If you have been sexually abused it is important that you tell the police, so that they can investigate the case and find your abuser. You should go to the police to report the abuse as soon as possible after it has happened. The sooner you report the case, the easier it will be for the police to get the evidence they need to find your abuser. However, the police must still investigate the case even if you take a long time to report it.
Remember: If possible, don’t go to the police station alone. Take someone you trust with you to support you.
1. Which police station should I go to?
You can go to any police station to tell them what happened. The police must open a docket and take down your statement. If you report the abuse at another police station, the docket will be moved to the police station closest to where you were abused.
2. What if i want to speak to a woman at the police station and not a man?
You have the right to speak to a female police officer. The police must find a female officer to speak to you and write down your statement. You don’t have to be left alone with a police officer if you are scared. Your friend or family member can stay with you.
3. What language should I use to give my statement?
You have the right to speak to the police in your home language. If the police officer who is taking your statement does not speak your language another police officer must be found to translate what you say.
4. What if I don’t want to tell the police what happened in front of other people, or if I don’t know how to tell them what happened?
The police must speak to you on your own in a room away from other people. If you don’t know how to explain what happened, you can also write it down, or you can draw pictures to show the police what happened. It is normal to feel scared or nervous about talking to the police.
5. What must I tell the police to put into my statement?
You must tell the police everything that happened to you. Some questions the police might ask you are the following:
* Who sexually abused you? Do you know your abuser’s name?
* What does your abuser look like?
* When and where did the sexual abuse happen?
* What did your abuser do to you?
* Did your abuser scare you with a weapon?
* Did your abuser give you drugs or alcohol?
* Did your abuser promise to give you something in exchange for sex?
6. What happens after I tell the police what happened?
After the police have written down your statement, they will read it to you to make sure that they have written down everything you said.
If the statement describes everything that you can remember, you will be asked to sign the statement and the police officer will put a police stamp on it. Only sign the statement if you are sure that it includes everything that you told them. If the police officer has written down something that is wrong or incomplete, do not sign the statement. You might have to tell them what happened a second time so that they can write it down again.
You should only sign the statement once it contains the full story as you told it to the police. You can change your statement as many times as you need to before you sign it.
You have the right to make a copy of the statement. If the police officer can’t make a copy for you right away, you should go back to the police station to fetch the copy the next day. Otherwise take a photo of the statement with your phone.
The police will then give you the name of the investigating officer. Keep the name and contact details of the investigating officer safe.
It can take a long time for the police to find all of the evidence that they need to find your abuser. You must be patient. The police have a duty to tell you how far they are with the investigation.
Remember: It may be difficult and upsetting for you to answer these questions and it may also take a long time, but remember that it is very important to tell the police everything. Take as much time as you need to so that you are able to remember as much as possible. There are no right or wrong answers. It is important that you tell the truth even if you are scared.
Very important! Before you leave the police station, you must get this information:
* The CAS number for your case. You will need the number if you want to find out what is happening with your case from the police.
* A copy of the statement that you made to the police.
* The phone number of the police station.
* The name and phone number of the police officer who has been put in charge of investigating your case. If the police don’t give this to you when you go to them, they must SMS or send it to you the next day.
7. What happens when the police have completed their investigation?
When the police have completed their investigation, you will meet with the prosecutor, who is the lawyer who will argue the case. The prosecutor will ask you questions. Ask him or her to read your statement first and then ask you specific questions. You have a right to have someone with you when he or she questions you. If the prosecutor believes that there is enough evidence, the case will go to a criminal trial.
Please note: The prosecutor – and not the police – makes the decision whether or not to take the case to court, after the police have finished their investigation.
The following people will be at the court on the day of the trial:
* The magistrate or judge, who will look at the evidence and decide whether the abuser is guilty and how he or she should be punished.
* The prosecutor, who will use the evidence to try to prove that the abuser is guilty.
* The person who abused you. He or she may have a lawyer, who will try to prove to the court that your abuser is not guilty.
* The translator, who will translate if the people in the court speak different languages. (If the translator translates what you said incorrectly, you can correct him or her.)
* The clerk of the court, who assists the magistrate or judge.
Remember: You are a witness. The case is between the State and the person who hurt you. You are not a client BUT you have a right to know what is happening with the case. Sometimes the prosecutor or a lawyer will ask you questions that may make you feel like you did something wrong. You have done nothing wrong!
It is a good idea for you to bring someone you trust to the court. You will be asked to answer some questions about what happened. The magistrate, the prosecutor and the abuser’s lawyer may ask you questions, and these may be very detailed. Your answers will help the magistrate decide if your abuser is guilty.
This will be scary. It is important to tell the truth about exactly what happened. Think carefully, answer slowly, take your time. You can take as long as you want to.
You may be allowed to answer the questions through an intermediary, in a separate room away from everyone else. The people in the court room will be able to see you through a one-way mirror or over a video camera. You will be asked to speak into a microphone. You will not be able to see or hear anyone else in the court room. This will make it less scary for you.
Your abuser and anyone else who saw or heard what happened may also have to answer questions about what was done or seen or heard. This will all help the magistrate or judge to make a decision.
The magistrate or judge will firstly decide whether your abuser is guilty or not. If he or she is found guilty, the magistrate may want you, the abuser and the other witnesses to answer more questions. This will help him or her to decide how your abuser should be punished.