A Guide for Victims of Sexual Assault
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) seeks to provide a safe environment for all of its students, faculty, and staff. Sexual misconduct of any form is a violation of an individual's rights, is emotionally and physically traumatic, and is a violation of the UAB Non-Academic Student Code of Conduct. It is our goal to ensure that cases of sexual assault are dealt with appropriately and that all victims receive support and care. Sexual assault affects everyone, so this information is placed here so that you may reference it if needed. All members of the UAB community are encouraged to report any incident of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or sexual harassment (see UAB Equal Opportunity and Discriminatory Harassment Policy).
As you begin the healing process, there are two points to remember—
· You do have choices.
· There are caring people who can help you.
What is Sexual Assault?
There are many legal definitions that vary from state to state. However, if anyone has committed a sexual act against you without your consent, you have been assaulted. (A person must be 16 years old or older to give legal consent.) The offense does not have to be committed by a stranger for it to be sexual assault or rape. Over 75% of rapes are committed by people who are known to the victim.
If you are Sexually Assaulted
· Go to a safe place.
· Seek prompt medical attention. A medical exam will provide necessary medical treatment and collect important evidence which could aid in criminal prosecution. A medical exam also helps to determine the risk of sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.
· Try to preserve all physical evidence. Do not bathe, douche, use the toilet, or change clothing.
· If oral contact took place, do not eat, drink liquids, smoke, or brush your teeth.
· Contact the police. On- or off-campus, call 911.
· Contact a friend, family member, or other support person to be with you.
In order to leave options open for criminal prosecution, it is recommended that you seek medical treatment and report the incident to the police. The important thing to note is that YOU HAVE THE CHOICE to pursue one or both of these options. The following information is outlined to help guide you through these procedures in case you make the decision to get medical treatment or report the incident to the police.
It is important to seek immediate and follow-up medical attention for sexual assault to determine the presence of physical injury, sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnancy, as well as obtain evidence to assist in criminal prosecution if you choose. Physical evidence should be collected immediately, ideally within the first 24 hours. However, it may be collected up to 72 hours after an assault.
Immediate Emergency Service
The specialized rape examination should be conducted within 72 hours of the assault. There are two service options for this exam: a hospital emergency room or the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) facility.
If you choose to go to a hospital emergency room:
The Emergency Room (ER) is an ideal choice if you are not medically stable, which includes being pregnant. If you are medically stable, the ER staff will send you to the SANE facility. In the ER, a nurse will conduct the majority of the exam, with a doctor conducting the pelvic exam. A SANE-trained nurse from the Crisis Center may be called to conduct the exam along with a Rape Response Advocate to provide emotional support for you. Hospital personnel will call Rape Response (323-7273) for you at your request. If you go to the ER, you will get a bill for the services provided. Alabama Crime Victims Compensation Commission (ACVCC) is a program designed to help cover expenses incurred by those who have been sexually assaulted (and victims of other violent crimes). You may fill out the appropriate ACVCC forms to be reimbursed for this cost.
If you choose to contact the SANE facility:
The SANE facility is an immediate, confidential, no-cost service in the Birmingham area. To get service from the SANE program, call Rape Response at 323-7273 to inform them that you need to come to the facility, and they will provide you with directions. They are available 24 hours a day/7 days a week. There will be no waiting in a waiting room, and the services are provided by a nurse who has specialized training in the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors. The forensic exam conducted at the SANE facility is paid by ACVCC. A police report is not required for this exam to be conducted.
The process can feel invasive, but it is recommended to evaluate your physical condition, as well as collect evidence that may be used in a criminal prosecution if you choose to report. If you choose not to report, the evidence can be held for a minimum of 30 days to give you time to evaluate what you would like to do.
The UAB Police are available to transport sexual assault victims to the hospital or the SANE facility if a friend or relative is not available. To arrange transportation, call the UAB Police dispatcher and indicate your need for emergency assistance (934-3535). If the incident occured off-campus, the local police department will provide transportation for you.