Reporting an Incident

The Callisto Survivor’s Guide was written by fellow survivors to remind you that you are surrounded by a community of caring individuals, and that there are many resources available to help you on your journey. The excerpt below, “Reporting an Incident,” is for those who identify as survivors of sexual assault, rape, or sexual coercion. If you are an ally, please share this information with your friend or loved one.

Know Your Rights and Your Constraints

As a survivor of rape or sexual assault, you have certain rights under the laws of your state. Check with a local justice center or your local bar association to get information on their legal aid support to better understand your local rights.

Document Your Experience

If you do not feel it is the right time to go to law enforcement, you may choose instead to capture sensitive and private details of the event in other ways, such as writing, video, and photos. Keep your documentation in a very safe place so that you are in control of when and how these details are shared and so that you can continue to own your story.

  • Capture what happened in writing, with details about the incident as well as what happened before and after. Include dates, exact location, names of other people present, and who you talked to. Include the date of when you created these notes.
  • Take photographs. If your perpetrator left physical marks on your body — bruises, strangulation marks, bite marks, etc. — take photos.
  • Share your notes and other documentation with a person of trust, such as a therapist or attorney, or put them into a vault under the care of a third party. They will be used if and when you are ready to come forward.

Report As Soon As Possible (If You Are Ready)

If the assault just happened and you are ready to report, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Medical professionals will be able to do a full medical examination to check for any physical harm. They will also be able to conduct a forensic exam (also known as a rape kit). The exam will allow samples of the perpetrator’s DNA (hair, semen, blood) to be saved. These samples can be used as evidence if you decide to press charges.

Prepare for an Interview with Law Enforcement

Preparing for the Interview

  • If you know other survivors, ask them if they would be willing to share their experience in how best to prepare. Each individual situation is different, and you know your own case best. But it can be helpful to learn from survivors who have already gone through the reporting process — even if it is only for words of encouragement.
  • It’s okay to ask for help. No one should have to go through this alone. There are survivors and allies all around you. Confide in someone you trust, ask them to accompany you to the police station, and know that you are not alone.
  • Bring a bottle of water or a snack. A big bottle of water or some food will not only quench your thirst and give you energy, but will also give you something to hold in your hands.
  • Ask to take a break at any time that you need one.
  • It is okay to say the words “I don’t recall” if you can not remember something.
  • Investigators usually have a list of questions that they ask everyone, and some may not be relevant to your situation.
  • If you can, take the day off to take care of yourself.

After Reporting

Have a Plan

More Resources

BetterBrave: State Statues of Limitations
National Women’s Law Center
RAINN: Reporting to Law Enforcement
RAINN: State Statute of Limitations for Assault
RISE: Sexual Assault/Abuse Survivors
The National Center for Victims of Crime

Callisto is a non-profit organization that develops technology to combat sexual assault and sexual coercion.