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ARISE Assault and Rape Information, Support and Education

How to Report a Rape

 
 
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Am I required to report the rape?

No, it is your decision if you want to report the rape.

Depending on your situation, you may have the option to report it twice: once through the Civil/Criminal process facilitated through the Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office and once through the FGCU Office of Student Conduct (if the alleged attacker is also a student).

Rapes allegedly committed by a Florida Gulf Coast University student can be reported and adjudicated by the Office of Student conduct. However, in cases of concurrent criminal prosecution, the University will likely wait for the criminal case to be concluded.

Keep in mind that if you want to report a rape, you have the choice to report it to the police, the Office of Student Conduct (if the incident involved another FGCU student), or both.  To file a report with the Office of Student, click the following link https://fgcufsl.wufoo.com/forms/information-incident-report/ or contact the Office of Student Conduct at (239) 590-7900.

Below are additional links to the Student Conduct/Title IX website:

http://studentservices.fgcu.edu/StudentConduct/13247.asp

http://studentservices.fgcu.edu/StudentConduct/conduct.html

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Is there a time limit on reporting to the police?

Florida state has a statute of limitations ranging from 3-4 years depending on the felony degree. However, to maximize the chances of an arrest and successful prosecution, it's important that you report as soon as possible after the rape to gather and preserve evidence. If you aren't sure what to do, it's better to report now and decide later. That way, the evidence is preserved should you decide to pursue prosecution.

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What if I need time to think about whether I want to pursue prosecution?

Understandably, many people aren't ready to make the decision about prosecution immediately after an attack. It's normal to want time to think about the decision and talk it over with friends and family.

If you think you might want to pursue prosecution, but haven't decided for sure, it is recommended that you make the police report right away; while the evidence is still present and your memory is still detailed. The district attorney will decide whether or not to pursue prosecution; however it is unusual for cases to proceed without the cooperation of the survivor. And if prosecution is pursued, the chance of success will be much higher if you reported, and had evidence collected, immediately after the attack.

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Can I file a report even if I have no physical injuries?

Yes. In fact, most rapes do not result in physical injuries. Therefore, the lack of such injuries should not deter you from reporting.

It's also important to get medical care and to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, even if you think you aren't injured. Keep in mind that rape can cause injuries, often internal, that aren't visible. Many hospitals have special equipment that can detect such hidden injuries.

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The rapist got scared away before finishing the attack. Can I still report it?

Yes. Attempted rape is still a serious crime and should be reported.

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I knew the person who raped me and invited him/her in. Can I still report it?

Yes. Most of survivors know their attacker. And the fact that you were voluntarily together, or even invited him/her home with you, does not change anything. Rape is a serious crime, no matter what the circumstances.

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Do I have to go through the police interview alone?

In most areas, a trained volunteer from your local rape crisis center can accompany you to the police interview. The volunteer can also answer your questions about the process and explain how it will work. There are two centers in the area, Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT) 239-939-3112 (Lee County) and Project Help 239-649-1404 (Collier County).

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What's the interview process?

In most cases, the police will come to you and take a statement about what occurred. It helps to write down every detail you can remember, as soon as possible, so you can communicate the details to the police.

In addition to taking a statement, police will collect physical evidence. Also, the rape crisis center may conduct an exam to collect hair, fluids, fibers and other evidence.

The police interview may take as long as several hours, depending on the circumstances of your case. Some questions will probably feel intrusive, and the officer will probably go over the details of your attack several times. The extensive questioning isn't because the police don't believe you; it is the officer's job to get every detail down precisely and to make the strongest possible case against your rapist.

Most local crisis centers have staff trained to help you through the reporting process. They can answer your questions and, if necessary, advocate on your behalf. There are two centers in the area, Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT) 239-939-3112 (Lee County) and Project Help 239-649-1404 (Collier County).

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I'm afraid that if I report, I will regret it.

That's certainly possible. However, many people who don't report later regret that decision. The decision to report is a personal decision that only you can make.

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I'm afraid that my actions will be scrutinized and I'll have to testify about intimate details of my personal life.

Many successful prosecutions end in a plea agreement, without trial, which means that the survivor will not have to testify. However if your case does go to trial, you will generally have to testify. Although there are no guarantees, prosecutors have legal tools they can use to protect you in court. One tool is called a rape shield law, which limits what the defense can ask you about your prior sexual history. The prosecutor can also file legal motions to try to protect you from having to disclose personal information

If you are worried about having to testify about intimate matters such as your own sexual history, let the police or prosecutor know about your concerns. They can explain the laws in your state and help you understand what might happen if you do go to trial.

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I'm afraid of getting in trouble.

Sometimes survivors, particularly youth, are afraid of getting in trouble for doing something they weren't supposed to be doing when the assault took place, such as drinking or sneaking out.

While there’s a possibility that you can get in trouble, most authorities (and parents) will be understanding, particularly about minor infractions.

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What if I decide not to report?

Reporting is a very personal decision, and you should make the decision that's right for you. While we encourage you to report, if you decide not to, for whatever reason, that's perfectly understandable; there's no reason to feel bad about your decision.