A sexual assault often leaves the victim feeling frightened and uncertain about what to do next.
Concerns regarding legal and medical interventions are common, and the victim of a sexual assault has the right to be informed of all of her or his options. It is important for every victim of a sexual assault to know that she or he has the right to accept or refuse any intervention, whether medical or legal.
Options to consider:
If you are in immediate danger, call 911!
If you are the victim of a sexual assault, your safety is important. You can increase your personal safety by going to a populated location or seeking out someone to help you. You can also contact the police to report the assault.
When considering your physical safety, it is important to consider both your immediate security as well as your long-term health. Because a sexual assault exposes you to pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and physical injury, it is important to consider seeking medical attention.
Your emotional security is another high priority. You can increase your emotional safety by seeking the support and reassurance of a friend, family member, or Rape Crisis Counselor. You can access this service in Monroe County by dialing 546-2777 and in Genesee, Livingston, and Orleans Counties by dialing 1-800-527-1757.
The victim of a sexual assault has three options regarding police involvement:
- Reporting to the police
- Meet and talk with officer(s) about what happened
- Give a formal statement (i.e. a crime report)
- May lead to possible arrest and further legal actions, including trial
- Evidentiary exam as soon as possible (up to 96 hours)
- Proxy Reporting
- Anonymous report made through Rape Crisis Service
- Not a legal document - no arrest is made
- No police review
- Contact us regarding filling out a Proxy Report
- No report - Every victim has the right to choose to not report to the police.
Sexual assault, in any form, is a crime and you have the right to complete a police report. Whenever possible, police contact should be made as soon as possible. However, the decision to contact the police is yours to make. Trained Rape Crisis Counselors are available 24 hours a day to escort you to the police station at your request. These counselors are available to answer your questions, inform you of your rights and options, and provide moral support.
If there is any possibility that you are considering contacting the police, it is important to consider collecting and saving evidence as soon as possible. There are a number of things that you can do to ensure this:
- Do nothing to disturb your appearance:
Do not shower, douche, change your clothes, go to the bathroom, comb your hair, eat, smoke, drink, or take any drugs. If you have changed your clothes, take the clothes worn during the assault to the hospital or police department. Clothes should be put in paper bags.
- Go to the emergency room or the nearest SAFE Center as soon as possible:
The physician in the emergency room can provide an evidence collection exam. This exam is the primary source of evidence in many sexual assault cases, and is an important step toward ensuring the victim's physical health and safety.
Time is an important factor in obtaining evidence, and it is crucial that the evidence collection exam is completed within 96 hours of the attack.
Because the clothes the victim wore during or after the attack are commonly held for evidence, it is a good idea to bring a change of clothes to the emergency room. The Rape Crisis Counselor can accompany you, at your request, for all aspects of this exam to provide support or information.
If you suspect that you have been the victim of a drug facilitated sexual assault, preserve any available drinks, glasses, or containers.
Because a sexual assault exposes the victim to the risk of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and physical trauma, it is important to be examined by a doctor even if you do not wish to have evidence collected. Every victim of sexual assault has the right to receive medical attention without having to speak to the police about the assault. The following are some medical options available to victims of sexual assault:
- Treatment for possible exposure to sexually transmitted infections: doses of antibiotics to reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
- Emergency Contraception: Also known as the morning after pill. This medication reduces the risk of pregnancy by preventing or delaying ovulation. It must be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of the assault.
- HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis: This medication may reduce the risk of contracting HIV from a single exposure. HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis must be administered as soon as possible, within 36 hours, for best results.
Regardless of your decision about HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, it is important to note that the AIDS Institute suggests that you get tested for AIDS at 30 days and then 3 months after the assault to ensure accurate results.
- Treatment for Physical Injuries: A medical exam will ensure that all physical injuries are identified and treated.
- Evidence Collection: If you are considering reporting your sexual assault to the police, an evidence collection exam is an important step. This can be done only in emergency rooms or designated SAFE Centers. Evidence should be collected as soon as possible, or up to 96 hours (4 days) after the assault.
If you are unsure of reporting a sexual assault to the police, the evidence can be stored at the hospital or SAFE Center for up to 30 days while you consider your legal options.
After the exam is completed, the evidence is sealed and signed by the physician and released to the police or a security officer.
- Short-term Counseling: You may want to consider short-term counseling if you are struggling with feelings that result from a rape or past sexual abuse. Difficulties you may experience could be: Lack of concentration
- Increased irritability
- Lack of trust
- Panic attacks
Victims choose to reach out for help at different times during the recovery process. For some this may be right after a rape, for others it may be several years afterwards. Counseling can be the beginning of regaining control over your life.
Trained counselors are available to assist you to identify your needs, strengths and ways to cope with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Counseling is free and confidential.
E-mail us or call us at one of the numbers below to schedule an appointment or to discuss whether short-term counseling is right for you.