Whom should I contact about reporting a crime against a child?
Law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the crime took place is a good start. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a helpful resource as well.
Do all sex offenders have to register?
No! In some states, if an offender is found guilty of a crime that happened before the inception of that state's registry, he or she does not need to register upon his or her release. In Maryland, if an offenders sentenced for sex crimes that happened before 1996 do NOT need to register, regardless of when they are released from prison.
If a victim can't remember the crime or changes his or her story, does it mean that person is lying?
No! Memories of traumatic events are not stored the same way as memories of non-traumatic events. Trauma can even change the way non-traumatic memories are processed. There are many news and research articles, including this one, about the impact of trauma on memory.
How is it possible to report a crime so many years after it took place?
Many states do not have statutes of limitations for felonies.
Is it too late to report my crime?
It depends. Click here to find out what the rules are for where the crime occurred. The document is current as of August 2013.
I've heard the police don't listen to victims. Is it worth reporting what happened to me?
Every situation is unique, but my experience with law enforcement and the district attorney was largely very positive. With new research on the way trauma is processed and dissociative amnesia included as a mental health diagnosis in the DSM 5, many members of the law enforcement community are aware of and sensitive to issues facing victims of traumatic events.
Have you forgiven your perpetrator?
I do not carry much resentment and bitterness towards my perpetrator. I do not have enough emotional bandwidth for that many negative emotions. That said, my definition of forgiveness does not involve positive feelings about my perpetrator or any leniency when it comes to the terms of his sentence.
What if my perpetrator was a family member or an upstanding member of the community? What should I do then?
Facing sexual abuse and assault often disrupts almost all of a victim's familial and close interpersonal relationships. It is difficult to make such a decision and handle the fallout alone. Speaking to a mental health professional can make a logistically and emotionally overwhelming situation more manageable.