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“You Have Options” Program Launches

ASHLAND, Ore. – Women who are sexually assaulted have another resource on their side.

Ashland Police has worked with several women advocacy groups, trying to find out what’s holding back victims of sexual assault from reporting the incident.

Now, they’re providing an anonymous online reporting system to give women courage. There’s also a 24 hour crisis helpline, contacts for several advocacy groups and a Q & A section.

For about three years, the department has changed how they approach sexual assault investigations. Officers now help the victim get through the trauma first and eventually move on to help gather evidence for the prosecution. Ever since the department changed its approach, they’ve had a 60% increase of reports.

“Sexual assault is the ultimate loss of control. You don’t have any control over what happens, however it happens,” explained Ashland Police Chief, Terry Holderness. “Traditionally, in the law enforcement investigation and prosecution process, you’re in a similar situation; you don’t have control, you work at our pace, doing what we require you to do and go through the process. We’re trying to give more of that control back to the victim.”

There have been other agencies that have had website similar to this, but the Ashland Police’s website is the first of its kind in this form of online sexual assault reporting. Ashland Police say the Department of Justice is looking at this website seeing if reports will increase through it and how many prosecutions result from it. For the website, click here.