FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I AM NOT A VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT OR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE; CAN I STILL RECEIVE COUNSELING AT THE COALITION?
Yes. We offer low-cost counseling for anyone who may be interested in receiving services.
WHAT DO I DO IF I’VE BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED?
Take steps right away if you’ve been sexually assaulted. Get away from the attacker to a safe place as fast as you can. Then call 911. If you are unsure of what to do call our 24-hour Bilingual Hotline at 1.800.300.2181
and they will put you in touch with a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor. Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not change clothes if possible. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault.
DO I HAVE TO COOPERATE WITH A POLICE INVESTIGATION TO RECEIVE FREE SEXUAL ASSAULT COUNSELING?
No. Counseling is available regardless of the survivor’s decision to pursue legal action or not.
I SUFFERED FROM SEXUAL ABUSE WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, DO I HAVE TO HAVE A POLICE REPORT IN ORDER TO GET FREE COUNSELING SERVICES?
No. There is no time limit on services offered and victims are never required to provide any “proof”. All you need to do is call our office or hotline and can request counseling at any time.
HOW CAN I HELP SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED?
You can help someone who is abused or who has been assaulted by listening and offering comfort. Go with her or him to the police, the hospital, or to counseling. Reinforce the message that she or he is not at fault and that it is natural to feel angry and ashamed.
IF I WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED WITHIN THE PAST 96 HOURS, WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I GO TO THE HOSPITAL?
If you are over 18 and want to have an exam performed, law enforcement will be called, however this does not mean that you have to follow through with an investigation. The officer will take a brief report and then may activate a crisis response team. Should you choose to follow through with an investigation this may include law enforcement, a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor from our agency, and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). If you are over 18 and choose not to follow through with an investigation you can request a Restricted Report. Law enforcement will either transport or direct you to the local Safe Harbor location where a forensic exam will take place. Safe Harbor is a confidential center for victims to receive care in a calm environment.
I WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BUT I DON’T KNOW IF I WANT TO GO THROUGH WITH AN INVESTIGATION. WHAT DO I DO?
You have the right to request a Restricted Report. This means that you can request a sexual assault exam where evidence will be collected but you are not required to proceed with an investigation.
WHAT IS A FORENSIC EXAM OR “RAPE KIT”?
A forensic exam (sometimes referred to as a “rape kit” or “rape exam”) is a careful procedure performed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE nurse) that has the potential to collect DNA and other evidence in a way that may be used in court if you choose to prosecute. If you decide to have a forensic exam (and it’s completely up to you), the SANE nurse will be called to perform the exam. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are specifically trained to collect evidence, check for injuries, and deal with the possibility of pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. A Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor from the Coalition will also be present to offer emotional support and discuss resources. Remember, you have the right to refuse any medical treatment, including the forensic exam, when you go to the hospital. Also keep in mind that, if the assault occurred weeks or months before, medical attention is still important.
THE FORENSIC EXAM LOOKS FOR DNA EVIDENCE. WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE I HAVE IT DONE?
If possible, try not to bathe, shower, or use the toilet before getting the exam performed. Because evidence of the assault and the perpetrator’s identity (hair, seminal fluids, bits of skin, etc.) may be left on your body, it is important to try and preserve these. If you were assaulted orally, avoid drinking, eating or brushing your teeth prior to the exam. Keep in mind that your well-being is our first priority, and if you need to do (or have already done) one of these things to feel better, there is still a chance to collect evidence afterwards. Also, if possible, don’t change your clothes before the exam. If you must change clothes, place the items that were worn at the time of the attack in a paper bag (not plastic) and take them with you to the hospital. Having physical evidence collected can strengthen a case if you decide to pursue legal action.
WHAT ARE YOUR FEES FOR INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING?
We operate on a sliding scale dependent upon income.
IS YOUR THERAPY CONFIDENTIAL?
Yes. Our therapists are MFT Inters or Trainees and operate under the strict guidelines from the Board of Behavioral Sciences that provide our clients with confidentiality. Therapist may break confidentiality only if the client poses a danger to themselves, threatens to harm someone else, reports any form of child abuse, or if we are subpoenaed by a court of law.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE AT NIGHT OR ON THE WEEKEND?
We have a confidential 24 hour bilingual hotline staffed by trained professionals, you can call this number any time 1.800.300.2181.
AM I ALWAYS GOING TO FEEL THIS WAY?
As far as feeling “this way”, all clients can expect to feel different after therapeutic treatment. Sometimes this can even mean feeling worse for a while. Brining up disturbing topics can be, well, disturbing. However, if the client is committed to changing how they think about themselves and their world, positive change can be made that includes long term improvement in mood and affect. Trauma rarely goes away completely, but it can be managed and put in a less prominent part of our daily lives. We are not looking for perfection, just improvement.
WHY DO I KEEP FINDING THE SAME KIND OF GUY?
People tend to find the same kind of people in a new relationship because of familiarity. If you came from a high drama house as a kid, a low drama house doesn’t feel natural, despite how functional it may be. People also tend to find people with similar levels of self-esteem. If you are in the dumps you will probably find someone who is also not at the top of their game. That is why it is best to take a long time to heel from a dysfunctional relationship before looking for a new one. If your are feeling healthy, it is much more likely that you will be attracted to someone who is healthy as well.