Immediate Help

What to do if you have been raped or assaulted

Immediate Help

This is not your fault. It is always the fault of the offender.

What to do if you have been assaulted:

  • Get to a safe place as soon as possible. Your immediate safety is first.

Call the Verity 24/7 Hotline for support. 707-545-7273 – speak confidentially with a victim advocate:

707-545-RAPE

    • Call a friend or family member; someone you trust, for support.

 

      • Call the police. Reporting the assault to the police is a matter of choice – it’s all up to you! If you are undecided, please consider having the exam done to collect the evidence (evidence should be collected within 72 hours) and receive the medical attention you deserve. You can choose how much you want to cooperate with law enforcement throughout the entire process. See “Reasons to Report”

 

  • Preserve as much evidence as possible by following these guidelines:
      • DO NOT bathe
      • DO NOT brush your teeth, smoke, eat or drink
      • DO NOT change your clothes (but do take a change of clothes with you to the hospital)
      • NO NOT erase voicemails, emails, texts or other types of communication between you and your attacker.

     

  • Get immediate medical attention. Medical care is important, to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and to attend to any injuries.
  • Remember: Sexual Assault is NOT your fault

You have a right to:

  • be treated with dignity, courtesy and respect
  • determine whether to report the crime to the police
  • ask for a female police officer if you choose to report
  • demand privacy when meeting with a counselor or a police officer
  • have a personal support person present during interviews
  • locate an attorney to represent you (the prosecutor is not your attorney)
  • sue the rapist in civil court for monetary compensation
  • refuse to have evidence collected
  • be offered a sexual assault counselor/victim advocate to accompany you to medical, law enforcement and legal proceedings. penal code 679.04
  • be considered a rape victim/survivor regardless of the rapist’s relationship to you
  • not be judged because of race, age, class, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities or occupation
  • ask any questions AND GET ANSWERS about tests, exams, medications, treatment or police reports
  • voice complaints and expect to have them heard and accepted

Make sure you understand any forms you are asked to sign. Ask about any necessary follow-up care and testing.

Please consider:

  • Immediate Confidential Support: Verity’s hotline offers free and confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in English and Spanish 707-545-7273.
  • Counseling: Counseling is available to you and to those closest to you. It is never too late to get help.
  • Accompaniment: Verity’s Advocates go to court with victims to lend support and give information.
  • Support: Verity offers support groups and skill building groups in addition to individual counseling.

Verity’s advocacy services are free to victims. Counseling is available on a sliding scale. Please call 707-545-7270 x14 for details.

Reasons to report the assault to the police:

  • Reporting within 72 hours of the assault will allow for valuable evidence to be collected. Should your case be prosecuted, this increases the chances of apprehending the suspect and successfully prosecuting.
  • Reporting is empowering; it gives survivors a chance to discuss what has happened. Reporting gives survivors back some of their personal control.
  • Reporting the crime will ensure that medical expenses, including a forensic medical exam and costs for emergency care, may be paid by public compensation funds.
  • Reporting and prosecuting are essential to sexual assault prevention and the protection of other potential victims by stopping or deterring repeat offenders.
  • Reporting attests to the fact that sexual assault really happens and that this crime will not be suffered in silence.
  • Reporting can help support the case of a survivor who had previously reported a crime committed by your own attacker. The information you provide might be just enough to help them close their case and get justice.

Common Reactions to Sexual Assault:

As a survivor of sexual assault you may find yourself having some of the following reactions:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Doubt
  • Embarrassment
  • Fear
  • Flashbacks
  • Isolation
  • Nightmares
  • Powerlessness
  • Self-blame
  • Shame
  • Sleep Disorders

All of these feelings are normal. Verity’s crisis line counselors are available 24/7 to help you overcome the devastating effects of sexual violence.

You are not alone, Verity is only a phone call away. 707-545-7273.

 

Try to remember:
You are not at fault for what happened. You did not deserve it. You are alive, you have survived, and now is the time to begin the process of recovery. Reaching out and accepting support is part of the healing process. Call Verity for help.

Have you experienced sexual assault at some time?

For anyone who has, the journey to recovery can be difficult. Get Help: The first step is the hardest. Verity will be right by your side.

Sexual violence includes but is not limited to rape, incest, inappropriate touching, sexual harassment, child molestation, marital rape, exposure and voyeurism.

Sexual violence is very traumatic. Remember, you are not alone.

Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault. It does not matter what you did, wore, or said. The emotional effects of rape do not always appear immediately. It is never too late to get help.

Help for Survivors

Getting back to normal can take a long time and you may be wondering if there is anyone who can help. Many survivors have found it helpful to talk to rape crisis counselors. Call the 24/7 Crisis Line at 707-545-7273 or call during office hours 707-545-7270 to set up an appointment with a counselor at our Santa Rosa office. You may also call the 24-hour National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, at 1-800-656-HOPE. By calling this number you will be automatically connected to your closest rape crisis center. Rape crisis centers are on call 24-hours a day waiting to help you.

