Options After An Assault
Get Emotional Support
Being raped or sexually assaulted is a horrific and traumatizing experience. However, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Talk to someone you trust. Tell them what happened and talk about your feelings. Talking to someone you trust is important because it is often your first step in healing. You may want to talk to a friend, family member or rape crisis advocate. Getting emotional support through counseling, therapy, or a support group can assist you in dealing with this trauma and can facilitate the road to recovery and healing. HOPE Works advocates are available to help you get in touch with a therapist or support group that fits your needs. YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS.
Seek Medical Attention
A medical exam after an assault is recommended to:
- Detect and treat injuries
- Discuss the possibility of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy and provide treatment
- Discuss your risk of having contracted HIV from the assault, and possibly offer you HIV prophylaxis
- Discuss the possibility of Rape Drugs and testing
- Gather medical evidence if you choose to report.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially trained nurses on call 24 hours a day. In order to be effective at collecting evidence of the assault, the medical exam should be done within 72 hours of the assault—and the sooner the better. It is best NOT to shower, wash your hands, douche, brush your teeth, drink anything, change the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault, or go to the bathroom before the examination, because this may wash away some of the evidence of the assault. Even if you have done these things, you should still consider seeking medical attention.
In Chittenden County, if the assault has happened in the last 72 hours, you may have a medical exam performed at the Emergency Room of the University of Vermont Medical Center. It is also recommended that you receive follow-up medical care two weeks after the initial sexual assault exam. The initial sexual assault exam and two follow-up medical exams can be paid for by the VT Center for Crime Victim Services if you would choose.
You may reach a SANE by calling the University of Vermont Medical Center Emergency Department at 802-847-2434 and asking to speak with a SANE nurse. If it has been more than 72 hours, you can make an appointment at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England at 802-863-6326, Women's Choice Gynecologic Associates at 802-863-9001, the Community Health Center of Burlington at 802-864-6309 or your own doctor.
Consider Legal Action
If you report a sexual assault in Chittenden County, your case will most likely be handled by the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations (CUSI). The detectives at CUSI are trained to handle sexual assault and abuse cases. If you file a report, you will be asked to give a detailed account of the assault, but your report is not a commitment to go to court. A HOPE Works advocate is available to answer your questions and help you with the process of reporting to the police. People who meet certain criteria may also be eligible for legal representation as they consider their legal options and/or participate in the prosecution of the offender. Advocates are also available to accompany and support you to court dates. You can reach the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations at 802-652-6800.