68% of sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement, making it one of the most under reported violent crimes in the United States.1 While Our VOICE strongly believes that the choice to report to law enforcement is the survivor’s and the survivor’s alone, some victims who are hesitant to report to law enforcement may not be aware that another reporting option exists.
Here in Buncombe County, survivors have the option to file what is called a “blind report”. A blind report is an anonymous report, where a victim can chose to not include any identifying information in the report. They can, however, include details of the assailant and details of the crime. This report does not initiate a formal investigation and the suspect will not be questioned or contacted. Law enforcement uses the report as purely informational means.
Blind reporting can be of great value to survivors of sexual assault. A survivor may not be ready to commit to a full investigation and formal police report. A blind report provides a way for a survivor to document important details should they choose to file a formal report later on. The process of reporting to law enforcement may also empower survivors by allowing them to regain a sense of control and personal autonomy. Victims who are initially hesitant to file a formal report at the time of the assault may change their minds when given the option of supporting or being supported by other victims of the same assailant. The testimony of a prior victim can help with the prosecution of another victim’s case by aiding the district attorney in illustrating a pattern of behavior of the perpetrator.2
Providing a blind report option benefits not only the survivor, but law enforcement and the community as a whole as well. Information given in the blind report can be used to track perpetrator’s MOs, suspect descriptions, and victim demographics. Law enforcement can take note if a similar crimes have been reported against the same person. Blind reporting benefits the community as we can capture a more accurate and comprehensive picture of how many sexual assaults are being committed.
It is important to note that not all law enforcement agencies have an anonymous reporting option. Our VOICE can help you figure out if a particular law enforcement agency outside of Buncombe County allows victims to file blind reports. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a blind report, please contact Our VOICE for more information.
–Stefanie is the Court Advocate at Our VOICE. For more information on court advocacy services, click here.
1. Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2008-2012
2. Garcia, S. & Henderson, M. Blind Reporting of Sexual Violence. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume:68 Issue:6 Dated:June 1999.