What to do if you’ve experienced sexual violence:
You have OPTIONS
BAWAR offers a 24- hour hotline and in-person counseling support services for survivors of sexual violence
You may go to a hospital*, clinic or your own doctor for an examination. You can get a complete check-up if you are in pain. You can find free, fast and confidential testing in your area at the CDC website here: https://gettested.cdc.gov/. You will most likely be asked to get tested again for follow-up in about 4-6 weeks.
*If you present at a medical facility or to your private doctor and say that you were raped, by law that medical person must report the assault to the police. If you are certain that you do not want the police involved, you can complain of having had “painful, unprotected intercourse”. This should insure that you receive the appropriate tests without involving the police. If the medical facility does report the assault to the police, you do not need to speak with the police. If a report is made, a BAWAR advocate will be dispatched to support you and inform you of your rights/options throughout the process.
You have a choice of whether or not to report to the police
There are many reasons why survivors either do or do not choose to report their assault to the police. The only right solution is the one that you decide for yourself.
If you are undecided about reporting, it is important to understand the time frames for making a report and for evidence collection.
-A Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (previously known as a rape kit) must be done within 72 hours (3 days) of the assault.You can find more information about this exam on our SART Services page.
-It is suggested to keep any clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault in a brown paper bag so that there may be some evidence when and if you decide to report.
-As of January 1, 2017, California no longer has a statute of limitations for felony sexual offenses. You can find more information about the bill at http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB813
-After an initial report is made, you still have the option of not going forward with the case.
Remember, you can call BAWAR 24/7 for support around making this decision. We do not advise survivors of assault one way or another, we offer options and a space to talk it through.
If you decide to report to the police
-If you are making the report within 72 hours of the assault, it is suggested not to bathe, douche or brush your teeth. This helps to keep evidence on the body in tact for collection.
-You must call the police department in the city in which the assault was committed. The police should come to where you are (unless you are a significant distance from where the assault occurred) and take an initial report. Questions need to be asked to ascertain the type of crime committed, the description of the assailant, and any evidence that might need to be secured. After the initial report, a detective will be assigned to your case within two weeks.
-BAWAR can assist with follow-ups to the police department regarding your case.
You may also go directly to a hospital emergency room and the hospital will call the appropriate authorities. Alameda County has three SART sites. Valley Care Hospital in the Tri-Valley area, Washington Hospital in Fremont for south county residents and Highland Hospital in Oakland for north county residents. All sexual assault survivors aged 14 and over are seen at one of these three hospitals. If you are under the age of 14, you will be seen at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Alameda County has a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) that responds to these hospitals. This team includes specially trained nurse practitioners, sexual assault advocates (i.e. BAWAR) and police officers. These sites have the most up to date equipment to help with evidence collection. Extensive police questioning about the incidence most often happens at the hospital.
Being questioned by the police is difficult. Understanding the reasons for some of the questions might help. The reasons for police questioning may include the following: determining if or what crime occurred; establishing the elements of the crime (i.e. for rape: lack of consent, penetration, etc.); identification of the rapist(s); determining method of operation (MO) and/or specific behaviors and statements of the perpetrator.
This necessitates many detailed questions and you may find some of them offensive or arbitrary. If you feel offended or confused by a question, it is okay to ask the officer to explain the reason for the question. Examples of sometimes offensive yet necessary questions are: “Have you had consensual sex within the last 72 hours?” This is a necessary question because if sperm is found in the forensic evidence collection, the police must establish its source.
-BAWAR Advocates are not affiliated with the police or the hospitals, and are only there to support you and assist you in navigating throughout this process.
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