As an expert in the field of sexual abuse and trauma, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that these experiences can have on survivors. Whether the assault happened recently or years ago, it is important for survivors to prioritize self-care in order to cope with the short and long-term effects of trauma. However, when it comes to seeking justice through the legal system, there are many risks and challenges that survivors may face. One of the biggest risks is the possibility of the case not going to trial at all. This can happen if law enforcement or the prosecution team feels that they do not have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This can be due to a lack of physical evidence, difficulty identifying the perpetrator, or other factors. While this may be difficult for survivors to hear, it is important to remember that this does not diminish their experience or invalidate their trauma. According to statistics, out of every 1000 cases of rape, only 13 are referred to a prosecutor and only 7 lead to a felony conviction. However, regardless of the final outcome, reporting the assault can still increase the likelihood that the perpetrator will face consequences for their actions. If the police determine that there is sufficient evidence to move forward with criminal proceedings, the survivor may be called upon to testify as a witness in court. During the trial, it is important for survivors to have support and resources available to them.
In some areas, local sexual assault service providers can offer attorneys or other forms of support to help make the process less intimidating. It is also important for survivors to know that they cannot be asked about their past sexual history during the trial, including any previous sexual activities with the defendant. If the defendant pleads guilty to sexually assaulting the survivor, there may not be a need for the survivor to go to court. However, if the case does go to trial, the judge should inform the jury that if the survivor did not give consent for the sexual act, then it is considered sexual assault. This is an important reminder that consent must be freely given and cannot be assumed or implied. Preserving DNA evidence is crucial in investigating and prosecuting cases of sexual violence.
This evidence can be used to link a perpetrator to the crime and provide justice for survivors. In some cases, sexual offenses can be tried in a Trial Court without a jury, depending on COVID restrictions and other factors. However, for more serious crimes, such as rape, an internment hearing is usually held before the trial begins. If a survivor is involved in a civil lawsuit, it is important for them to discuss any questions or concerns with their lawyer. The process of taking a sexual assault case to court can be daunting and overwhelming, but it is important for survivors to know what to expect if they are called as witnesses.
In some cases, laws may be in place to protect survivors from being questioned about their previous sexual history. It is also important for survivors to take care of themselves during this process. Movies and TV shows that depict sexual assault, incest, and child sexual abuse can be triggering and difficult for survivors to watch. It is important for survivors to talk to a counselor or advocate at an external link from the Center on Sexual Assault or an attorney if they need help deciding whether or not to watch these types of media.