Resources for survivors

Thank you for visiting the National PREA Resource Center (PRC). This section assists individuals who have experienced sexual abuse or sexual harassment while in confinement (“survivors”), and family members or loved ones of these individuals (“secondary survivors”), by providing information about sexual victimization in confinement as well as resources to assist survivors in the aftermath of sexual assault or sexual harassment. 

The PRC serves as the national resource center for direct and online support, training, technical assistance, and audit support to assist adult and juvenile corrections and detention, tribal detention, community confinement facilities, and law enforcement professionals in their work to eliminate sexual abuse and sexual harassment in confinement.

The PRC is unable to provide advocacy services, investigate reports of sexual abuse or sexual harassment, or provide legal advice or representation. 

If you feel that you or your family member is in danger, we strongly encourage you to contact agency officials or law enforcement immediately.


Frequently asked questions

Please note: FAQs include definitions of sexual abuse and sexual harassment that may be difficult for some users.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is forced or coerced sexual intercourse or sexual contact when the victim does not consent, is coerced, or is unable to consent or refuse. This may include the use of fear or threat of physical violence, psychological intimidation, bullying, and physical force. Sexual abuse also includes intentional touching either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or the buttocks of another person, excluding contact incidental to a physical altercation; it also includes penetration and incidents of penetration by a foreign object. 

 

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment involves repeated and unwelcome comments or gestures of a sexual nature, including demeaning references to gender, sexually suggestive or derogatory comments about a person's body or clothing, or obscene language or gestures. Sexual harassment also includes repeated and unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; or verbal comments, gestures, or actions of a derogatory or offensive sexual nature.

 

What is staff voyeurism?

Voyeurism by a staff member, contractor, or volunteer means an invasion of privacy of an inmate, detainee, or resident for reasons unrelated to official duties. This includes peering at an inmate who is using a toilet in his or her cell to perform bodily functions; requiring an inmate to expose his or her buttocks, genitals, or breasts; or taking images of all or part of an inmate’s naked body or of an inmate performing bodily functions.

 

How do I make a report of sexual abuse or harassment on behalf of a friend or family member who is incarcerated?

If you need to report an incident or concern that someone else has shared with you, you can take action as a “Third Party Reporter. The information below will assist you in making a third-party report. 

  • What does it mean to be a third-party reporter? 
    • A third-party reporter is someone who reports sexual abuse and sexual harassment - usually on behalf of the survivor - but who is neither the victim nor the abuser. “Third party” includes other inmates, members of staff, family members, lawyers, contract employees, service providers, or community or religious volunteers, and outside advocates. This person may have been told by the victim about the abuse or harassment, or witnessed it firsthand. 
  • How can a third party report sexual abuse or sexual harassment? 
    • There are several ways to report sexual abuse or sexual harassment as a third-party reporter. This means that you can submit a report by contacting the facility where the assault or harassment took place by calling, writing via email or postal mail, or by visiting the facility and speaking to officials in person. Most facilities will have a phone number, email form, or mailing address on their website that you can use to send a report. An agency must accept and review/consider all third-party reports received through the following:
      • A facility’s grievance system.
      • Verbal reports (made in person or via telephone).
      • Written communication such as a letter or email.
      • Contact with agency officials.
      • Via the agency’s designated outside reporting entity, such as a police department, inspector general’s office, etc.
    • This means that you can submit a report by contacting the facility where the assault or harassment took place by calling, writing via email or postal mail, or by visiting the facility and speaking to officials in person. Most facilities will have a phone number, email form, or mailing address on their website that you can use to send a report. 
    • It is also important to note that:
      • A third party can submit a report without disclosing their name or that of the alleged victim or abuser. 
      • A report may be submitted in a language other than English. 
      • A third party has the right to assist an inmate with completing and filing her or his own report of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. 
  • Third-party reports to an outside reporting entity
    • Third-party reporters have the right to make a report of sexual abuse or sexual harassment to an independent entity separate from the agency. Information on how to make a report of sexual abuse or sexual harassment on behalf of an inmate should be reasonably accessible to the public. In some cases, this information will be available on the agency’s website. If the website has a search function, try typing “PREA” into the search bar to find relevant information. 
    • Sometimes there is a third party external agency that you can contact by phone, mail, or electronic form on the website. Examples include:
      • Ombudsman
      • Inspector General’s Office 
      • Internal Affairs
      • PREA Reporting Hotline for Third Party Reporting
      • Victim Services Program

You can also send a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, or submit a report online.   

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation, Corrections
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Please Note: The Special Litigation Section has the authority, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997, to investigate complaints concerning conditions in state or locally operated institutions. When a “pattern or practice” or systematic deprivation of constitutional rights exists, they have the authority to initiate civil action against state or local officials to remedy the unlawful conditions. Please note, however, that the Special Litigation Section does not have the authority to assist individuals, and may only initiate civil action in the name of the United States against state and local officials. Therefore, they are unable to provide you with legal opinions or legal assistance or to advocate for someone’s release. They will, however, consider your letter carefully along with other information they may receive, to determine whether a pattern or practice investigation is warranted.

Finding help and resources

The PRC is unable to provide advocacy services, investigate reports of sexual abuse or sexual harassment, or provide legal advice or representation. 

The resources below can assist you or your loved one to find help after an incident of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. In addition to these resources, most communities have a local rape crisis center that can help support survivors of sexual violence. To find your local center, please visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

 

Just Detention International

Just Detention International (JDI) is a health and human rights organization that seeks to end sexual abuse in all forms of detention. If you or someone you know has been sexually abused in confinement, JDI can send out their Survivor Packet, which includes Hope for Healing, a self-help guide for survivors as they rebuild their lives after an assault. Learn how to request a packet.

JDI also provides a unique state-by-state directory of support services for survivors who are still incarcerated, those who have been released, and loved ones on the outside who are searching for ways to help.

JDI responds to every survivor who writes to them, but they do not provide legal representation or counseling services. People in detention may write to JDI via confidential “legal mail” at the following address:

Cynthia Totten, Esq.
CA Attorney Reg. #199266
3325 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 340
Los Angeles, CA 90010

 

RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline

27/7 Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

In addition to the 24/7 hotline, RAINN also provides the opportunity to chat online with a trained staff member who can provide confidential crisis support. Access the online chat

 

Victim Connect

Hotline: 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846)

Victim Connect provides confidential referrals for crime victims.

 

The Trevor Project

24/7 Hotline: 1-866-488-7386

The Trevor Project provides a 24/7 hotline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth who are in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgement-free place to talk. In addition to the hotline, the Trevor Project provides TrevorChat, a free, confidential, and secure instant messaging service.

 

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Help Center

2261 Market Street, PMB #296 San Francisco, CA 94114
Toll-free Hotline: (888) 843-4564
Hotline Hours: Monday-Friday, 2-10 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. PST
Website: www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org
Email: info@GLBTNationalHelpCenter.org

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline provides peer-counseling by telephone and email, as well as information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States. The hotline also maintains the largest resource database of its kind in the United States, with over 15,000 listings. All services are free and confidential.

 

The Project on Addressing Prison Rape

The Washington College of Law
4801 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
Office: (202) 274-4385
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. MST
Website: www.wcl.american.edu/impact/initiatives-programs/endsilence/
Email: endsilence@wcl.american.edu

The Project on Addressing Prison Rape is a grant-funded program at American University's Washington College of Law. The Project has contacts with advocacy groups and correctional agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, and will work to resolve survivors’ issues at the facility level whenever possible. The Project can also provide assistance to survivors’ family and friends.