What To Do If You're Being Assaulted
If you have been raped, you should be examined immediately for injuries, including internal injuries that may not be readily apparent. Your medical provider may also test for pregnancy and for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. With your consent, physical evidence will also be gathered, to preserve your option of pursuing criminal charges. Victims are not billed for the cost of providing a medical exam or for evidence collection.
Sexual abuse survivors commonly feel ashamed, fearful, confused, angry, and alone. These feelings may be difficult to endure and to overcome without support. A counselor can help you understand that the rape is not your fault, even if you were naïve, did not act cautiously or agreed to some level of sexual behavior. You may also benefit from participating in a support group, where you would receive help from the group’s facilitator and from others who have been assaulted.
Consider Reporting the Assault
Rape victims, unlike victims of other crimes, are often reluctant to report assaults to the police or University authorities. You may be afraid that others won’t believe you, or that you will be blamed for the assault. Perhaps you know the person who raped you, and you are worried about getting that person into “too much” trouble. You may be very uncertain about your rights.
There are several reasons you may choose to report a sexual assault to the police:
- You may need medical attention, including internal injuries that are not readily apparent. You should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and for pregnancy. Law enforcement officials can help you access medical assistance.
- Reporting an assault does not commit you to pressing charges or to prosecuting the assailant. However, promptly reporting an assault helps create the strongest case possible in the event that you decide to pursue criminal charges and/or university disciplinary action.
- If you delay reporting, physical evidence may become unusable, making prosecution less likely.
Note: If you don’t want to pursue a formal complaint, you can still be treated at an Emergency Room.
- Even if criminal charges are not filed, reporting the crime provides law enforcement personnel with important information, including a description of the assailant and the method of committing the crime. Such information may be helpful in solving other cases.
- Reporting the assault also insures more accurate statistics on the incidence of rape, an important tool in enacting or modifying rape laws and for developing prevention strategies. Sexaul Assault Anonymous Reporting Form
- As a crime victim, you are eligible for financial compensation through the Crime Victim Compensation Program. In Iowa, the crime must generally be reported to local law enforcement officials within 72 hours of the assault, in order to be eligible for this compensation (extenuating circumstances that prevent timely reporting are taken into account).
- Rapists are often repeat offenders. Reporting may help authorities identify a pattern in a rapist's behavior.
- Reporting a sexual assault is an active way of regaining control. It is a healthy way to channel anger and to appropriately place blame with the perpetrator.