevword.org
The V Word is recorded in the studios of WRIR-LP 97.3 and streamed at wrir.org, read and produced by Carol Olson and Jennifer Gallienne. Sound Engineering is provided by Bryon Connelly. Music is provided by the Etching Tin.