If You've Experienced Sexual Violence
What to do
Sexual assault can happen to anyone: any gender, any age, any socio-economic status, any profession, any ethnic or racial identity, any sexual orientation, any religious affiliation, anyone. You are not alone. Among ASU students surveyed, 3.3% of female students and 0.4% of ASU male students experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault in the previous year. In most cases, the victim and assailant know each other.
If you have experienced sexual assault you may feel angry, afraid, humiliated, confused, or numb. You may blame yourself, or make excuses for your assailant’s behavior. You may not know what to do our where to find support. The following information is a guide for you to help you find the information and support you may need for safety, medical, legal, counseling, and other considerations.
Find a Safe Place
- If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- In the immediate aftermath of sexual assault, the most important thing is your safety. Go to a safe place. Whether it is your residence, a friend’s place, or with a family member, your immediate safety is what matters most.
- If you live on campus, contact your Community Assistant or Community Director for support.
Preserve Evidence of the Assault
- Do not shower, bathe, douche, and/or brush your teeth or hair.
- Save all the clothing you were wearing at the time you were assaulted in a paper bag.
- Make every effort to save anything that might contain the assailant’s DNA. Do not clean up the crime scene or move anything the assailant may have touched.
- Write down as much as you can remember about the circumstances of the assault, including a description of the assailant. If you have a picture of the assailant, prepare to give it to the police.
Filing a Police Report is Optional
Sexual assault is a serious crime. Even if you know your assailant, you can choose to report the assault to the police.
- To make a police report, call 911. The local police will send an officer to take your report. Make sure to say where the assault took place; on or off campus, and in which city. You can also call the city’s police department.
- If you were assaulted on campus, an ASU police officer will be sent to take your report.
- Filing a police report does not obligate you to press charges. You may file a police report to document your experience without pressing charges.
Your report will be investigated if you choose to press charges. If there is sufficient evidence, the case will be submitted to the County Attorney’s office, where it will be determined if it can be successfully prosecuted.
- Keep in mind that if the police determine that the suspect may pose a threat to the campus community, they will be obligated to disclose your case to other departments on campus, even if you prefer not to have your case investigated.
The Forensic Exam
- A forensic exam can be performed up to 5 days following the assault. However, it is important to have a forensic exam as soon as possible for the best results.
- The forensic exam is available through several Family Advocacy Centers in the Phoenix area to collect and preserve evidence of the sexual assault. Forensic exams are performed by specially trained forensic nurses.
- Even if you have not decided to report the crime, a forensic exam can be done to collect and keep the evidence safe. The evidence can be used at a later date if you decide to file a report.
- Family Advocacy Centers are designed to improve the reporting experience by locating many of the disciplines involved in the investigation and care of the victim in one building designed to support the investigation and care of the victim.
- These centers can also link you to an advocate who is experienced in working with victims of sexual assault and will assist with discussing the assault with the forensic nurse, law enforcement, and/or counselors.
- If you believe you were drugged, it is important to obtain a urine sample for a complete toxicology screen as soon as possible because some drugs can clear your system within a few hours. Blood may also be collected.
For your health and protection, it is important to be checked and treated for possible injuries, sexually transmitted infections. It is also important to be tested for pregnancy.
- This can be done as a part of the forensic exam at a Family Advocacy Center, through ASU Health Services, through a private physician’s office or other medical facility.
- Emergency contraception is available to prevent pregnancy. This is a prescription medication that can be taken up to 72 -120 hours after the assault, depending on the drug.
- A follow-up medical exam should be completed in 4-6 weeks to test for HIV, sexually transmitted infections that have not been responsive to treatment. It is also important to be tested for pregnancy.
- Sexual assault is a traumatic experience. Talking to a counselor and/or people in your support system can be helpful if you are feeling upset or confused.
- Student Advocacy and Assistance provides referrals and contacts that can help you to address the academic and personal concerns that have resulted from your experience. Offices are located on each ASU Campus.
- If the assailant is an ASU student, you can file a complaint with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. This can be done with or without filing a police report. Your complaint will be investigated, and, if substantiated, result in disciplinary action for the assailant.