After sexual violence, survivors have choices about how to proceed. There is no ONE right way to heal, recover, or obtain closure. And remember: sexual violence is NEVER the survivor's fault.
Immediately following an incident it is important to take the following steps as soon as possible to ensure your physical well-being and in the event that you may want to pursue a criminal investigation.
Consider the following suggestions:
- If you are in danger:
- On campus: call the AU Police emergency line: 202-885-3636.
- Off campus: call 911.
- If you are not in immediate danger, contact someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or AU staff member. Be aware some staff members, such as resident assistants (RAs), may be required to report information you disclose.
- Seek medical attention even if you are not seeking evidence collection. It is important to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and to treat possible internal injury. ( See drop down list below for more information).
- Consider contacting a 24/7 hotline:
- Collegiate Assistance Program: 1-855-678-8679
- Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network (RAINN) anonymous chat
- RAINN hotline: 1-800-656-4673
For assistance navigating any part of this process, schedule confidential meeting with one of AU's victim advocates by calling 202-885-7070 or emailing OASIS@american.edu.
If you may want to pursue a criminal case in the future, it is important to have evidence collected by a specially credentialed nurse. This process is known as “Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner” exam, or SANE exam.
To preserve evidence, it is best not to shower, bathe, douche, brush your teeth etc. It is best to have evidence collected as soon as possible following an assault, but exams are conducted up to 96 hours from the time at which the incident occurred. SANE programs provide free medical examinations to collect/preserve evidence.
As part of this service, the SANE Program provides free STDs/HIV testing and prophylactic treatment for STDs/HIV and pregnancy. SANE exams are conducted in the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred, and there is only ONE location for evidence collection per jurisdiction (city).
The DC SANE program is at Washington Hospital Center (WHC) at 110 Irving Street, NW DC, 20010. To contact the DC SANE program and notify them that you need an exam, call 800-641-4028. The office is open 24/7 and can help coordinate a free ride to the hospital. These services are free and confidential. At the hospital, you may ask to speak to a Metropolitan Police Officer and make a report on site, but you are not required to do so.
If you were not assaulted in the District of Columbia but may want to pursue criminal charges, it is important to find the SANE program in your jurisdiction. The easiest way to obtain this information is to Google “Forensic Exam,” Victim Services” and the name of the city in which the incident occurred.
Once you have addressed any immediate medical concerns, it is a good idea to set up some follow-up care. Follow up care looks different for everyone, because everyone’s needs are unique.The most important factor in determining what kind care and supports you may need is information.
After trauma especially, it can be difficult to make decisions--especially if you don’t know what resources are available.
An advocacy meeting does not result in an official report to the school or the police. When you arrive for your appointment, an advocate will review information about advocacy and confidentiality, while also helping you to determine what types of support or action make sense for you.
In addition to providing emotional support, a campus advocate can assist in the following concrete ways:
- Scheduling free STI screening at the Health Center
- Accessing academic support (extensions, rescheduling exams, excusing absences) without making an official report to the school
- Explaining process and policy re: Title IX, No Contact Orders, Campus Barrings, and Civil Protective Orders. Facilitating an official report to the school by coordinating with the Title IX Office.
- At your request, an advocate can attend any Title IX meeting with you, schedule permitting.
- Connecting you to an AU Police Officer who can explain how to report a crime
- Referrals to counseling and therapy Referrals to free legal resources
When deciding whether or not to report an incidence of sexual violence, interpersonal violence, or stalking, there are a three main systems at play or routes to pursue:
- The University system
- The Criminal Justice System
- The Civil System.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each system. We recommend making an appointment with a confidential advocate to discuss these options. Call us at 202-885-7070 or email OASIS@american.edu.