This section includes resources on finding support, advocating as a survivor, and caring for yourself.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you have options.
Your safety and care come first
If you have been sexually assaulted and are looking for guidance, please consider the following:
- Make sure you are in a safe place.
- Contact a friend or family member you trust, or call the local sexual assault program center hotline.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Most of all, know this is not your fault.
Help is available
Healing after a sexual assault can take a long time, and you may be wondering whether there is anyone who can help. Many survivors have found it helpful to talk to rape crisis counselors/sexual assault advocates. Counselors and advocates offer support regarding your safety, emotional and physical care, and information to help you – and your friends and family – cope with the aftermath of an assault.
Rape crisis centers are on call 24-hours a day waiting to help you.
- You can find the telephone numbers of your local center here.
- Get Help Now: What to do if you are raped in Minnesota, http://rapehelpmn.org/
- You may also call the 24-hour National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, at 1-800-656-HOPE. By calling this number you will be automatically connected to your closest rape crisis center.
You may not know right now whether you will contact the police. But in case you later decide to, preserving and collecting the evidence available immediately after the assault is crucial. The best ways to preserve evidence include the following recommendations:
- As soon as possible, seek medical attention at a facility that offers sexual assault exams, such as your local hospital emergency department. An examination provides immediate medical care by treating injuries; and it serves as a means of collecting evidence through a medical forensic exam, an examination of a sexual assault patient by a health care provider (most often a nurse) who has specialized education and clinical experience in the collection of forensic evidence and treatment of sexual assault patients. “Forensic” means the scientific tests or techniques used in collecting evidence of a crime.
- As much as you might want to change your clothes, shower, bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, use the toilet, or clean up in any way, any of these will reduce the likelihood of collecting important evidence of the sexual assault. If possible, consider refraining from “cleaning-up” before seeking a medical forensic exam.
Medical forensic exams are covered by medical privacy laws. In Minnesota, you can complete the evidence collection process even if you are unsure about reporting the incident to law enforcement. A police report is not required to complete a medical forensic exam; a decision to report to police can be made at a later time. Also, the county is obligated to pay for all evidence collection in a sexual assault evidence exam.
In 1983, the Minnesota Legislature passed the Minnesota Crime Victim Bill of Rights. An advocate from a rape crisis center, helpline, or advocacy program in your community can assist you in exercising these rights.
You have the RIGHT to be notified of:
- Plea agreements
- Changes in court schedules, date, time, and place of plea hearings and sentencing
- Release of offender from prison/institution
- Victim rights
You have the RIGHT to participate in prosecution:
- Right to inform court of impact of crime at the time of sentencing
- Right to have input in pre-trial diversion program
- Right to object to plea bargain
- Right to request a speedy trial
- Right to bring a supportive person to all hearings
- Right to attend plea hearing
- Right to attend sentencing
- Right to give written objections to sentence
You have the RIGHT to protection from harm:
- Threatening or tampering with a witness is against Minnesota law
- Witnesses do not have to give their addresses in court
- Victims have the right to a secure waiting room during court
- Employers may not discipline or dismiss victims or witnesses who are called to testify in court
You have the RIGHT to apply for financial assistance:
- Victims may be eligible for financial assistance from the state or from the offender, if they have suffered economic loss.