LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - One in three women who were sexually assaulted in Jefferson County last year chose not to tell police, leaving dozens of criminals on Louisville streets with no threat of facing prison. As with so many things surrounding rape, this is not so black and white.
In 2012, 373 times Melissa Edlin, coordinator of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners at UofL Hospital, and those who work with her were called to do sexual assault exams in Jefferson County. Though technology has moved forward, in some ways, Edlin says attitudes have not.
"I think there's still a stigma with sexual assault and for some people, they're not willing to go forward with law enforcement because of that," Edlin said.
Now more than ever that's their right. In 2009, Congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, emphasizing that women don't have to report their rape to police just to get treatment.
"I think there was a misconception that patients had to report when they came into an emergency room because it was a crime," Edlin said.
But with no police report, Lieutenant Carolyn Nunn of the Louisville Metro Police Department Special Victims Unit points out there's no arrest, no trial and no time behind bars.
"We have an offender that's still on the street and from a law enforcement perspective, that empowers your offender to keep doing what they're doing," Nunn said.
Nunn can understand why a sexual assault victim may not want to come forward.
"Once you get into the justice system, it's all public," Nunn said. "It's all public record. You have to face your offender again."
As a police officer, Nunn would like to have the chance to make an arrest, to put the "bad guy" behind bars.
"The most important thing is that you're not going to be alone," said Nunn. "You're not going to be alone and we're going to be with you every step of the way ... We're there for your investigation, we're there for your court proceedings, we're there for the long haul ... Even if you don't report it to us, make sure you're telling someone."
A survivor who saw her rapist convicted 20 years after her assault said although she never regretted filing a police report, there were times she wished they'd never caught her rapist after so much time. However, she said once she got to trial, she felt empowered because she was in control instead of him.
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