After the Assault


In the spring of 2019, a Sacramento-area woman emailed CapRadio about her experience reporting a rape to local law enforcement. She wrote: “Their response was egregious and I know my experience is not an outlier.” We realized the need to report on the experience of survivors when they attempt to seek justice after a sexual assault.

That summer, we held two listening sessions. In the first session, local law enforcement, healthcare practitioners, crisis support providers, and advocates laid out the legal reporting process, identified challenges, and brainstormed solutions. In the second session, we brought together eight survivors who spoke about the mental health impacts of sexual assault and the challenging process of seeking justice. The survivor group decided to collaborate with CapRadio on a reporting project.

We involved the survivor cohort in every step of the editorial process. We interviewed survivors, as well as law enforcement, criminal justice scholars, trauma researchers, and sexual assault victim advocates. We also engaged Sacramento’s Sexual Assault Response Team – detectives, sergeants, district attorneys, crime lab staff, healthcare providers, and rape crisis center advocates – in the editorial process. We facilitated a series of convenings with this team to discuss what was working in the legal reporting process, as well as challenges and areas for improvement. Additionally, we engaged regional advocacy groups to help ensure project content would be widely relevant and useful.

In the summer of 2021, we launched “After the Assault”, including:
– Six radio features for local programs “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition”;
– Nine “Insight” talk show segments;
– An hour-long “Insight” special;
– Three web stories;
– A seven-part podcast;
– An eight-part Instagram series featuring survivor quotes;
– A “CapReads” podcast episode;
– A “California State of Mind” podcast episode;
– The digital “Guide to Reporting Sexual Assault in Sacamento County” including a glossary of terms and list of Sacramento-area support organizations to help survivors navigate the legal system;
– A nine-part Instagram series highlighting key information from the guide; and
– The audio-based tool “Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault: A Conversation Kit” featuring audio clips from survivors and other experts that advocacy groups and law enforcement can use to generate dialogue in presentations, training, and counseling sessions.