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Sexual Abuse

Frequently Asked Questions

What is sexual assault?

What is consent?

What can be done to prevent sexual assault?

What steps should I take following a sexual assault?

What are my rights for notification of the legal proceedings?

Am I eligible for victims' compensation?

How can I get a stalking order?

Can I get into legal trouble for reporting a sexual assault?

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is the commission of an unwanted sexual act, whether by a stranger or non stranger, that occurs without indication of consent of both individuals, or that occurs under threat or coercion.

Sexual assault can occur either forcibly and/or against a person's will, or when a person is incapable of giving consent. A person is legally incapable if intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol; if developmentally disabled; or if temporarily or permanently mentally or physically unable to do so.

Under federal and state law, sexual assault includes, but is not limited to, rape, forcible fondling (e.g. unwanted touching or kissing for purposes of sexual gratification), forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, sexual assault with an object, sexual battery, and threat of sexual assault.

What is consent?

Consent is based on CHOICE.

Consent is active not passive.

Consent is possible only when there is equal power.

Giving in because of fear is not consent.

Being verbally, emotionally, psychologically, or physically pressured into any kind of sexual activity is not consent.

There must always be ACTIVE CONSENT on both sides. Consent to one thing does NOT imply consent to another.

What can be done to prevent sexual assault?

Unfortunately, most guidelines for sexual assault prevention focus on the potential victim. Sexual assault is one of the few crimes in which the victim is somehow seen as being responsible for preventing her or his own victimization. People rarely ask what a murder victim could have done to save his or her own life, and you rarely hear, "Well, she works in a bank. She should have expected to be robbed at some point." Certainly, we must all be aware of our surroundings and try to avoid situations that are unsafe, but most victims of sexual assault know and may trust their assailants. 85% of women are assaulted by acquaintances, so while knowing how to reduce the risk of victimization by defending one's self, avoiding dark alley ways, traveling in groups, wearing modest clothing, and avoiding taking drinks from strangers, might be tips that would be helpful for potential victims, just as looking for someone wearing sunglasses and carrying a duffle bag might be useful for bank tellers, those widely circulated warnings cannot be the sole focus of sexual assault prevention, because the truth is, they aren't really preventative at all.

So. What can be done to prevent sexual assault? We believe, as many of the leading sexual assault advocacy organizations do, that the best way to prevent sexual assault is to shift the responsibility for sexual assault prevention from the victim to the perpetrator.. If we want to eliminate sexual assault, we have to change the thinking of young men in our communities (recognizing that only 7% of sexual assaults are committed by women). Too often, young men are not provided with the social or emotional skills that can keep them from assaulting women, but, we believe, that if women and men work toward an honest discussion of sexual assault, they can work toward actually preventing sexual assault rather than just focusing on risk reduction.


What steps should I take following a sexual assault?

Everyone responds to sexual assault differently. Since most sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances, some victims may feel uncomfortable or uncertain about seeking help. Victims may question their own actions leading up to the assault. They may fear being doubted by friends, family, and even doctors and police officers. These feelings are very normal. If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, we encourage you to come forward and seek help. Sexual assault is a crime, and you deserve to have your assailant prosecuted. If you choose to report the sexual assault, you should take the following steps:

1. Call 911.

2.. Go to your nearest emergency room. Do not shower or change your clothes. If you do choose to change your clothes, bring them with you. If you have showered, or a day or two has passed since the assault, you should still go the the emergency room. Doctors may still be able to run perform tests to collect evidence of the crime, and they will be able to help you through any physical consequences of the assault.

3. Speak with the police and allow doctors to perform a rape exam to collect evidence for prosecution. Once you arrive at the emergency room, hospital representatives will contact the police and a sexual assault advocate. The police officers will ask you questions about the assault and create a case number. The advocate will be present to answer any questions, promote your needs while you are going through the exam, and offer you support at the level you feel comfortable. Once you have met with the police, a doctor and/or a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will perform a rape exam. The purpose of the exam is to collect evidence of the police NOT to prove or disprove your claim of assault. Many women who are assaulted show NO signs of being assaulted. Police, doctors, and nurses are well aware of this fact and offer the exam in the hopes of collecting evidence, realizing that in some cases, no evidence remains.

Below is a description of what happens during the medical exam:

1. Written consent is obtained from the victim or the victim's guardian.

2. A medical history will be taken by the SANE or emergency doctor.

3. Pre-examination procedures, including urine samples, blood samples, blood pressure, pregnancy test, fingernail scrapings, and an id photograph, will be completed.

4. A pelvic exam will be performed by the SANE or the emergency doctor.

5. Collection of evidence, including clothes, saliva, blood, pubic and head hair combings, and swabs and smears, will be completed.

3. Once the exam is complete, discuss after care concerns with your doctor, nurse, and/or advocate. Once your exam is completed, your nurse and doctor will discuss topics related to the assault, such as sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. The hospital may offer an HIV test and you with prophylaxis to prevent certain STDs. The hospital should also discuss emergency contraceptive or Plan B. They will either provide you with the pill or offer a prescription. You will not be required to take the medication, but it is important to remember that emergency contraceptives are NOT abortion pills. They merely prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg if your assault happened to result in fertilization.

4. Seek the support of friends, family, and/or an advocacy group. Once you leave the hospital, you will experience a variety of emotional responses. You may experience denial, anger, guilt, shame, loneliness, and many more difficult emotions. Seeking the support from family, friends, and advocates will not erase these feelings, but may help you to express and manage them to a degree. Family and friends can offer support as you go through the recovery process. Advocates can provide you with information on support groups, victims compensation, and legal processes.

What are my rights for notification of the legal proceedings?

You must provide law enforcement a current phone number (non-cell phone) and address. Once you have provided them with contact information, you have the right to receive the following information from law enforcement and prosecution.

1. Prompt notification of any arrest made in relation to your case.

2. The possibility that the accused may be released prior to trial.

3. Rights that she/he has during the prosecution.

4. Explanation of process during the prosecution of the case.

5. Information on services available to protect the victim from threats or intimidations and contact information.

6. Notification of any preceding in which the accused might be released.

Am I eligible for victims' compensation?

Each case is different. Contact us for more information on victims' compensation and to discuss your individual circumstances.

How can I get a stalking order?

The Douglas County Task force can help you file for a stalking order. Each case is different and will require individual consideration. Contact us for more information on filing a stalking order. If you are the victim of stalking, you can help make a case for a stalking order by keeping track of any incidents, i.e. phone calls, texts, emails, letters, etc. The more evidence you have, the more compelling your argument for a stalking order will be.

Can I get into trouble for reporting a sexual assault?

Many young victims are particularly concerned with getting into legal trouble if they were assaulted while drinking or using drugs. While under aged drinking and drug use is a crime, law enforcement is MUCH more concerned with the assault than with your use of alcohol or drugs, and it is very rare that law enforcement officials would choose to prosecute victims. Sexual Assault is a very serious and dangerous crime and should be reported.




Victim Support Hotline:




In an emergency, call 911