Sexual Assault FAQs
- In an emergency, dial 911. Seek immediate medical attention if you may have been injured. Always seek medical attention if pressure has been applied to your neck or breathing as these muscles may swell even hours after the assault and impair or stop breathing.
- Go to a safe place, call a friend and, most importantly, do not blame yourself. You should go to a safe place and call a friend, family member or someone you can trust to provide you with support. Most importantly, remember the following: The assault was not your fault. Your behavior did not cause what happened. Your dress did not cause what happened. Alcohol did not cause what happened. Only the person who commits an assault causes an assault to occur.
- Seek medical care and a medical exam as soon as possible. Resist the urge to shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, smoke or brush your teeth until you have had a sexual assault medical exam. Go to a hospital emergency room if possible (local clinics, private doctors or even specialists may not have certifications, equipment or the training to provide a complete forensic sexual assault exam). For the services a hospital emergency room must provide, see Texas Health and Safety Code § 323. Many physical injuries may not be apparent immediately. Also, you will need to be tested for and discuss treatment and prevention options for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Take a friend with you for support. Contact our Confidential Advisor if you want her to accompany you to the emergency room (361-570-4135 or toll free 1-855-848-4279 and ask for Elena Torres for a sexual assault exam accompaniment).
- Report the crime. Notify campus police or local law enforcement immediately. Immediate notification can help you gain a sense of control, preserve important evidence and protect the community.
- Talk with a counselor who is trained to consult with crime victims. If you are a Victoria area student, you can contact the UHV Counseling Center at 361-570-4135 or visit them in University West Suite 132. If you are a Houston area student, you can contact the University of Texas Health Science Center at 713-500-3327 or toll free at 800-346-3549. In Houston, you can also call the Houston Area Women's Center 24-hour sexual assault hotline at 713-528-7273 or the Fort Bend County Women's Center at 281-342-4357. You can also find additional resources by calling RAINN, a national victim assistance organization at 1-800-656-HOPE.
- Call a Title IX Coordinator. Sexual assault is a violation of the UH System Sexual Misconduct Policy. The Title IX Coordinators can talk with you about your rights and resources and help you access appropriate housing, academic or safety accommodations. These accommodations area available with or without a formal complaint. Call the Title IX Coordinator at 361-570-4835 if you need special arrangements to be made for housing or classroom setting or want to talk about your options.
How do I get medical care and do I have to file a police report to get a forensic sexual assault exam?
You should seek medical care immediately after a sexual assault, even if you don't have any apparent injuries or you don't know if you will file a Sexual Misconduct Policy Violation report and/or police report. Contact the UHV Counseling Center (361-570-4135) for a staff member certified to accompany you on a medical exam. You DO NOT have to file a police report to get medical attention or a sexual assault exam. Reasons to seek a sexual assault exam include:
You may have injuries of which you are not aware.
Most sexual assault victims do not have serious or life-threatening injuries. Many victims do not even have visible injuries or have minor injuries. However, you should still be examined by a doctor or a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Nurse. You may be in shock, and you may have internal injuries of which you are not aware. Neck injuries can be especially dangerous and can cause swelling hours after the event that could impair or stop your breathing. You may also have minor injuries, such as scratches or bruises. A doctor or nurse can treat these injuries. The doctor or nurse can also document any injuries you have sustained so that if you decide to take any kind of legal action, such as participating in the prosecution of your assailant, you will have a record of what happened to you.
You can receive treatment to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and potential pregnancy.
A sexual assault can place you at risk for getting sexual transmitted diseases or potential pregnancy. A doctor or nurse can help you evaluate your risk of contracting various STI's and advise you about ways to protect yourself against these risks. One of the benefits of obtaining medical care very soon after a sexual assault is that immediate evaluation and medication can prevent some STIs. You can also receive information on emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning after pill for the prevention of pregnancy.
A medical exam enables you to identify and preserve physical evidence of the assault.
During a medical examination, the doctor or nurse can look for and collect physical evidence of a sexual assault, such as semen, sperm, saliva samples, and stains on your body or clothing. This evidence may be present immediately after the assault but will deteriorate as time passes.
- The doctor or nurse will ask about your general health and medical history. If you are a female, you will be asked about your menstrual pattern and whether or not you use contraception. You will also be asked about the sexual assault. The information you give helps the examiner conduct a thorough physical evaluation.
- The doctor will look for injuries and other signs of force. You may be asked to provide consent for photos if you have visible injuries. If you do have physical injuries, pictures should be taken of those injuries.
- The doctor may also take samples from your vagina, mouth, or rectum. Other evidence may be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, or from the clothes you were wearing at the time of your assault.
- You may also be tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases.
- If you suspect you were given a date rape drug, ask the medical provider to take a urine sample. Some date rape drugs are more readily detected in urine than in blood, but they don't remain in your system for very long.
- You can discuss options for emergency contraception.
Under Texas state law, victims of sexual assault cannot be required to pay for forensic medical examination or evidence collection. See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 56.065(h)(2). Costs for medical treatment for health conditions resulting from a sexual assault may be reimbursed through state funds. To learn more about crime victim benefits eligibility, visit the Office of the Attorney General Crime Victims Compensation Program.
According to the Violence Against Women Act, proceedings will:
- Include a prompt, fair, and impartial process from the initial investigation to the final result;
- Be conducted by officials who, at a minimum, receive annual training on the issues related to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and on how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that protects the safety of victims and promotes accountability;
- Provide the accuser and the accused with the same opportunities to have others present during any institutional disciplinary proceeding, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by the advisor of their choice;
- Not limit the choice of advisor or presence for either the accuser or the accused in any meeting or institutional disciplinary proceeding; however, the institution may establish restrictions regarding the extent to which the advisor may participate in the proceedings, as long as the restrictions apply equally to both parties; and
- Require simultaneous notification, in writing, to both the accuser and the accused, of:
- The result of any institutional disciplinary proceeding that arises from an allegation of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
- The institution's procedures for the accused and the victim to appeal the result of the institutional disciplinary proceeding, if such procedures are available;
- Any change to the result; and
- When such results become final.
For more information about sexual misconduct procedures, contact the Title IX Coordinator or review the University of Houston System Sexual Misconduct Policy.