Verity provides a safe place to meet with other survivors. There are support groups available in both English and Spanish for survivors of sexual assault and a group for family and friends of survivors. (See Support Groups.) Verity also offers 8 and 16 week workshops for women survivors which can facilitate healing.

Male Survivors of Sexual Assault

Our society’s expectations of men are that men are always strong, invulnerable, stoic, and in control. Despite these stereotypes, men of all ages, sizes, strengths, looks, personalities and sexual orientations are victims of sexual assault. Males are sexually assaulted both as adults and as children.

Many people wonder why men are assaulted at lower rates than women. Sexual assault usually results from the perpetrator’s attempt to feel more powerful, thus the individuals who are perceived as having less power are often at greater risk for sexual assault. This is one reason why males are less often sexually assaulted than females, and why male children are at a greater risk of sexual abuse than are adult males. On an individual emotional level males are just as profoundly affected by sexual assault as females.

It is not unusual for a sexual assault to leave a male survivor questioning his masculinity and often his sexual identity if his abuse was male. This is one reason among many that men are less likely to report a sexual assault. All survivors, male or female, are entitled to receive empathetic, non-judgmental support and information after an assault. And, regardless of gender, the assault is never the survivor’s fault.

Family Help

1 in 3 girls and women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 1 in 6 boys and men are sexually assaulted by the age of 16.

Sexual assault affects everyone — directly or through the experiences of those we care about. If someone you care about has been sexually assaulted, you can help.

When it happens, survivors may be uncertain of where to turn for help. They hesitate. Should they call the police? Go to the emergency room? Where can they get support in making these decisions?

24/7 Crisis Line: 707-545-7273

Family members, spouses, and partners

When someone you know or care about has been assaulted, it is normal for you to feel upset and confused. At a time when you may want to help most, you will be dealing with a crisis of your own.

Your help is important to the survivor of sexual assault. It is natural for her or him to feel a tremendous loss of power and control over life. You can emphasize that just surviving is an accomplishment, and whatever (s)he did to survive was the right thing to do. It shows strength.

A survivor may feel anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, shame or depression. You may feel pain, sorrow, disgust — or be impatient with the recovery process. You may blame yourself, or the survivor — or want revenge. You may be tempted to make decisions for the survivor, to be over-protective. You may want to hide the assault from others. You may feel disturbed or confused when the survivor continues to be affected for weeks, months, and even years.

Here are a few things you can do to help the survivor:

  • Tell them you believe them, and it’s not their fault.
  • Listen, but be honest and gently tell them if you cannot handle the details.
  • Do not push them to talk, but be available to listen and help if needed.
  • Help the survivor with options for immediate medical and legal concerns.
  • Do not take control. Support the survivor’s decisions, even if you disagree.
  • Encourage them to seek support from trained professionals.

Deal with your own feelings and don’t let them overshadow those of the survivor. Learn more about sexual assault so you can help in the healing process. Do not hesitate to seek help from trained professionals in dealing with your feelings. Join Verity’s support group for family or friends of survivors of sexual assault: Healing Allies.

If my partner has been assaulted, how do I deal with our sexual relationship?

Try to talk openly and gently about this with your partner. It is vital to communicate. Let your partner’s neds guide your actions. ur partner’s attitude about sexuality may affect you. Consider seeing a counselor to talk about your feelings. Remember, most survivors recover from the trauma and lead healthy, loving lives.

If your partner wants to refrain from sexual activity, it is essential that you honor those wishes. Otherwise (s)he may feel rushed or frightened by your desire to be sexual. Remember that pressure or coercion to have sex is sexual assault and it is a crime.

Sexual assault is a very serious and personal trauma that should always be treated with sensitivity and respect for a survivor’s privacy. But there is a role we all can play in supporting survivors and programs that serve them. Through individual commitments by concerned citizens and the mobilization of communities around the issue of sexual assault, the road to recovery and healing is paved.

Sexual assault affects us all. It compromises the health, safety and welfare of our families and neighborhoods. It directly burdens financial resources for healthcare, law enforcement and criminal justice.

It takes many people and varied approaches to make a difference. We hope you will join us in creating a society free from sexual violence.

  • Become a Crisis Line Counselor. Volunteers staff the 24/7 Crisis Line. For information, call or email Verity’s Intervention Manager at 707-545-7270 x 18 or intervention@ourverity.org.
  • Verity offers internships for adults and service hours for teens. Call 707-545-7270 ext. 16 or prevention@ourverity.org.
  • Community Education – sexual assault prevention workshops are offered to any community group requesting information on child abuse and general sexual assault issues. Call 707-545-7270 ext. 13 or email prevention@ourverity.org.
  • Become a CAPP/TAPP educator – Child Abuse Prevention Project and Teen Assault Prevention Project.
    As a presenter for CAPP/TAPP, you will learn to facilitate dynamic classroom workshops for students.
    Call 707-545-7270 ext. 13 or email prevention@ourverity.org.

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