These pages provide information on getting help with sexual assault situations; suggestions on how to proceed in reporting assaults; support resources and contact information; and also some specific information about alcohol and drugs in relation to sexual assault.
- Common Questions
- What To Do if You Are Raped
- Medical Care
- What to Expect In The Exam
- About Making A Report
- I didn’t resist physically – does that mean it isn’t rape?
People respond to an assault in different ways. Just because you didn’t resist physically doesn’t mean it wasn’t rape — in fact, many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent. Lack of consent can be express (saying “no”) or it can be implied from the circumstances (for example, if you were under the statutory age of consent, or if you had a mental defect, or if you were afraid to object because the perpetrator threatened you with serious physical injury).
- I used to date the person who assaulted me – does that mean it isn’t rape?
Rape can occur when the offender and the victim have a pre-existing relationship (sometimes called “date rape” or “acquaintance rape”), or even when the offender is the victim’s spouse. It does not matter whether the other person is an ex-boyfriend or a complete stranger, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex in the past. If it is nonconsensual this time, it is rape. (But be aware that a few states still have limitations on when spousal rape is a crime.)
- I don’t remember the assault – does that mean it isn’t rape?
Just because you don’t remember being assaulted doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen and that it wasn’t rape. Memory loss can result from the ingestion of GHB and other “rape drugs” and from excessive alcohol consumption. That said, without clear memories or physical evidence, it may not be possible to pursue prosecution (talk to your local crisis center or local police for guidance).
I was asleep or unconscious when it happened – does that mean it isn’t rape?
Rape can happen when the victim was unconscious or asleep. If you were asleep or unconscious, then you didn’t give consent. And if you didn’t give consent, then it is rape.
I was drunk or they were drunk - does that mean it isn't rape?
Alcohol and drugs are not an excuse – or an alibi. The key question is still: did you consent or not? Regardless of whether you were drunk or sober, if the sex is nonconsensual, it is rape. However, because each state has different definitions of “nonconsensual”, please contact your local center or local police if you have questions about this. (If you were so drunk or drugged that you passed out and were unable to consent, it was rape. Both people must be conscious and willing participants.)
I thought “no,” but didn’t say it. Is it still rape?
It depends on the circumstances. If you didn’t say no because you were legitimately scared for your life or safety, then it may be rape. Sometimes it isn’t safe to resist, physically or verbally — for example, when someone has a knife or gun to your head, or threatens you or your family if you say anything.
If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, or even if you aren’t sure, contact the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE) for free, confidential help, day or night.
What To Do If You Are Raped
- Go to a safe place
- Report the crime by notifying the police immediately. It can help you regain a sense of control.
- Call a friend, family member, or someone else you can trust to give you support.
- Preserve all physical evidence of the assault. Resist the urge to shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, or brush your teeth until you have had a medical exam. Even if you are unsure about making a police report or about whether you want the assailant prosecuted you should collect the evidence now and decide later. Physical evidence may deteriorate as time passes and may be lost forever.
- Keep all the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Put each item into a paper bag. Do not disturb the area where the assault occurred.
- Get medical care ASAP. Go to a hospital emergency department or a specialized forensic clinic that provides treatment for sexual assault victims. Many physical injuries may not be apparent immediately.
- Get a medical examination and discuss the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Having a medical examination is one way to preserve physical evidence of a sexual assault.
- If you suspect you were given a date rape drug, ask the hospital or clinic to take a urine sample. Some date rape drugs are more readily detected in urine than blood.
- Write down as much as you can remember about the assault, including a description of the assailant.
- Consider calling the Houston Area Women’s Center at its 24 Hour Sexual Assault Hotline at (713) 528-7273 or the Fort Bend County Women’s Center at its crisis hotline at (281) 342-HELP to seek the services of a victim’s advocate.
- Talk with a counselor who is trained to deal with rape victims. Here on campus you can contact CAPS. You can also find a counselor by contacting a local rape crisis center, a hotline, a counseling service, or RAINN, a national victim assistance organization at 1-800-656-HOPE.
- Call Equal Opportunity Services at the University of Houston at (713) 743-8835 if you need special arrangements to be made for housing or for class.
- Do not blame yourself. The rape was not your fault. You behavior did not cause it—the rapist did. Alcohol did not cause it—the rapist did.
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It is very important to have a thorough medical examination immediately after a sexual assault, even if you do not have any apparent physical injuries.
- 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 minor injuries. However, you should still be examined by a doctor or a nurse. You may be in shock, and you may have internal injuries of which you are not aware. 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 you have sustained so that if you decide to take any kind of legal action, such as participating in the prosecution of your assailant, you will have a record of what happened to you.
- A medical examination enables you to identify and preserve physical evidence of the assault.
During a medical examination, the doctor or nurse can look for and collect physical evidence of a sexual assault, such as semen, sperm, saliva samples and stains on your body or clothing. This evidence may be present immediately after the assault but will deteriorate as time passes.
- You can receive treatment to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
A sexual assault can place you at risk for getting STIs. A doctor or nurse can help you evaluate your risk of contracting various STIs 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 STIs.
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What To Expect In The Exam
- 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 you use contraception. You will also be asked about the sexual assault. The information you give, helps the examiner to conduct a thorough physical evaluation.
- The doctor will look for injuries and other signs of force. You may be asked to provide consent for photos if you have visible injuries. It is important if you do have physical injuries to take photos of those injuries because they may have healed by the time the assailant is prosecuted.
- The doctor may also take samples from your vagina, mouth, or rectum. Other evidence may also be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, or from the clothes you were wearing at the time of your assault.
- You may also be tested for Sexually Transmitted diseases.
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About Making A Report
- If you want to make a police report call the police. Call 911 or (713)743-3333. The sooner you make a report, the more likely the police will be able to collect important evidence. A prompt call can also strengthen the case for prosecution. However, even if some time has passed since you were sexually assaulted, it is never too late to make a police report or to seek help from other victim assistance agencies. Sometimes Advocates can accompany you when you make a police report.
- Some reasons to make a police report:
- To regain your personal sense of control and power.
- To document the crime that was committed against you
- To preserve evidence of the assault
- To protect others from being sexually assaulted—most rapists are repeat offenders. If you report your crime it may help the police to identify a pattern or an assailant who has attacked others.
- Other tips for making a police report
- If you remember more details after you make the initial police report, you can contact the police to provide them with the additional information. You may have been too upset to remember everything that took place immediately. Many victims recall more details in the days and weeks following the assault.
Making a Report to Campus Officials
- You can report the assault to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services. Under Title IX, the University must conduct its own investigation in certain circumstances.
- You can report the assault to the Dean of Students office if the assailant was a student. After an investigation, the University may decide to whether to take disciplinary action against the offender. Disciplinary actions imposed by the college may include suspension or expulsion.
Campus Anonymous and Confidential Resources
- If you are concerned about making a report because you want to stay anonymous there are a few options you may consider. You can report the incident anonymously online through MySafeCampus.com. Using this system, you can report the incident and your identity will not be revealed unless you reveal it.
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Thank you to Dr. Richard Baker and The Equal Opportunity Services Office for providing the content for this page.