Sexual Assault

Anyone can be a victim of sexual violence. Please know that you are not alone and are never to blame. There are both campus and community resources available to help.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’VE BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED

It’s hard to know what to do, how to feel, or what your options are after a sexual assault. Please know that you’re not alone and you are NEVER to blame. Below you will find recommended actions immediately following a sexual assault and what to expect in the short and long term recovery.

 

Please Remember that Sexual Assault Is Never Your  Fault! 

If you were forced to have any type of sexual contact without consent you are a crime victim and are Never to Blame!

 

Find a Safe Place to Go

Locate a safe place away from the perpetrator and out of danger. If you're injured, go straight to the emergency room or call 9-1-1.

Reach out for Support 

  • Call a friend, family member, or someone you trust for support.
  • Call the Confidential Victim Advocate on Campus @ 559-278-6796
  • Call Rape Counseling Services (RCS)559-222-7273

The victim advocate can help you review your options, assist you in seeking medical care, counseling, housing accommodations, academic accommodations and provide you with any additional referrals and resources you may need. 

Preserve all Physical Evidence of the Assault (rape kit)

If you are considering reporting to the police (whether now or at any time in the future) an evidentiary exam (rape kit) is strongly recommended.Do not shower, bathe, douche, urinate, brush your teeth or change your clothes if you have been sexually assaulted. I know this is very difficult to do but it will preserve evidence to be used later on if you decide to file a police report and press charges.

If you have been the victim of forced oral sex, please do not eat, drink or smoke, again to preserve evidence.

If you must change your clothes, please put each article of clothing in a separate PAPER Bag. Do not put the items of clothing in a plastic bag as it could contaminate the evidence.

If you have to urinate, try to capture the urine in a container to be used for evidence testing. I realize this is difficult, but testing urine is the best way to discover whether or not you were given a date rape such as Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine, or Valium, as these drugs quickly pass through the body.

If the assault took place in your place of residence, please do not touch anything and leave the scene as it is

If you would like to have evidence collected to possibly pursue a criminal complaint in the future, you can go to:

  • Forensic Nurse Specialists of Central CA (FNSCC, 559-324-9100) or
  • Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC, 559-459-6000). The Victim Advocate can assist you with travel.

Preferably, the evidence should be collected within 72hrs of the assault, although the earlier the evidence is collected the better. Please note, evidence can be collected up to 5 days after the assault.

Get Medical Care as Soon as Possible

  • Even if you do not plan on making a police report, consider getting medical care as soon as possible.
  • Although you may not have any apparent physical injuries, you may be at risk for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections/diseases and additional health concerns.
  • Pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted infections should be given within 72 HOURS of the assault in order to be effective (although emergency contraception can be taken up to 5 days after the assault, however, the sooner the better)
  • The Student Health and Counseling Center @ 559-278-2734 can also assist in the treatment of sexual assault victims, including testing for STI’s and pregnancy, although they cannot collect evidence.

Write Down All that You Can Remember About the Assault

When you get some quiet time to yourself, write down all the circumstances of the assault that you can remember while they are fresh in your mind. Remember to note what occurred prior to and during the assault, who was present during the assault, and a description of the perpetrator, whether alcohol or drugs were present, etc.

You will not be subject to disciplinary actions if you have been drinking or using drugs. We are not interested in the alcohol and drug usage, only your safety and well being. 

Consider Reporting the Assault 

  • Anonymous Report – If you do not wish to file a police report or report with the University, please consider filing an anonymous report. Although no charges will be filed based on this report, you will have the opportunity to have your story heard. You can contact the Victim Advocate @ 559-278-6796 to assist you in this process, or file an online anonymous report here or at fresnostate@tipnow.org
  • Confidential Report- You have the option to report the sexual assault confidentially to the Victim Advocate (559-278-6796) on campus. The victim advocate can explain all options and resources available to you. At any time, this confidential report can change to a formal report if requested.
  • Title IX Report- Even if you do not wish to file a police report, you can still file a Title IX report within the University. Fresno State's Title IX Coordinator is Erin Boele, 559-278-2345. The Victim Advocate on campus can assist you in this process if needed. There is no timeline to report.
  • Police Report –If you report the victimization within 120 hours after the assault (preferably within 72hrs), a police officer can transport you to the hospital or to a local facility (FNSCC) for a sexual assault examination at no charge to you. The Victim Advocate on campus or a victim advocate from Rape Counseling Services (RCS) will meet you at the emergency room or the local facility and be present during any medical procedures or questioning if needed. Just reporting the assault to the police DOES NOT mean that you have to press charges later on. There is no timeline to report a sexual assault incident.

