(Please read legal disclaimer at the bottom)
There are many options for reporting abuse depending who the perpetrator is or where the abuse took place. I suggest reporting any and all questionable behavior, boundary crossing, observed abuse, disclosed abuse, and suspicious behavior. You do not have to have evidence to report any abuse you suspect or experience yourself. Your only job is to report that you suspect abuse. The authorities will then do an investigation of their own and determine if a crime has been committed.
It is extremely important that you report abuse of any and all kind because there is rarely ever only one victim. Research shows that predators continue to abuse children until the day they die, with an average of 73 victims in their lifetime. By reporting you can literally save lives. In addition to that, without physical evidence, it is hard to get a conviction so other victims need other victims to report so that there is more than one person accusing the same predator. This is also why I suggest reporting to as many people as possible to create a paper trail.
Before reporting take time to write down what happened so it is fresh in your mind. Try to remember all details, clothing everyone was wearing, surroundings, lighting, timing, sounds, smells, words that were spoken, etc. Date it and keep a copy of it.
I suggest making the first report to the police. Call ahead and ask to speak to the detective in charge of sex crimes. If they do not connect you do some digging on their website and call that detective directly. Make an appointment for a time that is convenient for the victim. The victim has to make the report, the parents cannot do it for them. Sometimes, depending on the age, they may ask to speak to the minor alone. By law, the victim is allowed to have a victim advocate with them in the room. It is best if you can be prepared for this in advance. See our victim advocate services here.
Next, report to child welfare services, call into their hotline 800-344-6000 (state of CA) because those calls are recorded. Next talk to your therapist, they are mandated reporters and this will create another paper trail. (Note: if you aren’t currently seeing a therapist, it will be very helpful during this time). Report to those involved where abuse happened (school, church, youth-serving organization, friend or family members). When you report, request that a written report is taken and that you receive a copy. Do not let anyone tell you that they are mandated reporters and therefore you do not need to worry about reporting. Don't let anyone talk you out of reporting. Report to all of the above and follow-up weekly to ask what is being done.
The victim must be present for report to the police but does not have to be present to report to any other parties. It is best that the victim does not have to repeat what happened to them over and over to multiple people. After reporting to the police, they may request that the victim is interviewed by a Forensic Interview Specialist. It is very important that they get to speak to the victim before everyone else (except police).
Other Methods of Reporting:
If the abuse happened at school or involved students or teachers, report to the Title IX Coordinator at your school. Every school is required to have a designated TitleIX coordinator. To find the TitleIX coordinator at your school use this tool provided by the AAUW.
1-800-4-A-Child (800-422-4453) ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline
The Radar Project - Report sexual assault and domestic violence.
SART - Sexual Assault Response Team, look up this term for your city. For San Diego, click here.
911rape.org - Rape treatment center detailed steps on what to do if you or your loved one are raped
RAINN - Rape Abuse and Incest National Network - National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-4673 - website is a wealth of information for all states on prevention, what to do once sexual assault occurs, public policy, the laws for each state. For California Sex Crimes: Definitions and Penalties click here.