DENVER – With the recent news involving multitudes of women accusing Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and sexual assault, many others have begun sharing their own stories of unwanted sexual attention or violence in the workplace and elsewhere.
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience and reporting it is not always easy, but law enforcement agencies and medical professionals follow established policies that give you several options for reporting an assault while also giving you flexibility to decide for yourself how to proceed with your case.
In Colorado, adults between the ages of 18 and 69 have three options for reporting a sexual assault (medical professionals may be required to report assaults against minors or at-risk elderly patients).
1. Police report
One option is to report the assault to the local law enforcement agency where the assault happened. The agency will make sure you get a medical exam and will give you the option of a medical forensic exam. You'll also have the option of talking to a victim advocate. A law enforcement officer will then be in touch to follow up on your case.
2. Medical report
When making a report at a medical facility, you can do so without getting law enforcement involved right away. A trained nurse will give you an exam and collect any evidence related to the assault.
You can choose whether that evidence is tested, but if you opt not to, law enforcement will receive any evidence along with your contact information, which they will hold onto for at least two years if you decide to contact them at a later date.
3. Anonymous report
When making a medical report, you can choose to do so anonymously. In this case, law enforcement will still receive your evidence and will retain it for at least two years, but you will not be identified.
In either type of medical report, the patient is not responsible for the cost of a medical forensic exam, though there may be other costs associated with treatment. The state has a program to help cover some of these expenses.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office produced a video to help victims navigate this process. Watch the video below:
The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice has more detailed information on reporting a sexual assault here.