If you are an incest survivor who is thinking about or in the process of reporting abuse and navigating the legal system, you probably have many questions and need lots of help. A good support network and access to reputable resources and information is key to success with the process. Here are some links that may be helpful to you.
Reporting and the criminal justice system for adults and youth: RAINN has a comprehensive resource on Reporting and the Criminal Justice System that covers a host of topics such as reporting to and communicating with law enforcement, what to expect from the criminal justice system, and sexual assault forensic exams. SAYSN is a good starting point for youth considering making a report.
Victims rights and services: The Victims Rights Law Center provides free legal assistance to sexual assault survivors who have legal needs as a result of the assault in the following areas: privacy, safety, education (K-12 and college), employment, immigration, housing, LGBTQ-specific issues, criminal justice advocacy, and financial stability. Their legal services are available to sexual assault survivors of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The Office for Victims of Crime’s website points visitors to state-specific sources of support for victims.
If you are an advocate or attorney seeking to learn more about victims rights from a professional’s standpoint, this manual written by the Victim Rights Law Center is chock full of guidance.
Statutes of limitation and filing a civil lawsuit: Otherwise known as SOLs, statutes of limitation set a deadline for pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit for sexual assault. CHILD USA’s Survivor Tool Kits helps survivors understand their rights in this area. They have a comprehensive guide for understanding SOLs, as well as information on state-by-state laws and reform measures that are underway. Although specific to New York residents, Safe Horizon’s guide for picking an attorney to represent a survivor lays out good questions to ask potential attorneys practicing in any state when considering a civil lawsuit.
Transition to advocacy: If you are an incest survivor who wants to become involved in advocacy on this issue, the Sexual Assault Advocacy Network (SAAN) is an excellent source of support, mentoring, cross-training, learning, and community. SAAN was created to grow and support the sexual assault prevention community. They provide specialized services to seasoned advocates and help those new to this community to become stronger, well connected, more effective leaders. Their Facebook group of over 1,500 survivor-advocates and allies is a safe and welcoming space for those at all points of the advocacy spectrum.
“Remember it was done to you, not by you.”
- Gordon Green