Rape and Sexual Assault
If you plan to have a sexual assault exam:
- Don't change clothes
- Don't shower/douche
- Don't brush your teeth or hair
- Don't eat or drink
- Don't smoke
There are only a few Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners that work in the hospitals in our area and they rotate. If you go to a hospital without checking, you may have to leave and go to another. Calling BRCC or the police can help speed the process up because they will find out where to take you.
Things that happen in a sexual assault exam:
- Once the exam starts, no one can leave or come in.
- You will be asked for your statement of what happened. This will be written verbatim by the SANE nurse into the report (Even if you say "don't put that" she will write what you said and "don't put that".)
- This statement is very important because it is now a legal document that can be used in court
- The nurse will perform a physical exam that includes swabbing the skin, mouth, teeth, under the nails, and orifices. The nurse will also take pubic and head hair samples. The nurse will perform a pelvic exam and take swabs. Pictures will be taken of any bruises or marks and of your body.
- The nurse will usually offer prophylactic antibiotics for any potential STIs. This includes pills and a shot in the muscle above the buttocks. Some locations may also offer emergency contraception. These medicines are not required.
Other information about the sexual assault exam:
- Your information is already protected through HIPAA but it will be further protected as confidential and the SANE nurse will be the only one to see it in the hospital. This record can be subpoenaed for court.
- A family member, friend, or advocate from BRCC can be in the exam room with you. They cannot leave once the exam starts.
- A sexual assault exam cannot prove rape. It can only prove sex may have happened (and not definitively).
Sexual assault is NEVER your fault. There is nothing you can do to deserve to be raped.
Your friends and family may not react well when you tell them. Some people are scared or don't know what to say. Some people won't believe you. Find others that will believe and help you. There are tons of resources online for recovery and healing as well as on our campus.
You deserve to be believed. You did not deserve to be raped.
This is not your fault. No one deserves to be abused.
Verbal and emotional abuse is a very real thing. This should not be discounted just because it doesn’t leave physical marks. Psychological abuse is real abuse.
This can include things like name calling, threats, insulting or criticizing, telling you that you are crazy, degradation, etc.
The cycle of violence:
- First phase: Tension Building
During this phase, the abuser may use emotional abuse and tries to gain complete control over the victim. The abuser will lose their temper easily and be increasingly violent. There is a breakdown in communication and the victim may feel like they are “walking on eggshells.”
- Second phase: Explosion
The abuser lashes out, with physical, emotional or sexual violence.
- Third phase: Calm/making up
The abuser may pretend that the violence never happened or may profusely apologize, begging to get a second chance. Many promises of “I won’t ever do it again” are made and the victim is sometimes showered with gifts and affection. After a while, they start going back into the tension building phase, starting the cycle over again.
[Note: during the making up phase, the abuser may apologize but it is often a backhanded apology, putting the blame on the victim. Example: Instead of “I’m sorry I hit you.” The abuser might say “I’m sorry you made me so mad I had to hit you.” Or “I’m so sorry but if you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have to hit you.”]
How You Can Help Someone Else:
- Believe them. Don’t pass judgment or offer advice or personal stories.
- Don’t demand that they leave or put the abusive partner down. This may drive them away.
- Accept that it’s ok to be confused about feelings towards an abusive partner. Don’t judge someone for still loving the person that is abusing them.
- Encourage the person to get help without demanding that they do. Offer to find resources for them so they don’t have to risk information being found at home.
- Call a domestic violence hotline for more information about what you can do to help this specific person
- Record events that the victim tells you with dates and descriptions. If they go to court at a later date, this might be helpful to proving abuse.
- Don’t blame the victim. Don’t say things like “You’re stupid to stay with him.” Or “Why do you let her treat you like this?”
- Don’t place conditions on your continued support (If you don’t leave him/her, I don’t want to help you anymore).
- Do not contact the abuser or confront them. This is dangerous and can lead to violence against yourself and increased violence towards the victim
- Call the police if you witness physical violence
- Help the victim develop a safety plan
Not everyone is ready to leave when they ask for help. It takes some victims years to get out of abusive situations. The most important thing for a person in a abusive situation (and for a supportive person to help with) is to make a safety plan for when the victim is ready to leave or when they think that they or a loved one may die if they don’t get out. This decision can happen abruptly so it is important to have a solid plan.
- If possible, contact (or have a trusted friend contact) the closest domestic violence shelter to get information about crisis intervention and getting out of your situation.
- If possible, keep important documents (ID, birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s license, money, credit cards or checks, work permits, green card, passports, etc.) in a safe place in the home or in a friend’s home to be accessed quickly in an emergency.
- Have a friend hold on to some extra clothes for yourself or your children. They may not be time to get these if leaving abruptly. (Medication is a good thing to have a store of outside the home if possible.)
- Establish a safe place to stay. This can be with a friend or in a shelter.
- Keep a card with contact information of people who can help with you at all times so you don’t have to remember phone numbers.
There is so much information and so many resources out there. These are just the haphazard ramblings of anti-violence enthusiast. What is something that you wish you had known when you or a loved one experienced violence?