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You do not have to go through the trauma of sexual violence alone.

To protect our clients, staff, and our community during this public health crisis, we are moving to a virtual support and advocacy model. We will be communicating with clients and community partners over the phone and video chat and will continue to provide services to as many people as possible. Advocates are always available through our 24-hour hotlines. 

Hotlines by County

You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, call one of our hotlines today.

Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington

Schenectady and Schoharie

Short-term counseling is available for both victims and their loved ones. All counseling is free and confidential.

  • Crisis intervention
  • Information on victims’ legal rights and protections
  • Help with the criminal justice process
  • Emotional support
  • Help with safety planning
  • Help preparing victim impact statements for courts and parole boards
  • Intervention with creditors, landlords, and employers on behalf of the victim
  • Help finding shelter and transportation
  • Referrals to other services
  • Assistance with compensation applications
  • Information on sexual assault prevention
  • Support Groups
What should I do if it happens to me?

Get to a safe place. If you are in immediate danger, do anything you can to get away.

Preserve evidence. It may be very difficult for you not to bathe, shower, brush your teeth or go to the bathroom, but your body contains crucial evidence of the attack and the attacker.

Seek medical attention. You need to be:

  • checked for injuries, both external and internal
  • tested for and offered treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV
  • offered emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy

Contact us and request that a counselor/advocate meet you at the hospital. The counselor/advocate will be able to answer many of the questions you may have, inform you of the choices you have in deciding on medical treatment, and wait with you while at the hospital to ensure that you receive the best medical treatment possible after an assault.

Decide whether to press charges. The Rape Crisis counselor will provide you with information you will need to navigate the legal process if you decide to make a police report.

There are two situations when law enforcement must be involved in a sexual violence case:

When a weapon was used

When a child was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of their parent or guardian

If neither situation exists, then the decision whether to make a report and press charges is up to the victim.

NYS Office of Victim Services (OVS) provides reimbursement for eligible expenses you may have as a result of this crime. A Rape Crisis counselor will assist you in completing the application for this reimbursement.

Remember – It was not your fault. It is never too late to get help. Healing from rape takes time. Seek help from supportive friends, family, and counselors at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.

What should I do if I suspect a child is being abused?

Reacting to child sexual abuse

Most sexually abused children are hesitant to disclose the abuse.  In fact, most disclosures happen accidentally.  If a child confesses sexual abuse to you:

  • Believe the child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.
  • Don't over-react, under-react, or minimize the situation. 
  • Praise the child for telling you.
  • Reassure the child that he or she is not to blame.
  • Show respect for the child.
  • Express your love for and confidence in the child.

Reporting child sexual abuse

If the child was abused by someone in his/her family or household, make a report to the child abuse hotline at the New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Reporting Center. The number is 1-800-342-3720. If you are a mandated reporter, call the hotline at 1-800-635-1522. They will notify the local Child Protective Services (CPS), who will investigate and take needed action to protect the child.

If the abuse was by someone outside of the family and household, report to the local or state police or sheriff’s department.

Recognizing Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can range from non-touching offenses such as exhibitionism, to fondling, intercourse, or use of a child in the production of pornographic materials.

Symptoms of sexual abuse may include physical and behavioral signs, as well as indirect comments made by the child. There are several clues to look for when considering the possibility of child sexual abuse.

Physical indicators of child sexual abuse:

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • Pain or itching in genital area
  • Bruises or bleeding in genital, vaginal, or anal area
  • Venereal disease, especially in pre-teens

Behavioral indicators of sexual abuse:

  • Unwillingness to change for or participate in gym class
  • Sudden, unusual difficulty with toilet habits
  • Regression to infantile behavior
  • Withdrawing from activities the child once enjoyed
  • Bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual behavior or knowledge
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Reports sexual assault
What should I do if a family member or friend has been victimized?

Listen. Believe what your friend or loved one tells you. Encourage them to seek medical attention immediately. They need to be:

  • checked for injuries, both external and internal
  • tested and offered treatment for STDs and HIV
  • offered emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy

Tell your friend or loved one that help is available and call us. A counselor will provide support and explain their options regarding medical treatment and reporting to law enforcement.

Be patient. Let your friend or loved one know that it was not his or her fault.

Call us for information on how you can continue to be a support to your friend or loved one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Become a Volunteer Advocate

Certified by New York State Department of Health, our comprehensive training course for Volunteer Advocates builds skills that may transfer to educational, career or personal goals. Trained Volunteer Advocates are “on call” a few shifts a month. Often, volunteers provide survivors with initial phone counseling, in-person support, and advocacy during a hospital exam or meeting with law enforcement. Volunteers rely on seasoned staff members for consultation or assistance as needed. Serving on the Volunteer Advocate team creates a shared sense of purpose, and provides rewarding experiences. 

