Deciding whether to report a sexual assault
Making the decision about whether to officially report a sexual assault can feel frightening and overwhelming. It can be helpful to discuss the options with someone who can help you determine what is best for you. People such as a Klinic worker or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner can be neutral, non-judgemental and also have the most up to date information to help you make a decision.
In many cases the decision to report is the victim’s choice. There are two situations where there is less choice about reporting:
- When the survivor is under the age of 18 the sexual assault must be reported to child welfare authorities.
- If the survivor was sexually assaulted by a spouse or intimate partner (past or present), Domestic Violence policy in Manitoba requires police and RCMP to investigate. While helping professionals such as counsellors or Nurse Examiners do not have a duty to report an adult survivor in this situation, if police became aware, they will have to investigate.
Meeting with the police/RCMP
If you chose to talk with the police they could help with the following:
- Gathering evidence
- Answering questions about the police investigation and criminal justice processes
- Linking you to other resources, including Compensation for Victims of Crime
- Taking a formal statement if you choose to provide one
If you are hoping for an investigation of the sexual assault that occurred they to preserve any evidence you can. For example, avoid washing, bathing, douching, brushing your teeth, smoking cigarettes or chewing gum. Try not to alter the area where the assault occurred or launder/destroy your clothing. Save any texts, emails, social media posts, photographs or voice messages that might be relevant to an investigation. Even if you have done any of the above, it may still be possible for police to collect evidence. You may wish to call the police and discuss your situation.
It does not matter when the sexual assault occurred, you always have the right to provide information to the police.
For more information visit the Winnipeg Police Service’s Sex Crimes Unit webpage.
Making a Third Party Report
Making a third party report does not result in a police investigation, instead, the police receive the information you are willing to provide and store it in a special database. Third party reporting is a process where a survivor is able to pass on information about the sexual assault they experienced to the police without having to speak directly to the police or make a formal report. Instead, the survivor talks with someone from the Sexual Assault Crisis Program at Klinic, or another community-based agency that takes third party reports.
- You can provide information about a crime to the police while maintaining your anonymity
- There is official documentation about the sexual assault
- The information is stored in a such a way that patterns or themes from repeated offenders may become apparent
- It can help a survivor to feel that they are taking some sort of action even though they are staying at arms length from the police system
- You maintain your right to formally involve the police in the future
Please note that absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed when the offender is an intimate partner, or when there is a duty to report on child abuse matters. If you have any questions about these limitations to confidentiality, please call us for more clarification.
For more information on third party reporting please contact our 24/7 Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 204-786-8631 or toll free at 1-888-292-7565.
Mount Carmel Clinic
Ka Ni Kanichihk
Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre
John Howard Society Brandon
Brandon Women’s Resource Centre
Winnipeg Police Service – Sex Crimes, Child Abuse, Victims Services
Winnipeg Police Service – Victim Services
Provincial Victim Services
You Have Options: Help After A Sexual Assault