Honoring Our Past.  Creating Hope for the Future.
Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.

For Survivors, Reporting Victimization is a Complex Decision

Author: San Luis Obispo District Attorney
Date: 4/22/2019 3:15:02 PM

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week * APRIL 7-13 * 2019

Every April is dedicated to Crime Victims’ Rights Month in San Luis Obispo County. This is a time to honor survivors and their loved ones, raise awareness of victims' rights and services, and stand with those whose lives have been forever altered.

Survivors face many barriers, resulting from both internal and external factors, when deciding whether to report their victimization. The National Crime Victimization Survey administered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that in 2017, only 45 percent of violent victimizations were reported to law enforcement. To understand this statistic, the context around barriers to reporting should be explored.

Some victims may not know the benefits of reporting a crime. They may think that their story feels insignificant, or they may wish to forget the incident and focus on recovery. Every victimization is significant, as it impacts the survivor and the larger community.

Reporting to law enforcement enables a survivor to apply for crime victim compensation, which is financial assistance that covers some expenses incurred after victimization. Survivors may also report a crime to open the possibility of achieving justice from their offenders, which can be a meaningful part of recovery.

However, the decision to report is not always easy to make. For some victims, the consequences of reporting may outweigh the benefits. They may be afraid that their offender will retaliate and commit another, more severe crime. In other cases, victims may be reliant on their offenders for financial support, caretaking, or other resources. Some victims may not have the necessary additional support if their offenders are jailed or if protection orders are issued. To protect their own safety and wellbeing, these victims may choose not to report their victimizations.

Reporting a personal victimization is a decision that requires consideration of numerous factors, which differ dramatically in each case of victimization. We should support victims no matter which path they choose and encourage them to recover in a way that keeps them safe and encourages resilience.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime, the Christopher G. Money Victim Witness Assistance Center is here to connect you with resources.

A ‘victim’ is defined under the California Constitution as, “a person who suffers direct or threatened physical, psychological, or financial harm as a result of the commission or attempted commission of a crime or delinquent act. The term ‘victim’ also includes the person’s spouse, parents, children,

siblings, or guardian, and includes a lawful representative of a crime victim who is deceased, a minor, or physically or psychologically incapacitated."

As a California crime victim, you have a right to:

  • Be informed about the criminal justice process;
  • Be notified and informed of pending felony pretrial/trial dispositions;
  • Be heard by the court at sentencing/disposition/parole eligibility hearings;
  • The return of property when it is no longer needed as evidence;
  • Be notified if your presence in court is not needed;
  • Be informed about available civil remedies, financial assistance, and social services;
  • Be compensated for your loss whenever possible;
  • Be provided with a secure waiting area during court proceedings; and
  • Have inconveniences associated with participation in the criminal justice process minimized.

    *Adapted from the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights.

The services provided by the Victim Witness Assistance Center include:

Crisis Intervention                                                                             

Emergency Assistance                                                                      

Resource and Referral Assistance                                                        

Victim Compensation Program Claim Assistance                             

Property Return                                                                                   

Orientation to the Criminal Justice System                                         

Court Escort and Support                                                                    

Case Status/Case Disposition                                                            

Notification of Family/Friends

Employer Notification/Intervention

Restitution Assistance

For more information visit: https://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Departments/District-Attorney/Victim-Witness-Assistance-Center/Services.aspx


The San Luis Obispo County Victim Witness Assistance Center works to reduce the trauma, frustration and inconvenience experienced by victims, witnesses, and family members affected by crime. We do this by providing a wide variety of services to victims of crime and their families, in addition to supporting victims and witnesses throughout the criminal justice process. As part of our mission, we inform victims of their constitutional and statutory rights under California law, and how to exercise those rights.

District Attorney's Office - Christopher G. Money Assistance Center

Courthouse Annex

1035 Palm Street, #384

San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

(805) 781-5821