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Message From the DirectorAbout This GuideResources
Publication Date: April 2009
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Ensure that victims are fully informed of their rights; the options, benefits, and resources available to them; and the possible risks involved. After discussing their options, many sexual assault victims decide to seek assistance, including health care and legal remedies, and willingly provide information about the assault. An advocate can support victims in these decisions by providing information, referrals, accompaniment, advocacy, and other services.

The greater challenge typically exists when victims do not wish to disclose details of an assault. As always, an advocate should ensure that victims are aware of the available options and the potential benefits and risks of those options so that they can make well-informed choices that are in their own best interest. For example, an advocate should ensure that victims understand how the criminal justice system works and how a delay in reporting the crime can have a negative impact on other evidence collection and the ability to prosecute the crime later.

Nevertheless, in this tell-all society, victims typically face strong encouragement, expectations, and pressure to share confidential information. The tips that follow take this into consideration and are intended to support victim service centers' and advocates' work with all victims (regardless of the victims' decisions about reporting the crime). Furthermore, in discussing the options with victims, advocates should present the options as considerations rather than directives.

Decrease the Spread of Information
Create Less Information
Know What Information Is Kept and Used
Inform Victims of Court Protections

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