If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
If you have
been sexually assaulted, you may feel alone and confused. You can get support, assistance, and
information from a local sexual assault program. The sexual assault program responds
immediately through its 24-hour hotline and 24-hour response to hospital
emergency rooms and police stations. The
program also provides ongoing advocacy and support services. Services are free and can help you to clarify
information and explore the feelings that may surface after sexual
assault. If you choose to report the
sexual assault, you donít need to go through any of the procedures alone. A friend, relative, or sexual assault
advocate can accompany you and give you support.
If, at any
point during the medical or law enforcement procedures, you donít understand
what is happening--just ask. The nurse,
doctor, officer, district attorney, and sexual assault advocate are available
to explain things to you.
that rape and sexual assault are serious, violent crimes. They are crimes that could happen to
anyone. No matter the circumstances, the
assault was not your fault.
To Report or To Not Report
sexual assault to law enforcement is a very individualized decision that
victims will need to make for themselves.
Remember, if you decide not to report, you are still fully entitled to
support services and medical care. If
you do decide to report, you will need to know what to expect from the
different systems you may encounter.
Below is a brief overview of what to expect. Your local sexual assault program advocate
will be able to more fully help you understand the process in your area and to
support you through it.
from your local sexual assault program can be accessed whether or not you
choose to report. Advocates can be an
invaluable help to you during the process of reporting. Advocates are trained to be with you at the
hospital, go with you to the police station, provide individual and group
counseling, and provide you with specific information about sexual
assault. Whether you decide to report,
getting in touch with your local sexual assault program can be a very important
and helpful step in your healing.
A sexual assault
evidence kit, sometimes called a ďrape kit,Ē is performed by medical personnel
to collect evidence. This exam can be
performed whether or not your friend decides to report the sexual assault to
law enforcement. Although medical
personnel who collect the evidence are well-trained, the process may be
uncomfortable for you. Support is
important. The cost of collection of the
evidence will be assessed to the county. However, there may be other costs
incurred at the hospital for medical treatment that are not considered part of
the evidence kit. If you have reported
the assault to law enforcement, you may be eligible for Crime Victimsí
Compensation benefits that can help you pay for financial losses such as medical
expenses, lost wages, counseling/therapy, and other costs related to the
shower. Valuable evidence of the assault
remains on your body and clothes. Do not
change clothes, eat, drink, smoke, comb your hair, shower, urinate, defecate,
or douche before going to the emergency room.
However, if you have already done these things, donít let this stop you
from seeking medical care. Take a change
of clothes with you to the emergency room, and if you have already changed your
clothes you were wearing during the assault, place them in a paper bag and take
them to the hospital with you.
believe you were given a drug, wait to urinate until you arrive at the
hospital. However, if you canít wait,
collect your first urine in a clean container with a lid and take it to the
emergency room or police station. Also,
be sure to tell the emergency room personnel your symptoms and that you believe
you were given a drug so they can take the necessary samples.
Law Enforcement Response
enforcement will need to ask you questions about the assault. Some questions may be very difficult to
answer and may not make sense at the time they are asked, but there is a reason
for them. It is not unusual for law
enforcement to visit with the victim numerous times during the course of an
investigation. Once law enforcement has
investigated and has been able to identify the offender, they will send the
information to the persecutor.
prosecutor determines if there is enough evidence to move forward with
prosecution. The system sometimes works
slowly. It sometimes seems that just as
you feel OK, you are thrown back into the middle of the trauma because of a
court hearing or trial. Sometimes
victims find it very important to have information about the court case and
proceedings. Most prosecutors have
Victim Witness Coordinators who can help get this information. Victims have a
legal right to certain information about the case.
REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
assault is a crisis, and we all handle crisis in different ways. Some women go into shock after being sexually
assaulted, or experience overwhelming fear, anger, shame, or anxiety. The emotional reaction to sexual assault is
complex and often confusing. Remember
that your feelings and experiences are not unusual. You are not alone. The fear and confusion will lessen with time,
but the trauma may disrupt your life for a while.
contact the following:
and domestic violence program nearest you can be found here.
This information was obtained from the Kansas Coalition
Against Sexual and Domestic Violence (KCSDV) brochure titled How
To Support A Victim Of Sexual Assault.