I Have Been Assaulted: What Do I Do?
In the Beginning
After a sexual assault, victims often sense a loss of control. This is normal. Know that there are people on and off campus who will offer free, confidential support and can help you make the decisions that are right for you to take care of yourself. You may want to report the assault immediately to authorities. You may not. The decision is yours to make. If you choose to report the sexual assault, you don’t need to go through any of the procedures alone. A friend, relative or rape crisis center counselor/advocate can accompany you and give you support.
If, at any point during the medical or legal procedures, you don’t understand what is happening – ask. The nurse, doctor, police officer, State’s Attorney, and rape crisis center advocate are available to explain things to you.
Remember that sexual assault and sexual violence are serious, inexcusable crimes. They are crimes that could happen to anyone. No matter what the circumstances were; the assault was not your fault.
If You Are Not Safe or Need Immediate Help
On campus: Call Public Safety at 217.245.3111
Off campus: Call 911
Seeking Medical Care
Seeking medical care is important, regardless of whether you choose to report to the police. Medical attention will provide for physical exam, treatment and collection of any evidence of the assault. It is important to remember:
- Sexual assault can result in injury or illness that you may not immediately see or feel. It is important that you seek appropriate medical care promptly.
- Resist the urge to change clothes, bathe, douche, eat, drink or brush your teeth.
- Bring a change of clothes with you when you go to the emergency room. Your clothing will be kept as evidence.
- Do not go to the bathroom, if possible. This is so that physical evidence can be collected and preserved.
You do not need to decide at this time whether you want to pursue legal action but if you save the evidence, it offers you more options in the future when you are better able to decide. The staff at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital and on campus at the Chesley Health and Wellness Center are trained to advise you and make referrals for evidence collection, should you decide to use it in pursuing legal action in the future.
Jacksonville Memorial Hospital is located just 1.6 miles from campus. JMH can be accessed in person or by phone at 217.245.9541, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Chesley Health and Wellness Center on campus can also provide evaluation and treatment for injuries and STIs, as well as pregnancy testing. The Chesley Health and Wellness Center hours can be found HERE and can be reached after hours via Campus Public Safety.
Sexually Transmitted Disease
Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes simplex II and HIV can be transmitted during a sexual assault. You may not know that you have a sexually transmitted disease until several weeks or months after it has been transmitted.
If you are concerned about having a sexually transmitted disease, discuss this with the doctor. He or she can give you preventive medicine at the time of the exam. You should receive information on any medication given to you. Make sure you know the name, dosage, purpose and possible side effects of the drug.
Even if you receive preventive treatment, it is important to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases two weeks after the attack, and again in six weeks. The Illinois Department of Public Health supplies free testing and treatment for sexually transmitted disease. You can receive these services at the Morgan County Health Department here in Jacksonville, located at 345 West State Street.
There is a chance that pregnancy will result from a sexual assault. While the chances are lessened if you are using birth control, a test for pregnancy is recommended for all women of childbearing age who are sexually assaulted.
You may request a pregnancy test at the time of the exam. However, an accurate pregnancy test cannot be given until six weeks after your last period. A test at the time of the sexual assault will not show if you are pregnant from the assault.
Having a late period does not necessarily mean you are pregnant. Stress, tension and worry can cause you to have a late period; this happens to many sexual assault victims. Follow-up testing is the most reliable way to determine whether you are pregnant.
If you do not have a private physician, the hospital emergency room or sexual assault crisis center can refer you to a doctor or health clinic.
Emergency Contraception (EC) is a medication which can be given at the time of the medical exam to prevent pregnancy. To be effective, emergency contraception must be given within 72 hours of the assault. EC is not a form of abortion. It is a heavy dose of normal birth control pills.
Hospitals are required to provide information on emergency contraception. Rape crisis center advocates can also provide information on EC and the location of the nearest pharmacy that will fill your prescription.
The hospital exam is designed for thorough and complete evidence collection. The entire evidence collection process will be done only with your consent. Any evidence found during this exam will strengthen the court case. Some physical evidence (such as the presence of sperm) can only be obtained during a medical exam within 72 hours of the attack.
Evidence may be collected even if you do not plan to report the attack to the police. If you decide, at a later date, that you would like to prosecute, this evidence will be available. Hospitals in Illinois are required to notify the local police department that treatment has been given to a sexual assault victim.
Evidence collection includes taking samples of substances from the vagina, rectum, and mouth; combings of head and pubic hair; and collecting material from beneath your fingernails. These samples will be used to detect the assailant’s sperm, hair and skin cells and can help to identify the attacker.
The clothes you were wearing also may be sent to the crime lab, and may be kept as evidence until your case is closed.
Photographs may be taken of bruises, cuts and other injuries that occurred during the assault. The photographs may be kept as evidence until your case is closed.
The Sexual Assault Survivor’s Emergency Treatment Act will cover the emergency room costs if you do not have public aid or private medical insurance. The hospital should not bill you for the treatment. Instead, they will be reimbursed by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Under the Illinois Crime Victim’s Compensation Act (CVCA), victims of violent crimes can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses, loss of earnings, psychological counseling and loss of support income due to the crime.
Maximum reimbursement under CVCA is $27,000. To be eligible, you must have reported the assault to the police within 72 hours of the crime. A claim application must be filed within two years of the date of the crime. Further information and application forms are available online at www.cyberdriveillinois.com or by calling 217-782-7101 or 312-814-5010. Rape crisis center staff can help you with the application procedure.