Talk with a Counselor 

Speak with someone who is trained to assist sexual assault victims about the emotional, physical, and legal impact of an assault. Although you may not feel you need assistance immediately following the assault, there may be a time when you would like to talk to somebody who can help. Listed below are confidential resources to assist in the recovery process.

  • Rape Counseling Services (RCS) @ 559-222-7273
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline @ 1-800-656-HOPE 

Take Care of Yourself 

Surviving a sexual assault is a traumatic event and requires time to cope and recover from physical and emotional health needs. There are a number of reactions and feelings you may be experiencing, all of which are normal responses to a sexual assault occurrence. A counselor, psychologist, or trained sexual assault victim advocate can help you manage these reactions. Possible reactions, all of which are NORMAL may include:

  • Anger 
  • Fear
  • Denial
  • Anxiety                                          
  • Embarrassment                                                                         
  • Sleeplessness
  • Helplessness
  • Mood Swings                                   
  • Eating Changes                               
  • Crying or Yelling
  • Substance Abuse 
  • Calm and Unaffected Manner                      
  • Suicidal Thoughts

Remember:  The assault was not your fault! 

You are not to blame regardless of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault, even if:

  • You were drinking, had drunk too much, or used drugs prior to the assault
  • If you were on a date or the attacker was a friend, classmate, current or former partner or spouse
  • If you have been sexually intimate with the perpetrator or others prior to the assault
  • If you had sex with the perpetrator the day , week or month before the assault
  • If you were unable to fight back or say “no”

TIME SENSITIVE MEDICAL CARE

Victim/survivors of sexual assault may be concerned about physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections and for female victims pregnancy and should consider getting medical attention for the following reasons:

All services except medical evidence collection (rape kit) and drug testing can be provided for students at the Student Health and Counseling Center. 

If you would like to have evidence collected to possibly pursue a criminal complaint in the future, you can go to:

  • Forensic Nurse Specialists of Central CA (FNSCC, 559-324-9100) or
  • Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC, 559-459-6000). The Victim Advocate can assist you with travel.

To treat any injuries that may have occurred during the assault . 

Even if you do not 'feel' injured, it is possible you have injuries that you are unaware of. You may have experienced bruising, lacerations, or internal injuries (particularly if you were forced to have vaginal or anal intercourse).

To obtain antibiotics to treat for, and for the prevention of, sexually transmitted infections.

HIV prophylaxis need to be started within 2-72 hours of the assault. STI preventive medications should be started within 72 hours after the assault but the sooner they are started, the better.

To obtain emergency contraception (optional)

If you are concerned about pregnancy, you can prevent pregnancy by taking emergency contraception within 72 hrs (although it is possible to take emergency contraception up to 5 days days) after the assault. Emergency contraception is most effective when taken as soon as possible after the assault

To provide for the possibility of collecting forensic evidence (rape kit)

This may be useful if you wish to pursue criminal charges now or in the future. Although evidence should be collected as soon as possible after the assault, preferably within 72hrs, evidence can be collected up to 5 days after the assault.

If you would like to have evidence collected to possibly pursue a criminal complaint in the future, you can go to:

  • Forensic Nurse Specialists of Central CA (FNSCC, 559-324-9100) or
  • Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC, 559-459-6000). The Victim Advocate can assist you with travel.

Screen for Date Rape Drugs

  • Screening for date rape drugs can be done up to 72 hours after the incident but is optimally done within 12 hours as these drugs leave the system very quickly
  • If you are concerned that you may have been drugged, ask the medical provider to take a urine sample as these drugs are more likely to be detected in the urine rather than in the blood.

For Immediate Counseling and Referrals

  • Medical and/or counseling staff can discuss STIs, pregnancy and any other medical concerns you may have regarding this assault.
  • Medical/counseling staff can also put you in contact with any additional campus or community resources if needed.

