Our VOICE launches online ‘blind reporting’ option for victims of rape and sexual assault

From Our VOICE:

February 24, 2016, Asheville, NC- Our VOICE, Buncombe County’s incorporated rape crisis and prevention center, is proud to announce the provision of an on-line blind reporting option for victims of sexual assault and rape.

According to a National Crime Victimization Survey conducted by the Justice Department, 68% of sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement. Blind reports are anonymous in nature, and increase the number of initial reports that may develop into formal investigations.

There are many benefits to blind reporting mechanisms, for victims, law enforcement, and the community as a whole. The blind reporting mechanism can build trust between officers and victims, who may later decide to proceed with a full investigation. “Sometimes victims aren’t ready to file a formal report. A blind report allows victims to capture the details of the assault, which may be used at a later date if the victim chooses to pursue legal remedies to the victimization,” says Stefanie Gonzales, Court Advocate for Our VOICE. From the law enforcement perspective, a confluence of blind reports may yield in a picture of the behavioral patterns of repeat offenders. According to Sgt. Joe Silberman of the Asheville Police Department, “Blind reporting…provides valuable information in a timely fashion which may guarantee the preservation of evidence or lead to the identity or habits of an offender.” Blind reports also add to the aggregate information about sexual violence, so that the public in general may get a better sense of the incidence of rape in our community.

Not all law enforcement agencies offer a blind reporting mechanism. In Buncombe County, both the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sherriff’s Department offer blind reports as an option to victims of sexual assault and rape.

This is the first instance in the State of North Carolina that a sexual assault agency has offered blind reporting through its website. Victims of sexual assault and rape will be able to complete the form online, and then it will be sent securely from Our VOICE to the appropriate law enforcement office. “Survivors of sexual violence may be more likely to disclose information about their assailants and the incident if Our VOICE can serve as an intermediary between them and law enforcement,” says Angelica Wind, Our VOICE’s Executive Director. “We believe that offering this service will benefit our clients- and that it will give us a better picture of the rate of sexual violence in Buncombe County.”

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton@gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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