If you have been sexually assaulted, you may be confused – and overwhelmed by the thought of reporting the incident. Maybe you’re physically injured or fear your assailant may return. You may feel ashamed that this happened to you. Don’t be. It was not your fault.
Sexual violence has many forms. It can be rape (penetration without consent), sexual battery (non- consensual touching of intimate parts), child sexual abuse, non-consensual oral sex or non-consensual penetration by an object. In about 80 percent of cases, the sexual assault victim knows the assailant.
Your best bet is ACTION:
- Get to a safe place.
- Report the assault by calling 911 or campus police (if it occurred at a school or university) as soon as possible.
- Get medical attention.
- Do not do anything that would disturb the evidence, such as bathing, changing clothes or urinating (unless you can do it in a jar or other vessel to retain evidence).
- Reach out to the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline (800-656-4673) or any number of local agencies to find someone who will provide confidential support and will help you find a victim advocate to stand by your side throughout the process.
The rights of individuals in sexual assault cases are clearly defined. They start with the basic right to be treated with respect by the police officers and medical personnel with whom you come in contact. Your victim advocate can be present throughout the process, from interviews with detectives to being with you during any court proceedings. Anonymity – from the press and in any criminal proceedings – is yours.
You do have a right to do nothing about reporting the incident, but if a criminal case proceeds, you have a right to be kept up to date throughout by contacting the detective or having your advocate do so. You can refuse an interview or put it off until you’re in a better state of mind and you can update your statement as you remember more details. And, unless the case involves domestic violence, you can revoke your testimony, although charges may still be filed by the District Attorney. Read Sexual Assault Rights.
Sexual assault cases are bound by statutes of limitations that require lawsuits to be brought within a certain amount of time after the attack. In 2016, a law was enacted ending limitations on rape case prosecutions “under certain circumstances,” including if new DNA evidence is found. Similar loopholes exist in civil cases and vary depending on whether the defendant is a private individual or government entity.
Again, the key to dealing with sexual assault is ACTION. Report the assault, stand up for your rights, seek out the informed resources, and know that you can call CaseyGerry’s experienced attorneys for assistance in pursuing compensation for your injuries and suffering. See Areas Of Practice.
By: Jillian F. Hayes