Please keep in mind, you can decide what medical care you want or don't want.

RECOVERING FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT

Whether by a stranger or an acquaintance, sexual assault can be a frightening, disorienting, traumatic and lengthy process. Sexual assault impacts people regardless of sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Each sexual assault survivor responds differently to the trauma and crisis associated with this type of crime.

Impact of Trauma

After an assault, survivors often feel fearful, confused, guilty, ashamed, or isolated. If you have been sexually assaulted you do not have to deal with these or any other feelings on your own. There are many concerned people at Fresno State and you have the right to receive assistance from people who will believe you and assist you in your recovery. Please know that sexual assault is never your fault.

Please remember that the feelings described below do not describe all responses to sexual assault as each person responds differently. Whether you were assaulted recently or at some time in the past, you may find yourself experiencing any, all, or none of the reactions below:

  • Difficulty relating with those close to you
  • Changes in your normal sleeping pattern
  • Changes in your appetite
  • Headaches, stomachaches or other physical symptoms of stress
  • Feelings that may be uncomfortable and/or frightening, including feeling generally “down” or angry at yourself or others (including the rapist)
  • Mood swings, including crying more easily
  • Difficulty with sexuality
  • Difficulty in handling your classes
  • Difficulty in concentrating

Taking care of yourself emotionally includes acknowledging that something bad happened, even if you’re not sure whether it was sexual assault. Responses such as those listed above can occur after an assault and may be signals to reach out for help. You can seek immediate assistance from:

Confidential Support Services

Confidential Victim Advocate  559-278-6796

Rape Counseling Services (RCS) 559-222-7273

First Few Days or Weeks

In the first few days or weeks after an assault, many survivors want to put it behind them, to forget it, and “get on with their lives.” This may be strengthened by feelings of guilt, or shame or feelings that the attack could have been prevented. Some survivors then try to deny that the assault had any effect on them, or deny that it happened at all. This is also a time when survivors are likely to feel depressed, scared, or angry. You may find yourself being more concerned about being attacked again, and focus on locking doors and not being alone. You may also feel depressed and have difficulty with school, work, and other day-to-day activities.

While all these reactions are normal, remember that the assault is not your fault. Each person’s healing process is different, but this is a time to allow yourself space to recover. It may help you to talk to family, friends, or someone you trust. If it is difficult for you to talk to family, friends or someone within your social network, counseling can be very helpful at this point. A counselor or victims advocate is a confidential, support person who is available to help and may be easier to talk to about the assault. It is your right, however, to heal in whatever way best suits you.

Confidential Support Services

Confidential Victim Advocate 559-278-6796

Rape Counseling Services (RCS) 559-222-7273

Long-Term Recovery

Survivors often fear that they will never be the same after a sexual assault. A goal of long-term recovery is to integrate the assault into your life so that it is not a driving force affecting your behaviors, feelings, thoughts, or relationships. Although the memory may always be difficult and uncomfortable, it is possible to be less affected by it as time goes by. Most survivors take some time to recover, but almost all DO eventually recover and are able to move on with their lives. It is normal, however, to experience some depression following the assault, and you may find yourself getting upset or frightened when something reminds you of the assault (e.g., TV shows, movies, yelling or arguments, a sexual experience, even if it is consensual, seeing someone who looks like the perpetrator, smells, music). Ongoing therapy, support groups, and help from friends and family can assist in the recovery.

Some survivors also find it healing to get involved in programs such as training to be an advocate at a sexual assault counseling program or becoming part of the Fresno State’s Peer Education Program. Working to prevent sexual assault and help other victims become survivors can be healing and help with your own recovery.

Effects of Victimization

It is important to remember that there is no one right way to heal from a sexual assault and that different people recover in different ways. You should find the sources of support and help that are comfortable for you.

Everyone reacts to trauma differently. There is no one right way to react to being a victim of interpersonal violence. How a person responds to trauma is often determined by:

  • The nature of the event: the actual or feared physical or emotional injury, including death
  • What the event means to the survivor: some experiences, are traumatic for some but not others.
  • Past history of trauma
  • Current stressors in the survivor's life
  • Support system and other life resources available to the survivor


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