Remember that it is not your fault
- Be aware that help is available
- Call a crisis hotline, 800.656.HOPE
- Try to find a support network of friends or family that you can talk to.
- Express your feelings in a journal or diary.
- Go to a safe location away from the attacker.
- Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of becoming pregnant or acquiring a sexually transmitted infection.
- Contact someone who may help you such as law enforcement, your local rape crisis center or a person you trust.
- Consider preserving evidence: By avoiding cleaning or straightening up, evidence may be collected from the assault location. Though it may be hard not to clean up, the police will need to examine the scene for evidence if you report the crime.
- Consider remaining in the clothing worn during the assault or putting the clothing in a paper bag (not plastic) so that it can be entered into evidence. If possible, avoid washing the clothing.
- Consider preserving forensic evidence which can be collected from your body through a sexual assault forensic exam. For this reason, avoid bathing, washing hands, or brushing your teeth if possible.
- Ask a healthcare provider, law enforcement, or rape crisis center where you can go for a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) to be conducted. Note: you are not required to have a sexual assault forensic exam. It is ideal to collect forensic evidence from the body within 72 hours.
- If you suspect you have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected. Inform the sexual assault nurse examiner that you suspect you were drugged.
- If possible, write down, tape or record by any other means all the details you can recall about the assault and the assailant.
- Know that your local rape crisis center is available to help you. Visit www.centers.rainn.org
As a survivor of sexual assault you have several rights
What are your rights?
Your rape crisis counselor advocate is able to go over the following rights with you in further detail. You have the right to:
- Be treated with dignity and respect at all times.
- Be treated with sensitivity by medical and legal personnel.
- Have your rape crisis counselor/advocate and a support person of your choosing present during the sexual assault evidentiary exam or physical exam [Penal Code 264.2].
- Ask questions of the police, sexual assault forensic examiner, and attorneys.
- Have a rape crisis counselor/advocate present with you for any interviews by law enforcement authorities, district attorneys, or defense attorneys [Penal Code 679.04].
- Be kept informed on the status of your case.
- Maintain confidentiality with the rape crisis counselor/advocate [Penal Code 1035-1036.2].
- Change or add to your initial statement to law enforcement as you start to recall details more clearly.
- Decline an interview with law enforcement or reschedule for a time when you will be better able to participate.
- Request from law enforcement, information regarding whether a DNA profile was obtained from the testing of rape kit evidence, or other crime scene evidence from your case. You are also entitled to know whether that information was entered into DNA data banks. [Sexual Assault Victim’s DNA Bill of Rights. Penal Code 680].
- Decline an interview with defense attorneys and their investigators.
- Decline a phone interview.
- Not participate in the criminal justice process.
- Be compensated through the Victim Compensation Program if you qualify and cooperate with law enforcement.
- Have your rape crisis advocate accompany you during court appearance [Penal Code 868.5]
- Remain anonymous during criminal proceedings.
- Keep your face and/or name from being used in the media.
- Withdraw your testimony at any time.
- Request the status of DNA collected.
- You have the right to survive and thrive, which means that you have the right to request that which you need to transition from victim to survivor.