Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Assault
Note: these questions and answers are primarily focused on able adults, with some information regarding minors as victims. Please call our hotline or consult your local law enforcement for additional information about requirements for reporting child and disabled/elder abuse and neglect.
Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. Women, men, people between or outside of the gender binary; people who are able-bodied or differently able; young children, adults, or elderly; people who may be developmentally delayed or suffering from mental illness; strong or weak; sex workers; under the influence of legal or illegal substances or sober; dressed conservatively or otherwise; married, partnered, single or celibate; heterosexual, homosexual, or somewhere in between; documented or undocumented; homeless or housed. Sexual violence does not discriminate. All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and no one has the right to control your body but you. Nothing justifies sexual assault.
Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions people ask us about sexual assault. Please view our Frequently Asked Questions for a detailed list of questions and answers.
Q. Was I raped?
A. If you believe that you have been raped or sexually assaulted please call our hotline 972-641-RAPE (7273) to discuss options for care and support. If you’d like to report the assault to the police, call 911. There are three considerations used to determine whether or not a sexual act is consensual or a crime. “Consensual” means that both people are old enough to consent, have the capacity to consent, and agreed to the sexual contact. You and your partner must be old enough, awake, lucid, and able to communicate in order to consent. However, you do not have to be sure that what happened to you meets the legal definition of sexual assault in order to obtain services. If you are not sure what happened is rape and/or are not sure what to do next, we encourage you to call the hotline to discuss options for care and support.
Q. What if one or both of us was under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
A. Alcohol and drugs are not an excuse – or an alibi. States define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. You have to be awake, lucid, and able to communicate in order to consent. Those with diminished capacity — including people who have been drugged or are unconscious — do not have the legal ability to agree to have sex. Ingesting such a quantity of any substance that it affects your decision making process is not advisable for a number of health related reasons. We encourage you to call us and find out more about the laws in our state.
Q. If I am a minor, am I required to tell my parents that I was sexually assaulted or get their permission to receive counseling at DARCC?
A. While you are not required to tell your parents about the sexual assault, DARCC would be required by the state of Texas to report the assault to the proper authorities, who would in turn be required to inform your parents. You are not required to get permission from your parents in order to receive counseling services, however we recommend you tell your intake counselor if you are concerned about this so we might determine whether you need additional services.
Q. If I am a college student and go to the hospital for medical care following a sexual assault, will my parents find out?
A. If you are legally an adult, neither the hospital nor DARCC would notify your parents about the assault. However, if you are on your parents’ insurance, they would receive a statement from the hospital and insurance company which would state you were treated in the emergency room. Your school may have a requirement in place to notify your parents (check your individual school for details). DARCC advocates and staff are available to discuss your concerns about parental notification.
Q. Are services confidential?
A. All services at Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center are confidential. DARCC follows the guidelines of mandated reporting laws, which require us to make reports to the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services about suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, and the abuse or neglect of a disabled adult or elderly person. Clients of any age should be aware that we are also required to make reports to law enforcement about disclosures of suicidal or homicidal intent. At DARCC we follow HIPAA requirements to protect the privacy of those we serve.