Decide if you want to report the assault to your school and/or the police.
This is not an either/or: you can report the assault to your school AND the police. A police report may launch a criminal investigation, whereas reporting to your school may launch a campus disciplinary investigation against the perpetrator.
Reporting to your school:
There are two reasons you may want to report your assault to your school. First, your school should be equipped to provide you with emotional and academic help and support (even if you do not identify the perpetrator). It should be noted that some schools have stronger victim advocacy and support procedures in place than others. Second, if you file a formal complaint against the perpetrator, your school must investigate what happened and can potentially hold your perpetrator accountable.
Under Title IX, your school is legally required to assist you in obtaining services and in protecting you from further harm. Examples of assistance are moving the perpetrator to a different dorm if you live in the same on-campus building or requiring the perpetrator to switch to a different class if you are in the same classes. Your school also can provide you with a host of academic accommodations, for example, securing extensions on assignments. If you decide to report the assault but not identify the perpetrator, you should still receive accommodations such as access to mental health services and academic support. For more information on your rights under Title IX and the Clery Act, see the legal section and Know your IX.
You also have a right to file a complaint against your perpetrator for violating your school’s sexual misconduct policy. Your school will then investigate your complaint and determine whether your perpetrator is responsible for violating its policy. If found responsible, your school can sanction the perpetrator. We recommend reviewing this helpful guide from Know Your IX about reporting to your school. Because every school is different, we also suggest looking at your school’s policy and campus adjudication process to learn more.
Reporting to the police: Some states may have laws where you can report to the police without having to prosecute—you may choose to do this if you feel anxious about a trial or feel that it may not turn out in your favor. With this kind of reporting, you can leave your contact information with the police in case someone else also reports an assault by the same perpetrator—if the police recognize a pattern of assault by the same perpetrator and feel that they have enough evidence to go to trial, they may then ask for your testimony. You may also want to report to the police so they can open a criminal case against your perpetrator. Talk to your local rape crisis center and the police about having an advocate guide and assist you through the criminal justice system process. See our legal section for more information about reporting to the police.