Sexual Assault Questions
- 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 your 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 style of dress did not cause what happened. Alcohol did not cause what happened. Only the person who commits an assault causes an assault.
- Seek medical care and a sexual assault 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 at a hospital.
- 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 person with you for support. Contact the UHV Confidential Advisor if you want her to accompany you to the emergency room. Call (361)570-4135 or toll free (855)848-4279 and ask for Elena Torres for sexual assault exam information.
- 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. Find additional Houston-area resources.
- Regardless of your location, you can also find additional resources by calling RAINN, a national victim assistance organization at (800)656-HOPE.
- Call a Title IX Coordinator. Sexual assault is a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy. The Title IX Coordinators can talk with you about your rights and resources and help you access campus housing, academic or safety services. These services are available with or without a formal complaint. Call the Title IX Coordinator at (361)570-4835 to request special arrangements for housing or classroom settings or to discuss other 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 do not have any visible injuries. Contact the UHV Counseling Center (361)570-4135 for a staff member certified to accompany you on a sexual assault exam. You DO NOT have to file a police report to get medical attention or a sexual assault exam at a hospital in the state of Texas. You only have up to 120 hours for the hospital to collect potential DNA or other forensic evidence from the assault.
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. However, you should still be examined by a doctor or a SANE Nurse (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner). You may be in shock, and you may have internal injuries or possible infections for 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 so 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 infections 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 infections. You can also receive information on emergency contraception for the prevention of pregnancy.
A medical exam enables you to identify and preserve physical evidence of the assault.
During a hospital sexual assault exam, the doctor or nurse can look for and collect physical evidence such as semen, sperm, saliva 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 event that caused your need for an exam. The information you give helps the examiner conduct a thorough physical evaluation.
- The doctor or nurse will look for injuries. 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 or nurse 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.
- The doctor or nurse may also may also test and treat 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 do not remain in your system for very long.
- You can discuss options for emergency contraception.
Under Texas state law, survivors of sexual assault cannot be required to pay for forensic medical examination (evidence-collection). See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 56.065(h)(2). You will be responsible for medical treatment costs. 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. Training includes how to conduct an investigation and hearing process that promotes the safety of involved parties and accountability.
- Provide the accuser and the accused with the same opportunities to have others present during any disciplinary proceeding, including the opportunity to have an advisor of their choice at any related meeting or proceeding. There may be restrictions on the extent to which the advisor may participate in the proceedings, as long as the restrictions apply equally to both parties.
- Give simultaneous written notification to both the accuser and the accused of:
- The result of any disciplinary proceeding from an allegation of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- The procedures to appeal the result of the disciplinary proceeding.
- Any change to the outcome.
- When the outcome becomes final.
Important evidence or records can include but are not limited to:
Sexual Assault Exam Report: If you get a forensic sexual assault exam, you can keep a copy of the report as part of your medical records.
Physical Items: If possible, request professional help to collect physical evidence (e.g. police forensics at the scene or sexual assault nurse examiner at a hospital for evidence on your body). If you are not ready to involve professionals, put clothing, bedding and any objects that could include bodily fluids in separate paper bags in a cardboard box (or you can use separate cardboard boxes if you do not have paper bags).
Communication History: Consider communications before, during and after the event (e.g., text messages, emails, social media posts). Communications may include possible witness information, information about the event or admissions of responsibility after-the-fact. Sometimes screenshots do not include date/time information. Consider making a screen-recorded video of text/message history to show the order and timing.
Photographs: If you are not able to get a sexual assault forensic exam and decide to photograph personal injuries yourself, check whether you are identifiable in the photos. Also consider showing the injuries to someone so that they can verify the timing of the injuries.
Witness List: Consider who may have witnessed the event (including people who may have overheard the event from another room) and keep a list of their names and contact information.
Journals and other records: Any physical or online records that could include details of the event such as journals, calendars, note applications, etc.
Always make a backup. Make sure any electronic content, documents or photographs are stored in a safe location that will not be lost if your device is damaged, stolen or upgraded. Keep a copy for your own records if you turn in the originals.