If You’ve Experienced Sexual Violence
What is sexual violence?
Sexual violence is any unwanted or non-consensual sexual experience. This may or may not include:
- Sexual harassment
- Forcing, manipulating, or threatening you into sexual activity
- Intimate partner rape/assault
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Someone having sex/inappropriately touching you while you are incapacitated (intoxicated, asleep, otherwise unable to consent)
- Sexual exploitation/trafficking
- Sharing private photos of you with others without your consent
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, it is normal to feel afraid, confused, numb, sad, or any other feeling that you have. You are not alone. If you would like support from a rape crisis center, you can find your local center here. Below you will find additional options available to you.
If you are in immediate danger you may choose to call 911 or seek support from a friend, neighbor, family member, or your local service provider. You may also choose to go to a hospital (with or without law enforcement involvement) to receive medical care for injuries.
After you've experienced sexual violence of any kind, you may choose to get a forensic medical exam (FME), also known as a "rape kit." You do not have to experience vaginal or anal penetration in order to receive an FME. FMEs are completely optional and you can receive medical services following an assault to treat your injuries without having evidence collected. If you choose to have evidence collected, you have up to 120 hours (5 days) following an assault. You do not have to make a report to law enforcement in order to have evidence collected, this is called anonymous reporting. Other than collecting evidence and treating injuries, seeking medical care following an assault can also allow you to receive treatment/testing for STIs and pregnancy testing and prevention. You can access STI services and pregnancy testing through your local health department if you do not wish to go to a hospital. If you would like an advocate to accompany you to your medical appointments or have questions about the exam, contact your local rape crisis center.
Reporting to Law Enforcement
If you are over 18, it is your choice whether or not to report the assault to law enforcement. If you are a minor, there are state mandatory reporting laws that may trigger a report to law enforcement. This can be a very difficult decision and it's okay if you do not know right away. You can choose to make the report in the future and if you have evidence collected, it will be stored for at least one year. Making a report to law enforcement does not guarantee that the person who harmed you will be arrested or eventually serve any sentence. If you have questions about making a report to law enforcement or would like more information about the process, contact your local rape crisis center.
Experiencing sexual violence comes with many emotions and responses. They are all valid. There's no right way to feel. If you need emotional support or would like to talk about what happened, whether it was two days ago or 10 years ago, you can contact your local rape crisis center and get connected to an advocate that can offer you support and listen. Advocates can provide referrals to other mental health services if you would like and can help you safety plan and learn coping strategies if you're feeling overwhelmed. Your rape crisis center is a free and confidential service. You can find your local program here.