Healthy Lifestyle

Anonymous Reporting: The Option That Gives Power Back to Sexual Assault Survivors

Published: April 8, 2021

When it comes to sexual assault, a timely investigation is the best investigation. But at Methodist, we recognize that every survivor processes trauma differently. Survivors often need time to determine whether they want an investigation and how much information – if any – they want to disclose to law enforcement.

That’s where anonymous reporting comes in – an option many survivors don’t know about.

Reporting Options

Here’s what sexual assault survivors need to know about receiving care: If you’re the victim of a physical injury – or injuries – because of a crime, we, as health care professionals, are required to report that to law enforcement.

That said, we understand that not all sexual assault survivors want us to. We understand that this requirement may actually prevent some survivors from seeking medical care. While we’re mandated to report a crime, you have the freedom to tell law enforcement as much or as little information as you want. And in Nebraska and Iowa, as long as there wasn’t a deadly weapon used or serious bodily injury – and you’re 18 or older – you have options of reporting to law enforcement.

Those options, which we explain to all survivors seeking our care, are:

  • Standard reporting. This option requires your consent in having us collect evidence and contact law enforcement. You can then proceed with a standard investigation.
  • Partial reporting. This is available to those who may be unsure about an investigation but interested in having evidence collected. As long as you’re willing to disclose your name and contact information, your sexual assault kit – which we use to collect evidence – is sealed and sent to law enforcement. Law enforcement then sends the kit to the state laboratory for processing. Once they get results back, they’ll contact you to see how you’re feeling and whether you want them to proceed with an investigation.
  • Anonymous reporting. This allows us to collect evidence anonymously. Each sexual assault kit – which, again, is used to collect evidence – is labeled with a number. Your kit’s number becomes your identification. Once evidence is collected, your sealed kit is given to the jurisdiction in which you received care and stored for up to 20 years. This allows you time to decide if and how you want to proceed. This option also preserves your identity.

No matter which option you choose, we’ll always address your medical needs, which may include pregnancy prevention and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. We'll also coordinate your follow-up care and provide resources that may be helpful moving forward. All of this, of course, is dependent on your consent. You choose what takes place when you come to us for help.

The Benefit of Anonymous Reporting

Anonymous reporting is a very trauma-informed approach to care – something we wholeheartedly stand by and believe in. We understand that it’s nearly impossible to make good, informed decisions when you’ve been traumatized and don’t feel your best. This option is about giving you back the power and control that’s been taken from you.

By choosing to stay anonymous, you can rest assured that you’ll receive the medical care you need, quality evidence collection and compassionate follow-up care without ever having to involve law enforcement.

Don’t let the fear of having to disclose anything prevent you from experiencing the difference our certified team of experts can make. We’re here for you. We support you. And we’re ready to walk with you on this journey toward healing.

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About the Author

Jen Tran, RN, SANE, Methodist SANE/SART Program coordinator, says she is inspired every day by the passion and tirelessness of her fellow Methodist SANE nurses. She is also inspired by the community and the way everyone pulls together to try to put an end to sexual assault and domestic violence. 

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