Sexual Assault Information
No one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted.
Sexual assault is any sexual activity that is done without consent, whether through force, manipulation, or coercion. It is a crime. Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnic, or economic background.
Sexual assault has short- and long-term physical and mental health effects that make recovery difficult. Since most sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows, the perpetrator is often an acquaintance, friend or relative, which may make the sexual abuse even more traumatic. Whether or not a survivor chooses to report a sexual assault, MCVP can provide support and services, resources and additional referrals that can help survivors begin the recovery process.
Sexual assault is against the law, regardless of when or where it occurs, or the gender of the survivor or perpetrator. There are time limitations for legal recourse, so survivors can talk to an advocate about their options or an attorney about their legal rights.
Options to Consider if You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
Consider your safety first. You can call the police or 911 if you believe you are in immediate danger. If you are not in danger, it is your decision to report a sexual assault to the police or not. If you do decide to report the crime to police, MCVP advocates can accompany you and provide support.
Seeking medial attention is always recommended regardless of your decision to report the crime to the police. A medical exam can provide treatment for injuries or sexually transmitted infections, as well as provide emergency pregnancy and HIV prevention. MCVP advocates can accompany you to a medical professional including emergency department visits any time of day or night.
You may also be asked if you would like a sexual assault forensic exam to be preformed by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). This examination, sometimes referred to as a ‘rape kit’, will collect evidence about the assault that may be useful if you choose to seek legal justice. Your kit can be collected anonymously if you are not ready to report immediately. It is important to know that under the law, medial professionals must report cases of suspected child abuse and gunshot wounds. The SANE may also ask to collect your underwear or other articles of clothing to check for evidence. If you decide to have a forensic exam, try to avoid changing your clothes, bathing, drinking, eating, or other activities that may damage evidence. If possible, it is best to have the forensic exam performed within 72 to 96 hours of the assault for greater chances of evidence being present.
If you are not sure where to start or want to process what has happened first, you can call MCVP for support. A trained sexual assault crisis advocate will be there to offer you support and answer any questions you may have. The advocate will meet you at the hospital and/or police station. Any information you share with the advocate is confidential. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and help you understand your options.
The process of healing and regaining trust after being sexually assaulted, especially by someone you know, can be a long one. not only has your body been violated, but your faith in another person has been betrayed. Everyone responds to this in a different way. It might take a while for you to feel safe and secure again. You may be able to put it out of your mind immediately. Others around you may have a hard time understanding your process. Talking about the assault and your feelings with someone you trust and that understands these differences can help.
We at MCVP are here to listen, help you explore your options, and provide referrals and confidential support.
5 ways you can help a survivor of sexual assault:
- Believe. Remember, the assault is not the survivor’s fault.
- Be supportive.
- Encourage the person to seek medical attention and contact a local crisis center.
- Support the person’s right to make her/his own decisions.
- Maintain confidentiality.
Information adapted from the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence brochure on sexual assault.
We also offer support services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.