BAWAR Offers Both Hotline and In-Person Counseling Support for Rape Survivors
What to do if you are raped
Get to a safe place IMMEDIATELY. Call a friend or BAWAR for support.
It is important to think about medical treatment even if you have chosen not to report. You may go to a hospital, clinic or your own doctor for an examination. Get a complete check-up if you are in pain. Getting medical treatment is very important due to the high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. If you are concerned about AIDS, contact a counselor, or call 800 FOR-AIDS. Be sure you are tested for all transmittable diseases within 4 to 6 weeks after the assault.
If not reporting the rape to the police
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 the survivor does not need to speak with them.
If you are undecided about reporting it is important to make a decision as soon as possible. Physical evidence can only be collected within 72 hours of the assault. It is wise 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. There is a statue of limitations of six years for rape so you can report within that time period if you choose. Remember, even after an initial report is made you have the option of not going forward with the case.
If reporting the rape to the police
Do not bathe or douche.
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 be secured in the home.
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 an over are seen at one of these 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, rape advocates and the police officer. 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 a crime occurred; establishing the elements of the crime (i.e., for rape, lack of consent, vaginal penetration, etc.); identification of the rapist(s); determining method of operation (MO) and/or specific behaviors and statements of the perpetrator. This necessitates many very detailed questions and you may find some of them offensive. If you feel offended or confused by a question it is ok 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 rape exam the police must establish its source; “Can you tell me what you were wearing?” This may be important to know to help verify your story. If you were at a club it may be important to see if anyone at the club remembers you.
More about reporting