What Happens Next

benchIf you have been raped… whatever you’re feeling right now is okay.  There is no right or wrong way to feel after being raped.  Most importantly, though, the sexual assault was NOT YOUR FAULT.  There is nothing anyone can do to deserve to be raped or sexually assaulted.  If you have just experienced a rape or sexual assault, here are some important tips:

  • Get to a safe place.
    If you cannot get somewhere safe, call 911 immediately.
  • Don’t shower, eat, drink, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, or change your clothes before going to the hospital.
    These activities may eliminate valuable evidence that could assist in prosecution if you choose to file a police report.  However, if you have already done these things, please don’t let this stop you from seeking medical care.  If you have already changed your clothes, place the clothes in a clean paper bag and bring them with you.
  • Seek medical attention.
    There may be serious injuries from the assault that are not visible to you.  A doctor or nurse can help make sure you are okay and treat you for possible sexually transmitted diseases as well as offer medication to prevent pregnancy (emergency contraception).  If you are considering police involvement you should call the police or the MESA hotline within 72 hours (3 days) of the assault.
  • Call MESA’s Crisis Line for support and help at 303.443.7300.
  • Decide whether you want to make a police report.
    Choosing to report the assault to the police is an individual decision, so don’t let anyone pressure you either way or another.  You do not need to report to police in order to receive medical care, or to receive any of the services that MESA provides.
  • Get information whenever you have questions or concerns.
    After a sexual assault, you have a lot of choices and decisions to make; e.g., medical care and follow-up needs, participating in law enforcement investigation, telling other people, and returning to work and/or school.  As questions if you are confused or not sure about your options, M.E.S.A. volunteer counselors can be reached at 303.443.7300.
  • Ask about Colorado’s Crime Victim Compensation Program.
    As a victim of crime, you may be eligible for reimbursement for the financial impact of the assault.  The Colorado Crime Victim Compensation Program assists with expenses associated with loss of work, counseling, and other qualified expenses.  If you would like to understand your rights and information about crime victim’s compensation you may meet with an advocate to assist you in the application and filing process.  Contact M.E.S.A. for additional information at 303.443.7300.
  • Seek support for yourself
    You have been through a traumatic experience and may need help dealing with the impact of the assault.  Even if it happened a long time ago, it is never too late to talk to someone about it.  You do not have to go through this alone.  MESA offers free and confidential support services for survivors of all forms of sexual violence.  You can call our 24 hour hotline 303.443.7300 to speak to a counselor or set up a time to meet one-on-one.

What Happens During the Medical Exam?

The following is a very brief description of what to expect during a forensic medical exam or “rape kit”.  Remember to ask questions as you go along if you don’t understand something and remember you can refuse any part of the exam if you choose.  MESA can provide support during a medical exam; please reach out and call us at 303.443.7300.

  • You should try not to use the bathroom, eat, or drink before the exam because this may interfere with some aspects of evidence collection.
  • You must give written consent to have the exam performed.
  • You will be asked to give a general medical history (i.e. current medications, past illnesses etc…)
  • You will be asked to give a “sexual assault/ abuse history” which is a detailed description of the assault.
  • If you are wearing clothing you wore during the assault you may be asked to give it to the nurse as evidence.
  • The nurse will take various “samples” from you (such as fingernail scrapings, hair standards, oral swabs etc…) this is for evidence collection and to establish a difference between your DNA and any other that is found.
  • If you think you were given a “drug” used to facilitate a rape or sexual assault the nurse will collect a urine sample.  Depending on the time elapsed since the assault, the nurse may also advise the collection of blood.
  • The nurse will offer you emergency contraception and medications that may help to prevent contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • The final stage of the exam is a vaginal/penile exam in which the nurse will check for injuries and evidence.

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