What are reporting options for college students?

There are two unrelated systems for reporting campus sexual assault: local law enforcement and the school administration.  Reporting a sexual assault to a school and reporting the crime to the police involve two unrelated investigations that can have two different distinct results.

What should you expect if you take steps to file a report with law enforcement?

Typically, victims would speak to the police department nearest to where the incident occurred.  A victim can call or go to the police to file a report, a process that includes providing a statement of facts from the victim’s perspective. They will then be asked to review their written statement, and then sign it for accuracy. If something is not right, please be sure to tell the police officer so that they can change it. It is very important to do this, even if you feel nervous about doing it, as it could affect the investigation.

Who do you report to on campus?

Procedures may vary from campus to campus, but typically the victim will give a statement to a Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator. Your school’s website is required to have who your Title IX Coordinator is available.

What should you expect if you take steps to report to your school’s administration?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights guides schools to respond to reports in a prompt and timely manner, typically investigating and holding any hearing within 60 days (outside of appeals, accounting for any breaks in the academic calendar, and following the victim’s wishes if possible). The individual school may have staff or external investigators review statements, medical records, and interview witnesses prior to writing an investigation report and/or conducting a hearing. Appeals may be heard by another hearing panel or an institutional leader.

When should you seek medical care?

Victims are encouraged to medical attention immediately following a sexual assault, ideally within 96 hours in order to preserve evidence and ensure that preventive treatments are most likely to be effective.

What can you reasonably expect when you get to the hospital?

If a hospital has a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, the nurse on call will be notified of the need for a sexual assault evidence collection kit or rape kit. Police only need to be notified if the perpetrator used a weapon or when it involves a minor. If the victim does not want the kit going to law enforcement, the hospital is required to hold the kit for 30 days.  After 30 days, the hospital has the right to destroy the kit.  Please note that these exams can take several hours, and various restrictions, such as not changing clothes, bathing, or using the restroom, may be placed on victims in order to preserve evidence.

What is a rape kit, and why is it used?

A rape kit is a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit, which allows a medical professional to examine a victim for injuries consistent with the crimes of rape and sexual assault, as well as to retrieve specimens (hair, skin cells, bodily fluids, etc.) to identify the victim and perpetrator. Since this experience can be difficult following a sexual assault, and is a process for legal evidence collection, the examiner will not leave the victim once the exam has begun. The kit can be handed over directly to law enforcement as part of a pending investigation of the crime.

Rape kits are used in criminal prosecutions, but not necessarily in university hearings. Because the central issue in most (though not all) campus sexual assaults is consent, such exams may not be necessary. However, collecting evidence with a rape kit may permit victims to pursue multiple options in the future.

What if the victim does not want the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit, but wants medical attention?

Victims can also seek medical attention without pursuing a sexual assault evidence collection kit, to check for internal or external injuries, as well as to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. This can also be done in settings other than a hospital, such as at a community clinic or campus health center.

What is a SAFE/SANE hospital program? Is it available everywhere?

SAFE/SANE hospital programs employ specially trained health care practitioners who understand both the physical and emotional aspects of examining a recent victim of sexual assault, as well as how to best collect and preserve physical evidence. Unfortunately, they are not available at every hospital. In situations where a SAFE/SANE program does not exist, typically a nurse along with an emergency room physician or another mid-level practitioner collects the kit.

Who accompanies a victim to the hospital and does this person get to stay with the victim at all times?

Victims can determine who accompanies them to the hospital. Typically, they will be asked if they would like one person to stay with them during the exam, though this may vary from location to location. The support person should do his or her best not to interfere with the exam, but rather remain a support for the victim.

What can you ask for at the hospital?

Victims can request an advocate, a male or female examiner, emergency contraception, sexually transmitted infection prophylaxis, and/or a toxicology report.  The toxicology report is not a standard element of a rape kit, but should be requested if a victim believes he or she was drugged in order to facilitate the rape or sexual assault (in NYS, this would be a drug-facilitated kit). Victims can also opt out of any step of the exam with which they are not comfortable, with the understanding that potentially less physical evidence will be recovered.

What options are available to victims if there isn’t a hospital nearby?

Victims may seek medical attention at a community clinic or campus health center, though typically a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit will not be available at such locations. Additionally, states and institutions may offer compensation for travel to seek medical attention. If eligible, NYS OVS may be able to assist with medical bills and counseling expenses.