Law enforcement is responsible for taking reports of a sexual assault and conducting an investigation when a crime has occurred. This can involve collecting statements from the victim, witnesses, and suspects as well as collecting and analyzing evidence, including the evidence collected during a medical forensic exam. Law enforcement can also assist the victim with referrals or information on services that may be available in the community, such as the local rape crisis center.
While law enforcement must be neutral in collecting facts and evidence to determine whether a crime occurred, they should always practice trauma-informed response to avoid retraumatizing a victim who makes the decision to report. It is important to receive training on how the brain responds to trauma and the realistic dynamics of sexual assault to ensure that officers can communicate effectively with victims without victim blaming or supporting rape myths.