Immediate Safety and Medical Issues
WHAT ARE MY IMMEDIATE OPTIONS IF I AM SEXUALLY ASSAULTED OR RAPED OR THINK I HAVE BEEN?
You can contact the SU Police at (512) 863-1944 (if the assault occurs on campus) or call 911 if you are off campus. You should understand that, if a crime has occurred, police officers in the State of Texas may choose to pursue an investigation without your consent. Therefore, reporting an assault to the police does not remain confidential. If you are not ready to call the police, you can make a confidential call to the Williamson County Crisis Center Rape Hotline (also known as the Hope Alliance) at (800) 460-SAFE (7233). Crisis counseling is available 24 hours a day on this hotline.
If you want to talk with someone on campus, you can contact an SU Counselor by calling (512) 863-1252 during business hours. You can contact an SU Nurse by calling (512) 863-1252 during business hours. You can contact the University Chaplain by calling (512) 863-1056 during business hours. Or you can contact a Counselor, a Nurse, or the Chaplain after hours through the SU Police at (512) 863-1944 and tell them you have an emergency and need to talk to one of the above.
WHAT ABOUT MEDICAL ATTENTION?
To ensure your physical well-being, you need immediate medical care. The above mentioned resources can help you get to the appropriate hospital for a medical and/or forensic exam (called a rape kit) performed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). It is recommended you go to a medical facility with access to SANE nurses. You can call Hope Alliance at (800) 460-SAFE (7233) to determine if additional local hospitals have a SANE nurse available.
ACCESSING SANE SERVICES IN WILLIAMSON COUNTY
There are several options for immediate medical treatment. We recommend that you first call Safe Place (512-267-7233). They have SANE Nurses on call who will meet you at either St. David’s - Georgetown or Seton Williamson County. Safe Place also has their own clinic in Austin, where they provide completely free and confidential SANE Nurse services. A SANE Nurse is a specially trained medical provider who can conduct a rape kit examination to preserve evidence should you decide to pursue criminal charges either now or in the future. The nurse will walk you through your options for seeking medical services, including pros and cons for each available option. Obtaining medical attention is highly encouraged to ensure that your injuries are treated and medication is provided to treat certain STDs, in addition to giving you information about HIV/AIDS and pregnancy prevention. If you want medical treatment only, you may utilize services at the University Health Center located on the second floor of the Prothro Center. Their contact number is 512-863-1252.
You are encouraged to not shower, bathe, douche, urinate, defecate, or brush your teeth prior to the SANE exam. The SANE Program also recommends that you stay in the clothes you are wearing, or (if you have already changed) bring clothes, sheets, or anything that was in contact with you during the assault with you in a paper bag (not plastic) to avoid contamination, or wrapped in a clean sheet. Please bring a change of clothes with you. However, if you have already changed or cleaned up, you can still go to the hospital.
DO I HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL?
No. You do not have to go to the hospital if you really don’t want to. But keep in mind that medical attention is necessary in order to be checked for internal injuries of which you may not even be aware, to be treated for certain STDs, and to receive information about HIV/AIDS and pregnancy. Also, a hospital is the only place at which you can have a rape kit done. It may be a good idea to have a rape kit done even if you think you won’t want to press charges – many people change their minds later and want to press charges after all. Preventative medication to protect you against STDs or pregnancy will typically be billed to you separately, as will treatment for injuries. If you are dealing with financial hardship regarding medication costs, please contact the Counseling and Health Center for assistance.
Even if you decide that you do not wish to have a rape kit done, you can still get checked for injuries, STDs, etc. You do not have to make a police report in order to get general medical attention.
CAN RAPE KIT BE DONE ANONYMOUSLY?
Yes, you can do this as a “Jane/John Doe” or any pseudonym, which means that the part of the examination focused on the collection of evidence will be paid for by the state. This gives you some time to decide if you want to press charges.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE HOSPITAL?
When you get to the hospital, in order to receive appropriate treatment, you need to tell them that you were sexually assaulted. It is normal to feel uncomfortable discussing your assault. You do not need to give all of the details of what happened right away, but you should tell the nurse what kinds of physical violations you experienced (i.e., oral, vaginal, or anal penetration). This helps them know where to look for injuries and evidence (if you have a rape kit done). You are allowed to ask any and all questions you have about procedures or medical concerns.
You have the right to be accompanied by a social worker, victims’ advocate, or a friend or relative of your choice during the exam. The hospital is required by law to call a victims’ advocate for you; if they don’t, you can call Hope Alliance at (800) 460-SAFE (7233). Alternatively, you also have the right to choose total privacy during the exam, so you can ask anyone other than necessary hospital personnel to leave.
