What if they don’t Believe me? : Reporting Sexual Assault

Woman feels shame after sexual abuse

The Government of Canada Justice Department reported that the majority of sexual assaults go unreported. It’s estimated that 83% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. In their survey, the justice department asked victim’s why they had not reported the sexual assault. Victims admitted that the reason they did not report the assault was that: 

  • They thought they would not be believed 
  • They felt ashamed or embarrassed 
  • They did not know they could report the abuse 
  • They had no family support  

Although our legal system has come a long way in handling sexual assault cases it is still far from perfect. Survivors still fear that they will not be taken seriously or not believed.  

Alberta woman who was sexually assaulted was discouraged by police from pursuing justice 

Recently a woman has come forward to share her frustrating and discouraging interaction with law enforcement and the judicial system concerning a sexual assault she experienced as a child. She is now an adult but around the age of 7 and 8 years old she says that her mother’s boyfriend at the time had sexually abused her. It wasn’t until after her mom left the boyfriend that she told her mom about what he did to her. Her mother reported the sexual abuse to the police but due to insufficient evidence, they were unable to press charges. Years later as an adult, the woman went back to the police to reopen the case. 

At first, she met with a traffic enforcement officer who shut her down and told her that she wouldn’t win her case. She and her mom filed a complaint against that officer and kept pushing to get justice. They got other officers involved and the boyfriend was charged with invitation to sexual touching, sexual interference, and sexual assault. 

The traffic enforcement officer who had discouraged the woman and her mother from pursuing charges was sanctioned for misconduct.  

Sexual assault is a very traumatizing experience. It can take years for victims to come forward about their abuse; the last thing they need is to have their experience invalidated. Police have a duty to properly and thoroughly investigate all claims. Police forces often have officers who specialize in sexual assault cases and who know how to communicate with victims and make them feel heard. It’s important not to revictimize survivors of sexual assault. The police force as first responders is an important step in the healing process of sexual assault survivors. If you feel like the police have failed you, we can help.  

Our lawyers at Equilibrium law have decades of experience dealing with sexual assault cases. We can help you hold all those involved in your abuse responsible for their wrongs. We can help you sue the perpetrator and all other persons who contributed or failed to stop the abuse. That includes schools, churches, employers, guardians, and even the police.  

Nova Scotia woman files lawsuit against police department and the RCMP for mishandling her sexual assault case 

A Halifax woman initiated a lawsuit against the RCMP and the Dartmouth police department. She alleges that they mishandled her sexual assault case. In, 2018, she reported to the Halifax regional police that she had been the victim of a serious sexual assault. She says that the police mishandled her sexual assault case as they failed to visit the scene where the alleged rape happened. Furthermore, the police didn’t handle her clothing and rape kit evidence properly and failed to send it for examination in a timely fashion.  

She filed a complaint with the Nova Scotia police complaint commissioner, regarding the improper handling of her case. However, she was told that her complaint wouldn’t be processed as she didn’t file the complaint within the six-month time limit. She brought her case to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to have the decision reviewed. There the judge ruled that the police complaint commissioner must process the complaint. Although it had been over six months since the police had mishandled the woman’s case the judge ruled that the six-month time limit commenced when the woman discovered that her case had been handled improperly. 

As of February 2022, this woman’s case is still ongoing. Criminal charges have been brought against both men involved in the assault and she is still awaiting the trial. Furthermore, the lawsuit against the RCMP and Dartmouth police is still ongoing. It’s been over 4 years since her assault and she continues to face many roadblocks.  

At Equilibrium law we encourage survivors to come forward. We believe you and we will fight for you. If you have been sexually assaulted or you feel that the police are mishandling your case contact us for a free consultation. We can help! For more information on pursuing a sexual assault case click here.



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