What happens when you report sexual assault?  

Someone sexually assaulted me. Now what?

We know this is a very difficult time for you. It’s important for you to know that we are here to help.  

The decision to report to police is entirely yours. Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives.

Understanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared. If you choose to file a police report, call 902.490.5020 or 911.

Below is a high-level overview of what will happen in the majority of cases. You can also contact Victim Services directly at 902.490.5300 to discuss your options. 

Step one: Initial report taken by patrol officers and referral to Victim Services  

A patrol officer will respond and take a brief initial report. An automatic referral will be made to Victim Services, who will contact you to offer emotional support, provide general information about sexual assault investigations, and set up referrals to other agencies. 

The highly trained staff and volunteers can help you decide whether or not you want to proceed with an investigation. Contacting Victim Services doesn’t mean you have to take any further action. The choice is always yours.  

Step two: Your file is assigned  

In most cases, the file will be assigned to the Sexual Assault Investigative Unit (SAIT). A SAIT investigator will contact you for a formal, detailed interview that will be recorded on video. If you’re under the age of 16, police will partner with Child Protection Services for the interview and investigation.  

Step three: Investigation 

It’s the police’s job to conduct a thorough investigation. That may involve taking witness statements and collecting evidence, which could include: 

  • forensic analysis 
  • medical records 
  • phone records 

Halifax Regional Police and Victim Services will provide you with ongoing support throughout the entire process. Our goal is to identify, arrest, and prosecute the person(s) responsible. 

If at any point you no longer want to participate in the investigation, we will respect your wishes. You are in control

Step four: Suspect identification 

If a suspect is identified and there is sufficient evidence, the suspect will be interviewed. If a suspect isn’t identified, the case will proceed once further information about the suspect is received. 

Step five: Arrest and charges 

If there is sufficient evidence, charges will be laid.  

Sometimes, police decide not to lay a charge. This doesn’t mean that police don’t believe you or that the sexual assault didn’t happen. It may mean that there isn’t enough evidence to prove a criminal charge in court.