In order to have physical evidence collected, you can file a report with the police or request a Jane/John Doe rape kit exam. A rape kit involves collecting evidence from the incident. It is collected by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), who will collect hair, fluid and tissue samples. A gynecological exam will be done, and you will also be treated for any injuries and certain STDs. Pregnancy and HIV/AIDS testing options can be discussed, and they will give you information on follow-up testing. For more detailed information please go to rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-recovery/rape-kit.
IS THERE A TIME LIMIT FOR HAVING A RAPE KIT DONE?
Yes - the sooner the better. Bodily fluids must be collected within 72 hours of the incident. Keep in mind that bathing, douching, brushing your teeth, or even just eating and drinking may eliminate crucial evidence. That is why it’s very important to be examined as soon as possible. Additionally, if you think you may have been drugged, a urine sample will be taken. Most date rape drugs leave your system quickly and therefore cannot be detected if you wait. Rophynol can be detected up to 72 hours later, but GHB is completely out of the body in 12 hours, and the half-life on Ketamine is only 2.5 hours.
WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE IS COLLECTED DURING A RAPE KIT?
The trained SANE nurse will collect the following evidence: oral swabs; head hair combings; pulled head hair samples; debris collection (such as dried blood, semen, saliva, hair, dirt, leaves, and fibers that may be on you); anal swabs; vaginal or penile swabs; pubic hair combings; pubic hair samples; fingernail scrapings; blood sample; and a saliva sample.
For women, the pelvic exam performed during a rape kit will be similar to the exam you have probably received from your own doctor. If you have never had a pelvic exam before, be sure to tell the nurse or doctor. For more detailed information, please go to rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-recovery/rape-kit.
DO I HAVE TO MAKE A POLICE REPORT IN ORDER TO GET A RAPE KIT DONE?
No. In the State of Texas, you must make a police report OR file as a Jane / John Doe in order to have the evidence collected. Even if you don’t think you want to press charges, it may be a good idea to have a rape kit done to collect evidence in case you change your mind in the future (many people do). You can’t get the evidence back once it’s gone, and it is very difficult to prosecute without physical evidence. Evidence from a rape kit is preserved for 2 years from the date of the exam.
IS ALL OF THIS CONFIDENTIAL?
Your medical exam is protected by the same laws that govern confidentiality of all health records. The rape kit and police reports are part of the investigation of evidence, and thus, if the case proceeds, will be part of the legal record. However, you can request that a pseudonym (i.e. Jane / John Doe) be used throughout the process and for any matters of public record.
WHO PAYS FOR A RAPE KIT?
If, within 96 hours of an assault, you file a report with a police agency, the state is required to pay for the rape kit. If you choose instead during that time to go to a hospital or physician without filing a police report, the state should also reimburse the hospital or doctor for the collection of evidence. If you have medical insurance, it is likely that you will only have to pay the typical co-pay for your policy to obtain STD testing and preventive medications prescribed. In addition, if you file a police report at a later time, you may be eligible for reimbursement by the State of Texas’ Victims’ Compensation Program for any related medical, emotional, or financial losses you suffered as a result of being the victim of a violent crime, even if the physical and emotional problems are not immediately apparent. For more information please go to http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/txstatutes/CR/1/56/A/56.06
CAN SOMEONE BE WITH ME DURING THE RAPE KIT EXAM?
Yes. Texas law specifically gives survivors of sexual assault the right and choice to have a trained advocate from the local crisis center in the room during a SANE exam. Often, the hospital or police will have already called the Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance) to send an advocate to the hospital. If not, you can call Hope Alliance at (800) 460-SAFE (7233) at any time. When the advocate arrives, he or she will introduce themselves and will provide support in any way possible. Survivors have the choice at all steps of the process regarding whether, and how, they would like an advocate involved.
If you are assaulted in Austin, you can request an advocate from SafePlace by calling (512) 267-SAFE (7233). Advocate services are free of charge.
HOW CAN A SEXUAL ASSAULT ADVOCATE BE OF HELP TO ME?
Sexual assault advocates—whether from Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance) or from Austin’s SafePlace—can:
- Inform you of your options and rights, and help access the legal system and the SANE program.
- Provide a person familiar with the process to answer questions.
- Provide crisis intervention and ease the process.
- Provide an advocate that doesn’t have an investigative role.
- Stay with you and your loved ones through different stages of the investigative process.
- Help with immediate arrangements following completion of the SANE exam as needed (i.e. emergency shelter, safety plans).
- Inform you of the follow-up resources available, including medical care, psychological counseling, and the Victims’ Compensation Program.
