If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
Developed by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
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 don’t 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 don’t understand what is happening—just ask. The nurse, doctor, officer, district attorney, and sexual assault advocate are available to explain things to you.
Remember 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.
Reporting a 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.
Advocates 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 “rape kit,” is performed by medical personnel to collect evidence. This exam can be performed whether or not you decide 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 Victims’ Compensation benefits that can help you pay for financial losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, counseling/therapy, and other costs related to the assault.
Do not 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, don’t 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.
If you believe you were given a drug, wait to urinate until you arrive at the hospital. However, if you can’t 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 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 prosecutor.
The prosecutor determines if there is enough evidence to move forward with prosecution. The system sometimes moves slowly. It sometimes seems that just as you begin to 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.
Sexual 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.
The sexual and domestic violence program nearest you, (from “Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Programs and Crisis Numbers by City” or “Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Map” below) or call:
Kansas Crisis Hotline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
KANSAS CRISIS HOTLINE: 888-END-ABUSE | 888-363-2287