Legal Options for Survivors of Sexual Assault
Portland Area Legal Assistance
Police Emergency Number: 911
Police Non-Emergency Number: (503) 230-2121
DA Office’s Rape Victim Advocate (RVA) Line: (503) 248-3222
Police Sexual Assault Detail Department: (503) 823-0434
Domestic Violence Reduction Line: (503) 823-0992
If an assault has recently occurred it is suggested that the survivor call either 911 to speak directly to the police or the Rape Victim Advocate Line, (503) 248-3222, to speak to an individual advocate who will work with the survivor to provide legal options and support on an individual basis. Advocates work out of the DA’s office, not the police department.
Legal Process for Sexual Assault/Rape Survivors
If the assault occurred within 72 hours:
- Call 911 or the non-emergency police number (not the sexual assault line).
- A uniform officer is assigned to come out to the survivor and take the report.
- The officer gives the survivor the option of going to the hospital with them.
- If the survivor wants a detective, the officer contacts one for them.
- The survivor tells her story for the second time to the detective at the hospital.
- A Rape Victim Advocate (RVA) comes with the detective to the hospital. The survivor can choose not to have an advocate.
- The survivor is given the option of a rape exam.
- The Advocate gives them their legal options and explains the legal process.
If the assault occurred more than 72 hours prior:
- The officer comes out to the survivor and makes a report. The report is then forwarded to the Sexual Assault Department of the Police Bureau, and the survivor is assigned an advocate.
- If the case is assigned (taken on) a detective will talk with the survivor and explain legal options. A case will usually only be assigned if there is evidence and followup available.
- If the case is not assigned it remains on file.
Many survivors file reports but do not choose to followup with prosecution. If they do not follow-up immediately but later choose to, they may, though the longer they wait the harder it is to prosecute the case.
Restraining Orders and Stalking Orders
Restraining Orders work only in cases of "domestic violence" which is defined as "a relationship that is sexual." An example would be a live-in boyfriend or husband. To receive a restraining order the domestic violence had to occur within the last two years and violence or a threat of violence had to take place within the last six months.
Stalking is defined as "two or more unwanted contacts in the last six months."
Obtaining a Restraining Order and Options to Prosecute:
- The survivor calls 911
- The officer comes out, asks them for their story and takes a report.
- The following day (a large time elapse) an officer in the Domestic Violence Reduction Department of the Police (DV Officer) receives the report.
- The DV makes a follow-up call to the survivor, finding out what they want to do and giving them their legal options which include:
- being assigned an advocate
- restricting orders
- stalking orders
- options to prosecute
- If the survivor wants to prosecute:
- The DV Officer calls the DA’s office.
- The DA orders a copy of the DV Officer’s report.
- The DA makes a phone appointment with the survivor and gets more details (they may have to tell their story again).
- The DA’s office assigns an advocate.
- The advocate and the DA work together to try to prosecute the alleged perpetrator.
- If the DA needs more details still, the file goes back to the DV officer.Steps 4 and 5 are repeated.
Obtaining a Stalking Order Only
- The survivor works directly with the Domestic Violence Reduction Department Officers (DV officers).
- D.V. officers help them to fill out the paperwork and notarize reports. DV officers can stand in court for a woman if need be in order to obtain a stalking order.
- The stalking order is put on file.
- There is no cost.
General Facts About the Legal Process
- A survivor may call an advocate before calling the police.
- The survivor may choose to have a woman uniform police officer (if one is available)
- The majority of the survivors tell their stories twice if the assault happened within 72 hours prior (once to the uniform officer, once to the detective).
- Choosing to go to the police does not mean that action needs to be taken.
- If the survivor chooses not to take action, the police will not call the alleged perpetrator.
- All reports are confidential. Confidentiality is maintained within the police office, the DA’s office, and the advocate’s office.
- The confidential report is taken to three different departments within the police department:
- Rape Victim’s Advocate office
- Sexual Assault Division office
- Detective Division
- Pressing charges is always a choice. The success of prosecuting an alleged perpetrator depends on several factors including:
- if the survivor knows their perpetrator
- probable cause
Note: Copies of pertinent Oregon Statutes are found in ORS 163.305–163.525 and may be obtained from the Campus Safety Office.