- Serve as a liaison to the court system (if your case goes to trial), help you prepare for court, attend hearings with you, and even help you to write your victim impact statement.
WHAT IF I’VE BEEN DRINKING/DOING DRUGS? WILL I GET IN TROUBLE IF I GO TO THE HOSPITAL OR TALK TO THE POLICE?
In most cases, no. The police and medical personnel should be more concerned about your assault than any activities you were involved in at the time. This also applies to reporting to the school. Please do not hesitate to get help just because you were drinking or using drugs. Please see the Good Samaritan Policy for more information.southwestern.edu/live/files/2038-good-samaritan-policy
HOW WOULD I KNOW IF I’VE BEEN DRUGGED?
The only way to know for sure if you’ve been drugged is to have someone get you to the hospital for testing as soon as possible. Date rape drugs are powerful sedatives or hallucinogens, such as Rohypnol (known as roofies, rope, roaches, R2), GHB, Ketamine, etc. These drugs can be easily slipped into drinks, and are generally tasteless, odorless, and colorless – so you don’t know they are there. They tend to take effect in about 15-25 minutes. Symptoms include sudden dizziness, incoherence, loss of balance, or losing sense of time or place. If your drink tastes slightly salty or metallic, or if it turns blue, it may be a sign of a drug. However, most people who are drugged don’t taste, smell or see the drug. All of these drugs produce similar results: blackout or incoherence for 2-8 hours.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I’VE BEEN DRUGGED?
First, call a friend – you will need someone’s help to think and act clearly, and to drive you to the hospital. If you have to go to the bathroom, collect urine in the cleanest jar or cup you can find and rubber band some plastic around the top. You will take this with you to the hospital. Drugs tend to break down in your system very quickly and collecting urine is a way of preserving the evidence. Rophynol can be detected up to 72 hours later, but GHB is completely out of the body in 12 hours, and the half-life on Ketamine is only 2.5 hours.
Remember, before you go to the hospital, try not to clean up in any way (bathing, douching, brushing your teeth, or changing clothes).
AFTER I LEAVE THE HOSPITAL, WHERE SHOULD I GO IF I DON’T FEEL SAFE GOING HOME?
An advocate from the Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance) can help you form a safety plan and decide where to go. If you don’t have a friend or relative that you feel comfortable staying with for the night, the Williamson County Crisis Center provides emergency shelter as needed in safe, confidential locations. Additionally, the Counseling and Health Center staff can arrange for you to have an alternate place on campus. To speak to a counselor after hours, contact SUPD and tell them you would like to have a confidential conversation with a counselor.
DO I NEED TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE IN THE WEEKS AFTER THE ASSAULT?
Yes. You should seek follow-up medical care six weeks after your initial visit, or sooner if your ER doctor so advises. This appointment is necessary for testing for STDs and pregnancy. If any STDs were transmitted during your assault, they will likely not be detected immediately afterward, so follow-up testing is essential. Your follow-up exam can be performed by your personal doctor, a women’s clinic, SU Health Center, or a free clinic. You may also ask your ER doctor to give you a referral.
In addition to the follow-up medical exam, please be aware that bruises may show up 6 to 21 days after the assault. If bruises appear, call the police investigators in your case so that pictures can be taken for evidence.
I’M TERRIFIED THAT I MAY HAVE GOTTEN PREGNANT DURING THE ASSAULT. WHAT IS EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION?
Emergency contraception, better known as the “morning-after pill”, is a safe and effective medication for the prevention of pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or rape. Sold under the brand names Plan B and Preven, it is essentially a high dose of the standard birth control pill.
Emergency contraception reduces the chances of getting pregnant following a sexual assault by about 75-89%, if taken within the first 72 hours after the assault. The sooner the pills are administered, the better the chances of preventing a pregnancy.
Please note that emergency contraception is not the same thing as an abortion. With emergency contraception, ovulation and implantation are prevented. If you are already pregnant, the morning-after pill will not affect you.
You can discuss where to obtain emergency contraception with the nurses or doctor in the ER, with your personal physician, with SU Health Services, or you can use the toll-free hotline (888) NOT-2-LATE (668-2528) or the website not-2-late.com.
WHO CAN I CALL IF I HAVE OTHER MEDICAL QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS?
Feel free to contact SU Health Center at (512) 863-1252, or the Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance) at (800) 460-SAFE (7233).
HELP FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT/ SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Where to go? Who to talk to? Please download our PDF for a comprehensive, printable manual on Help for Sexual Assault/ Sexual Misconduct.
This page was updated on Oct 27, 2017.