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Sexual Assault Survivors: Know Your Rights

Sexual Assault Survivors: Know Your Rights

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted (RAINN, 2017). Understand that sexual violence does not discriminate. Sexual violence affects all genders, sexual orientations, ethnicity’s, social strata’s, ages, etc. If you have not been directly affected by sexual violence, odds are that you know someone who has been affected by it. Because sexual violence is such a prevalent issue, we want to take the time to discuss the rights a survivor of sexual assault has.

 As a survivor of sexual assault, you have the right to the following services:

- Free & confidential advocate
- Counseling
- Protection order
- Sexual assault exam at no cost to you
- Crime Victims Compensation
- Other resources that are completely free

Services breakdown:

 Advocates are here to support you throughout the entire process as well as discuss the options and resources that are available to you. The process can start with a phone call: reaching out to us for support, then getting connected with local advocates in your area.

Both outreach advocates and call center advocates can walk you through the process of: obtaining a protection order, qualifying for counseling, obtaining a free sexual assault examination at a local hospital, filing a police report, qualifying for crime victims’ compensation, and additional resources. This process and the services you receive are based upon what you are needing. All of these are available, but you as the survivor can decide which services you want to partake in.

Advocates and Counselors:

Advocates and counselors are available for support as well. The Call Center’s advocacy is free and confidential 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We can advocate over the phone, both short term and long term. We can also get you connected to a local program that can provide ongoing assistance and see what resources you qualify for. Our advocates are available 24/7. We can assist with the protection order, crime victims’ compensation paperwork, offering support before, during, and after a sane exam, working with law enforcement, etc. A counselor is available after qualifying for their services. You can meet with them regularly to identify positive coping strategies, receive support, recover from trauma, and focus on overall improving mental and emotional well-being. Both advocates and counselors are available for support and to provide ongoing assistance.

Protection Orders:

For the protection orders, there are emergency, short term, and long term protection orders available. Protection orders can be placed by law enforcement, or you as a survivor can file for a civil protection order at your local county courthouse. A call center advocate and outreach advocate can help assist with explaining the process, filing paperwork, and attending the hearing for the protection order.

 As a survivor of sexual assault, you have gone through a traumatic experience. You are strong and resilient no matter what you decide. That is the important aspect to remember every step of the way: YOU as a survivor are in control of your life and what services you are needing. When deciding whether or not to file for a protection order, understand that it may be re-traumatizing.  You would have to testify that the sexual assault occurred and explain why you are needing a protection order. As re-traumatizing as this may be, it can also be therapeutic and empowering; to be able to discuss what you went through, face your attacker, and stand tall and proud as you are a SURVIVOR of sexual assault and you are there to fight and stand up for yourself. As difficult as it may be, understand that you are not alone. We are here to support you and will support whatever decision you make.

SANE Exam, Reporting Options, Access to Medical Care, Right to have an Advocate present:

 If you have been a victim of sexual assault, you have the right to a sexual assault examination performed at the state’s expense. The state of Iowa passed the “Iowa Sexual Abuse Examination Payment Program” in 1979 that pays the cost of evidentiary examinations in sexual abuse crime (iowattorneygeneral.gov). You nor your insurance company would ever be billed for any expenses unless you have additional injuries from the assault that require further medical treatment, in which case you can apply for reimbursement through Crime Victim’s Compensation Program. This program is comprised entirely of fines and penalties paid by convicted criminals.

If you want or choose to have medical treatment performed, you can go to any hospital across Iowa. You can receive medical treatment, get a SANE exam, and notify law enforcement. All of which, are completely free. Additionally, during all of these services you can have an advocate present for support and to help explain services.

The services available to you immediately will be: to get a SANE exam, notify law enforcement, have an advocate be present. It is important to understand that while the exam and law enforcement notification is an option once at the hospital, it is not mandatory. You can decide to only get medical treatment without getting the sane exam and reporting to law enforcement. While all the services are available, you determine what services you do and do not want. You are a SURVIVOR of sexual assault. You are strong, courageous, and brave. You are in control. The amount of services and support you receive is entirely your decision. Advocates are here to support that decision and help explain and guide you to the resources you are wanting.

All of this information and deciding what services you want can be extremely over whelming. That is what advocates are for. We are here for support and/or to talk through resources. Call 1-800-770-1650 or text IOWAHELP to 20121 for 24/7 support.