Whether you have suffered sexual violence recently or in the past, whether as a child or as an adult, you can report to the Gardai, and you can do so by contacting your local Garda station. You can request to meet with a female Garda if you would prefer that and you can ask for information about what would happen if you do report and ask as many questions as you need. Waterford now has a specialist Protective Services Unit so you may be referred to an officer there.
The Gardai will arrange to take a statement from you. In some cases, it may not be possible to do this immediately, so an appointment will be made.
A statement is a legal document and it is important to give as much information and detail as you can. You have the right to have someone accompany you for support while you make your statement, and to request a copy of your statement once completed.
The Gardai will then move ahead with their investigation, interviewing any potential witnesses and obtaining physical evidence such as CCTV. All evidence and statements will be compiled in a Garda file which is sent to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, who will decide whether or not to proceed with the case and, if so, what charges will be brought against the accused person. This whole process can take several months. If the DPP do decide to prosecute, the case will proceed to a criminal trial, where you will be a witness for the Prosecution. There may be preliminary court hearings before the trial, which you are entitled but not required to attend.
You have the right to be given the name, telephone number and station of the investigating Garda, and to be kept informed of the progress of the case.
If you have questions or want more information about the legal process, Rape Crisis Network Ireland have developed a detailed Guide to the Legal Process for Survivors of Sexual Violence which is available on their website www.rcni.ie or by contacting us in the Waterford Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.