What if I've been a victim?
Call your local sexual assault victim advocates. They can discuss with you all of your options and offer supportive services to you. In Summit County, you have four different reporting options:
- A formal complaint to Law Enforcement – the victim provides detailed information about the assault for a criminal investigation and a potential forensic exam may be administered, which may result in the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator.
- An information report to Law Enforcement – the victim provides pertinent information about the crime to law enforcement, a limited investigation may be conducted and there will be no arrest or prosecution of the perpetrator. A forensic medical exam may be conducted.
- Make no report at all. Even though this is always an option, victim advocates should encourage in a gentle and non-aggressive way that the victim at least speak with a law enforcement officer about the assault and reporting options.
- An anonymous report to Law Enforcement – the victim provides information about the assault in verbal or written form to Law Enforcement without identifying themselves. There will be no investigation, arrest or prosecution. The primary purpose of this kind of anonymous report is to allow police to increase their information, intelligence gathering, and tracking of sex offenders, while not forcing victims to identify themselves.
- If a victim wants a forensic medical exam their name will be attached to the forensic medical kit per C.R.S. 18-3-407.5.
What happens during a sexual assault medical exam?
It is important that you know in many hospitals there is a special program in place called the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or SANE, that exists to help you. SANE’s are specially trained and educated to work with sexual assault victims.
The following is a very brief description of what to expect during a forensic medical exam or “rape kit”. Remember to ask questions as you go along if you don’t understand something and remember you can refuse any part of the exam if you choose.
- The entire examination consists of your medical history, your account of the assault, a head-to-toe exam, a genital exam and forensic evidence collection, lasting up to four hours.
- The forensic exam usually takes 90 minutes. Your nurse will explain everything to you before the exam begins.
- The nurse will ask you details of the assault so that they can know where to look for injury and evidence. Your nurse will write down everything you tell them.
- The nurse will do a pregnancy test for women and give you medication to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
- Your nurse will look for and treat any injury and collect evidence. Nurses have been specifically trained not to cause more pain.
- You have the right to refuse any part of the exam. Please be aware that if the nurse does not perform certain steps of the exam, it may be more difficult to prove the assault in court. Remember, you do not have to agree to any part of the exam that you do not want to.
- A victim advocate will be called and is available to provide support, as needed, at your request.
(SANE Exam information taken from the Saint Anthony Summit Medical Center SANE Program brochure)
What Else Should I Know?
Asking for help is not weakness, it is actually strength; and help is available for you! Experiencing a sexual assault can affect survivors in many different ways. You may find yourself feeling or behaving very differently than usual. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to react, and there is no correct way to respond to trauma such as sexual violence. Only you know how you feel and you have a right to express those feelings in whatever way you need to.
Many survivors experience:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of control
- Difficulty sleeping
If you have experienced some or all of these feelings following a sexual assault, remember that you are having a normal reaction to a very abnormal and traumatic experience. On the other hand, these reactions may not fit your experience at all, and that’s okay too. A sexual assault advocate can help you understand the reactions you are having.