Questions You May Have as a Rape Survivor
Posted on January 31, 2023     |     Rape
Rape is one of the most horrific crimes that can be committed against a person. As a rape survivor, you may be left picking up the pieces of your life. You might be struggling with physical, mental and emotional wounds that can take a long time to heal. At this overwhelming time, you most likely have a lot of unanswered questions.
We hope the answers to these frequently asked questions can help you. If you still have additional questions, please contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi to request a free and confidential case review. You can speak to a knowledgeable rape attorney to receive legal advice and assistance.
What Should I Do After Being Raped?
Call 911 to talk to law enforcement if you are in the midst of an emergency or at risk of immediate bodily harm. If it is not an emergency, you should still tell someone. Start by confiding in someone that you trust once you have gotten to a safe place. This may be a friend or family member. If you feel that you cannot talk to anyone you know, use an anonymous hotline that can put you in touch with a trained responder, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
If you were raped at an institution, such as a college or workplace, you may also wish to report the crime to authorities there. It is ultimately up to you if you wish to obtain assistance from police and medical providers after being raped. Telling someone, however, can connect you to the help that you need for your physical injuries and emotional trauma. It can also bring the perpetrator to justice.
Should I Seek Medical Attention?
Rape victims are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention immediately after the incident. Seeking medical care can help you in multiple ways. First, you can be examined by professionals for injuries. You may have injuries that your adrenaline or shock masked. Second, you can receive services regarding potential pregnancy or STDs.
Third, you can be tested for drugs if you believe the perpetrator drugged you with something to assist in the rape. Some drugs can only be detected within 12 hours of ingestion. Fourth, important evidence can be collected from your person that could help you bring a case against your assailant later, such as DNA.
How Long Do I Have to Get a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam?
A sexual assault forensic exam, previously known as a “rape kit,” is a comprehensive physical exam of a rape victim that must be completed within five days (120 hours) of the sexual assault. Although many victims struggle with the idea of being examined so soon after a traumatizing event, getting a sexual assault forensic exam is important to document the incident and collect evidence. You are allowed to bring someone with you for support, if desired.
Where Do I Go for a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit?
Only certain medical providers, hospitals and facilities have staff members who are trained to conduct sexual assault forensic exams. Before going to a hospital, call or look online to make sure it can complete a sexual assault kit. You can also ask exactly where to go to make the process as efficient as possible, such as which office or department handles these exams.
How Much Does an Exam or Kit Cost?
It is free to receive a sexual assault forensic exam and evidence collection kit. Each state has its own program to ensure that these exams are available at no cost to the victim, whether or not law enforcement is contacted. If the victim has insurance, this may or may not be used to pay for the exam depending on whether the victim believes using the insurance would substantially interfere with his or her privacy or safety.
If I Go to a Hospital, Do I Have to Talk to the Police?
Being treated at an emergency room or hospital, including getting a forensic exam or evidence collection kit, does not mean you must report the crime to the police. Some hospitals, however, have policies in place that require sexual assaults to be reported. Ask the hospital about its policies beforehand if you do not wish to tell the police about the rape. The professionals who are completing your sexual assault evidence collection will assist you in understanding your options. Your evidence kit cannot be released to the police without your permission.
Should I File Charges Against My Rapist?
The decision of whether or not to file charges against the person who raped you is entirely yours. If you know the identity of your rapist, working with the police to press criminal charges could give you a sense of justice. Taking the rapist off the streets could also potentially protect others. However, if you do not feel comfortable or ready to press charges, you do not have to report the crime to the police or participate if they plan on prosecuting the perpetrator.
Once you file charges, the police will investigate and search for evidence. Then, prosecutors will bring charges against the suspect. If the defendant is convicted of rape charges, he or she will be given a corresponding sentence. As a rape victim, you can choose your level of participation in the criminal process.
What if I Was Raped by My Spouse?
Rape by a spouse or romantic partner is still rape. If you did not want sexual intercourse or give your consent to engage in the sexual activity, it is sexual assault, regardless of your relationship with the perpetrator. Spousal rape is a very serious felony crime in California that can give you the right to pursue criminal penalties as well as a lawsuit for financial compensation against the abuser.
Do I Have the Ability to File a Lawsuit After Being Raped?
Rape survivors have the right to file civil lawsuits in pursuit of compensation for losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Filing this type of lawsuit could give you a greater sense of justice by holding the abuser civilly liable in addition to criminal charges. It could also give you the compensation that you need to move forward with your life.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also be eligible to file a claim against an institution for failing to protect you from rape. This may include a school, church, Girls and Boys Club, sports organization or health care provider. Holding an institution responsible could lead to safety improvements on a larger scale, as well as greater compensation for your losses. Contact a California rape lawyer to learn more about the legal process.