Today I have successfully completed the Certification for Effective Report Writing: Using the Language of Non-Consensual Sex by the organization EVAWI, End Violence Against Women International.
In this course I learned the significance of the purpose of accurate reporting in sexual assault investigations and the clout it has on the survivor's case. Clearly, law enforcement professionals must conduct a thorough investigation and provide the prosecutor with the type of thorough, written report that is needed to support the charges filed. Accurate reporting provides the foundation upon which a prosecutor will build a case, and it becomes the official memory of the department for use in trials, appeals, and civil suits.
The written report prepared by the law enforcement investigator must therefore include a detailed summary of all of the evidence gathered during the course of a sexual assault investigation. Too many sexual assault cases are declined for prosecution or end up with a verdict of not guilty simply because the police report did not effectively summarize all of the evidence uncovered during the course of the investigation.
The key is for the investigators to preserve the exact words used by the survivor. The real words used by victims, suspects, and others are actually critical to truly reconstruct the sexual assault as experienced by the victim. They must therefore be preserved in the report written by the investigator.