The criminal justice system is not the only way for survivors of sexual assault to get their legal needs met. Because most victims never report to the police, most sexual assault victims are never involved in the criminal justice system. However, survivors may still have many legal needs that arise from being sexually assaulted.
Some issues that survivors may be concerned about, but do not necessarily think of as legal issues, are things such as:
- physical safety;
- concerns about work or school;
- questions about privacy rights;
- immigration status;
- and perhaps even filing a civil law suit against the perpetrator.
Survivors may have questions about how the criminal or civil justice systems work.
A victim may not feel safe for months or years after being assaulted. Careful safety planning is needed particularly if the victim has any on-going contact with the perpetrator.
Civil orders of protection are available for sexual assault victims. The sexual assault protection order is an order that a victim of sexual assault can petition the court for in order to ensure the perpetrator stays away and has no further contact with the victim.
- Sexual assault is often a profound threat to a victim's employment and job status. The victim may feel unsafe at work, their job performance may be affected by the trauma, or traumatic symptoms or the need to attend legal or medical appointments may increase absenteeism. There is a law that protects survivors, called the Domestic Violence Leave Act that supports survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.