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Victim/Survivor FAQ

What if I was abused years ago?

Even if you were abuse many years ago, some of your options are still open for consideration. While you can still report the abuse at any time, your legal options may be limited depending on state laws like statutes of limitations. A statute of limitations is the time allotted for victims to pursue legal action against the perpetrators. For a more in depth understanding click here. Each state has a different time period designated for the limitation (and the time limits also vary within most states depending whether or not criminal charges or a civil lawsuit is brought). Click here to view each states’ law.

If the civil and criminal SOLs have run then the other option is to report to law enforcement. When reporting to law enforcement, it is important to know that not all law enforcement agencies will will take the report, but such a report might prove useful in the future.

Because statutes of limitations can be very technical in nature, we recommend consulting a lawyer in your state or jurisdiction to learn more.

Can I file a police report after a Criminal or Civil Statute of limitations has Expired?

You can still file a police report after your window has closed. This is especially important if the perpetrator still works around children or other potential victims that they could be preying on. Even though the perpetrator may not able to be charged with the crime committed against you, it’s good to have on file in case another survivor comes forward with a similar story. In some states, your story could be used as evidence against the perpetrator in another case. Filing a police report may also allow you to use the crime victims’ fund for services such as counseling. For more about this click here, and to find out about your states’ fund click here. Learn more about filing a police report here.

can I still file a police report after the perpetrator has been charged with another crime?

Yes. The fact that the person who assaulted you is facing criminal charges on other matters is no reason for you not to report your assault if that is what you want to do. Your additional report could be helpful because the defendant could face additional charges, it could help establish a MO (modus operandi), or provide physical or other corroborating evidence in the pending criminal case. In most jurisdictions, this may also allow you the opportunity to give a victim impact statement if the perpetrator is already facing other criminal charges. Learn more about filing a police report here.

What if I can’t remember everything that Happened?

It is ok to not remember. If you cannot remember something, it is ok to say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” when talking to friends, family, or throughout the reporting process. Memories of traumatic events are laid down differently to everyday memories. Usually we encode what we see, hear, smell, taste and physically sense, as well as how that all fits together and what it means to us – and together, those different types of information enable us to recall events as a coherent story. But during traumatic events our bodies are flooded with stress and hormones. These encourage the brain to focus on the here and now, at the expense of the full memory (1).

What if the person I told isn’t supportive?

We are sorry this happened to you, but know you are not alone. Realize that although that person may not be supportive, there are people out there willing and able to support you in even better ways. For more advice and thoughts from a survivor who has experienced something similar, click here.

What if I was Under the influence and underage?

It’s important to remember that sexual assault is a crime—no matter the circumstances. You did nothing wrong. There is a false assumption that exists that when alcohol or another substance is involved in assault, it lessens the crime—as if the perpetrator is somehow less responsible for their actions under the influence and the survivor is more responsible if they were under the influence. This is wrong. Nothing you did caused this to happen.

In many states, and in institutions like universities, amnesty laws and rules have been put in place. Amnesty laws and rules (also sometimes known as ‘Good Samaritan’ provisions or laws) grant immunity from consequences of drug, alcohol, and other minor student conduct infractions that could discourage reporting of sexual misconduct (2).

We recommend consulting a lawyer in your state or jurisdiction to learn more.

Title IX Faq

Does title IX differ in k-12 versus at Universities?

Title IX applies to all educational institutions, both public and private, that receive federal funds. Almost all private schools must abide by Title IX regulations because they receive federal funding through federal financial aid programs used by their students. The Clery Act does not apply to K-12. If you are filing a Title IX Report as a minor (under 18), and you have experienced certain kinds of violence (e.g., rape, sexual assault, or physical abuse), school officials may be required to disclose your case to the police, which could trigger a criminal (outside of the school) investigation. 

How is title ix applied to athletics?

Title IX applies to all educational programs and activities, and athletic programs are considered an educational program or activity. There are three parts of TITLE IX as it applies to athletics (2):

  1. Participation: Title IX requires that women and men be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports. Title IX does not require institutions to offer identical sports but an equal opportunity to play;

  2. Scholarships: Title IX requires that female and male student-athletes receive athletics scholarship dollars proportional to their participation; and

  3. Other benefits: Title IX requires the equal treatment of female and male student-athletes in the provisions of: (a) equipment and supplies; (b) scheduling of games and practice times; (c) travel and daily allowance/per diem; (d) access to tutoring; (e) coaching, (f) locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; (g) medical and training facilities and services; (h) housing and dining facilities and services; (i) publicity and promotions; (j) support services and (k) recruitment of student-athletes.

Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations FAQ

 What is a Rape Kit and a sexual assault forensic exam?

The term rape kit refers to a kit— a container that usually includes a checklist, materials, and instructions, along with envelopes and containers to package any specimens collected during a sexual assault forensic examination. A rape kit may also be referred to as a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK). The contents of the kit vary by state and jurisdiction and may include:

  • Bags and paper sheets for evidence collection

  • Comb

  • Documentation forms

  • Envelopes

  • Instructions

  • Materials for blood samples

  • Swabs

The steps here outline the general process for the exam. Remember, you can stop, pause, or skip a step at any time during the examination. It is entirely your choice.

Not every hospital or health facility has someone on staff that is specially trained to perform a sexual assault forensic examination and interact with recent survivors of sexual assault. When you call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) you will be directed to a facility that is prepared to give you the care you need. The people who can perform the exam are usually called:

  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) — registered nurses who receive specialized education and fulfill clinical requirements to perform the exam

  • Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFEs) and Sexual Assault Examiners (SAEs) — other healthcare professionals who have been instructed and trained to complete the exam

We recommend consulting a lawyer in your state or jurisdiction to learn more.

How do I prepare for a sexual assault forensic exam?

A sexual assault forensic examination preserves possible DNA and other biologial evidence and helps survivors receive important medical care specialized for survivors of sexual assault.

In most cases, DNA evidence preferably needs to be collected within 72 hours in order to be analyzed by a crime lab—but a sexual assault forensic exam can reveal other forms of evidence beyond this time frame that can be useful if you decide to report. If you are able to, try to avoid activities that could potentially damage evidence such as:

  • Bathing

  • Showering

  • Using the restroom

  • Changing clothes

  • Combing hair

  • Wiping the area

  • Cleaning up the area

More information on the above can be found here.

Do I have to file a police report if I get the exam done?

No. You may have a SAFE and choose not to report to the police at the time of the exam – or ever. A victim of sexual assault cannot be required to report the assault to the police or talk to the police or prosecutor in order to get a medical forensic examination (see Violence Against Women Act). However, hospitals, pharmacies, physicians, and surgeons may have a duty to immediately report certain information to their local law enforcement agency when a person under their care is suffering from an injury inflicted by means of violence or if the survivor is a minor or elderly/disabled (these are generally known as mandatory reporter laws).

Even when a police report is filed, a survivor still has a choice to prosecute or not.

Will the examination be billed to my insurance?

This depends on your states laws. Please see the chart below for more information (1):

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Who pays for the examination?

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), states are required to provide medical forensic examinations to survivors free of charge and without any out-of-pocket expense. How this is paid for depends on the state (see chart below) (2).

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However, this law is primarily centered on collection of the sexual assault evidence kit and does not extend to much of the medical testing, evaluation and treatment that may occur within a comprehensive medical exam, such as CT scans, MRI scans, certain laboratory testing, STI testing, pregnancy testing, and follow up care. Each state has additional laws on paying for these services and if insurance is billed for the additional treatment. For more information click here.

Does it matter if I know who the perpetrator was? Should I still have the exam?

There is value in having a sexual assault forensic examination performed, regardless of whether or not you know the identity of the perpetrator or perpetrators. DNA evidence collected during the exam can play an important role in the case against the perpetrator. But the exam is about more than just the DNA collection – it’s also to document internal and external injuries, take photographs, access HIV / STI prophlaxis, and more generally to be connected to an advocate/get referrals.

How long will the (rape kit) evidence be stored?

The amount of time an evidence kit will be stored varies by state and jurisdiction. A SANE, advocate, or law enforcement officer should let you know how long the evidence will be stored and the state’s rules for disposing the kit or evidence. It’s important to note that the amount of time the kit is stored doesn’t necessarily match up with the amount of time that legal action can be taken against a perpetrator, also known as the statute of limitation.