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Contacting the police


It is difficult to say what the exact procedure will be when you contact the police to report a sexual assault, because many things depend on the details of the assault. But no matter the circumstances, you can be sure that the police will do everything they can to help you.

Many people go their entire lives without having to call the police, and when you have little experience with law enforcement and have just been involved in a sexual assault, the idea of contacting the police can be scary and shrouded in uncertainty. But it is very important to report the assault to the police, even if you don’t want to pursue a full investigation or file any charges. Reporting the assault can help you regain a sense of power and control and will allow you to both document the crime and collect and preserve evidence. Reporting can also protect other people from being assaulted by the person who assaulted you.

Here is some general information about police procedures:

  • When you call or go to the police station, their first priorities will be to make sure that you are safe and to determine if you need any immediate medical attention. They might take you to the hospital right away for a medical exam, even if you have no apparent injuries. You are not required to seek medical care.
  • It is ok to bring someone with you to the police station, whether it’s a friend, family member, resident assistant, sexual assault advocate, etc.
  • They will ask you some preliminary questions to determine what immediate actions are necessary. Depending on the circumstances:
  • — They might dispatch officers to begin searching for a suspect.

    — They might issue a campus-wide alert to make the Purdue community aware of the assault and any potential ongoing threat. No information about you will be included in this alert, but parts of your description of the event and the assailant will be shared.
  • If you want them to, PUPD can contact the Office of the Dean of Students On-Call Team (OOT) so that a trained staff member from the ODOS can come support you. If you are working with city or county police, they can contact the OOT through PUPD.
  • When the police are interviewing you, it is important to remember that you are not “in trouble” or “on trial.” The officers want to know as much about the assault as possible to be effective, efficient and as helpful to you as they can.
  •  — You might not remember all of the exact details, and that is ok. It doesn’t make your account any less credible; lots of people have trouble remembering everything after a traumatic event. It’s acceptable to just tell the officers that you don’t remember or don’t know. If you remember details later, you have the option to tell them. If not, that’s ok, too.

     —Answering some of the questions might be uncomfortable, embarrassing or otherwise unpleasant, but it is important to give as much honest information as you can. If you have concerns about a particular question, you can ask the officer why they asked it and what purpose your answer will serve.

     — You have the right to request a female or male officer to take the report, but the officer’s ability to accommodate your request will depend on who is working or available to meet with you.
  • The police will provide you with as much protection as possible. They will work to protect your anonymity and will keep the details of your assault as confidential as they can.
  • After getting as much information as they can from talking with you, the police will then want to gather any evidence. If the assault happened recently, much of the evidence will come from your body and clothes and will be gathered during a medical exam. Depending on the circumstances, police might want to investigate the scene of the assault.
  • What happens at this point is up to you. If you want a full investigation done, police will do that. Then, if you want to file criminal charges, the report and information about the assault will be forwarded to the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office for review. The Prosecutor might want to conduct some follow-up interviews or additional investigation.

At the police station, it might seem like there is a lot going on around you and it could be overwhelming, but it is important to remember that everyone has your best interest in mind, and you actually have a lot of control over the situation. You are more than welcome to ask questions, take a break or stop the process and go home at any time. Although discussing the assault in detail might be uncomfortable, nobody is going to force you to do anything that you do not want to do.