Monday, March 7, 2011

From the beginning

So, I realized I didn't explain the process of how I went about reporting what my uncle did to me to the police.  Well, I did some research first to find out who I should report to, as I already said I reported in the wrong county at first because I didn't see anything to tell me definitively which county I needed to report it to.  This mistake caused the process to take longer, and once my statement got to the correct county I had to be requestioned and go through my whole statement again.

What I found out in my research was that I had a choice; I could go to the regular police station and make a report with whatever officer I happened to get or I could call and speak to a detective from my county's special victim's unit and make an appointment to go in and give my statement to them.  I chose to do the latter.  Honestly the deciding factor was that when I called I was given a female detective and I felt much more comfortable giving my statement to a woman and didn't want to risk getting a male detective.  Also, I thought it would be less scary to walk into an office building rather then the police station.  This may be different in other counties or states, but both SVU units I've dealt with in two different counties in my state were housed in an office building and not the police department.

In my research and in my advocacy training I've heard horror stories of people who went to the police and were not believed or were discouraged.  This made me really appreciate that I had the option of going directly to the Special Victims Unit and filing a report that way.  I would definitely recommend looking into this if you are thinking about reporting.  The most appealing thing about the SVU to me is that they are trained to deal with rape survivors, and also that they are in that field because they care about the subject and want to help survivors.  In my advocacy experience though I can also say that I have not personally encountered a police officer that treated a rape survivor negatively, or that didn't seem like they believed her.  I think that a lot of times all we see are the horror stories because people who complain are more likely to want to be heard than people who've had a good experience.  Also, I think that in the last ten or so years there has been a lot more training of the general police regarding sexual assault, and a lot more education around victims, so I would like to believe that if you were to file a report regarding sexual assault with the regular police you would have just as good of an experience reporting as I did.

For me reporting to the Special Victims Unit detectives was definitely the right choice.  Reporting was really difficult, and I'll go into more about that next time, but the SVU detectives made it as easy as was possible.

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