Make sure you are in a safe environment. If you believe you are still in danger, call 911. Once you’re out of physical danger, contact someone you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, teacher, school counselor, friend’s parent, doctor or religious leader.
If you’re not sure what to do next, call us for advice, support and help. We have trained rape crisis hotline staff and volunteers available 24/7 to answer your questions, help you explore options, and support you through the recovery process. You can reach us at 972-641-RAPE (7273).
If you are under 18, tell a trusted adult. It’s important to be aware that if you disclose your identity and location and that you are being harmed, the person you tell may be required by state law to alert authorities. If you do not have any trusted adults in your life or wish to talk confidentially for now, you can call the Child Help hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
If you are thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.
If you have already taken steps to harm yourself or feel that you can’t stop yourself from committing suicide, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
I believe I was sexually assaulted/raped. What are my options?
You have several options, and can sometimes combine your options depending on what you feel is best for your safety. If you are not safe and/or are injured and need urgent medical attention, call 911. Otherwise, you can transport yourself (or a friend or family member can transport you) to a hospital.
If you would like any potential evidence to be gathered from your body, go to a hospital to undergo a medical forensic exam (also called a ‘rape kit’). If you decide to undergo a medical exam, make every effort to save anything that might contain the perpetrator’s DNA. Therefore, do your best not to do the following:
- Bathe or shower
- Eat or drink
- Use the bathroom
- Brush your teeth or use mouthwash
- Change clothes
- Comb hair
- Clean up the crime scene
- Move anything the offender may have touched
Even if you have not yet decided to report the crime, receiving a forensic medical exam and keeping the evidence safe from damage will improve the chances that the police can access and test the stored evidence at a later date.
If you do not want to undergo a forensic medical exam, we recommend you obtain a general wellness exam from your medical care provider in order to ensure there are no injuries.
If you do not want to undergo a forensic medical exam OR obtain a wellness exam, you do not have to. If you are an adult, you may report the assault to the police, but you do not have to. We encourage you to call our hotline to learn more about your options. A DARCC staff person or Advocate can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option and help you choose what is best for you.
Where can I go to get a medical forensic exam (‘rape kit’)?
There are currently three hospitals in the city of Dallas equipped to offer medical forensic exams: THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Parkland, and Methodist Dallas. DARCC dispatches Advocates to THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas only at this time. Please also refer to “What is an advocate and how are they different from other people involved in my case?”). Please note that in the state of Texas, if a victim would like to make a police report, she/he has up to 120 hours from the time the assault occurred for a medical forensic exam to be completed. If the assault occurred more than 120 hours ago, a forensic exam cannot be completed but the crime may still be reported. We would still encourage you to obtain, at a minimum, a wellness exam, to ensure that you have not sustained any injuries.
What will happen when I get to the hospital?
You will meet with a Triage Nurse in the emergency room. You may find it difficult to explain your needs to the nurse. Although you do not need to give the nurse all the details of the assault, you will have to say you were sexually assaulted in order to receive the proper treatment. This will activate a system of processes to ensure that you are provided with specific services. The hospital will call our hotline and a DARCC advocate will be dispatched to meet you at the hospital. You will be taken to a triage room and medically stabilized before the medical forensic exam can take place.
What is an advocate and how are they different from other people involved in my case?
A DARCC advocate is a volunteer who has a special role different from a counselor, law enforcement and medical personnel. A DARCC advocate’s purpose is to provide emotional support to the victim, as well as information about resources, while the victim is in the hospital setting.
Advocates are available for court and law enforcement accompaniment upon request, and are automatically dispatched when a victim presents in the emergency room at THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. Advocates also serve as a liaison, helping the victim and anyone who may have come with her/him understand the medical and legal processes that occur while the victim is in the hospital setting. Advocates play a crucial role in helping victims and their loved ones to deal more effectively with the fear and confusion that results from sexual assault trauma. Advocates are there to answer any questions that the victim and his/her companions may have about the forensic exam, role of medical staff and law enforcement, their feelings about the assault, and most of all to assure victims and their loved ones that the sexual assault was not the victim’s fault. DARCC’s Advocates value and maintain the victim’s privacy and confidentiality except if they are informed of potential threat to the life of the victim or others and/or if they have reason to believe that a child, a disabled person or an elderly person is being abused and/or harmed. In such cases, the advocate is obligated by law to report the information to the appropriate authorities.
What is a medical forensic exam? Is that the same as a rape kit?
A medical forensic exam is also sometimes referred to as a rape kit. The exam is a physical exam designed to gather samples which may contain evidence. At THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, medical forensic exams are completed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). A DARCC Advocate will be dispatched to be available to you for emotional support during the hospital visit. The Advocate can be present with you during the exam if you would like. The SANE may ask to take your clothing for evidence, take pictures of any injuries, and gather samples which may contain evidence (oral swabs, collection of any debris such as dirt, leaves, or fibers, fingernail scrapings, vaginal/penile/anal swabs, and other samples). You may consent or not to consent to any portion of the exam if you choose. Depending on the nature of the assault, the SANE may conduct a pelvic exam on female patients.
How long will the medical forensic exam take? Will I have to wait at the hospital?
Every exam is different because every patient is different, and therefore the length of the wait and exam will vary. Because of the nature of the emergency room setting, you may have to wait to receive care. However, at THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas a DARCC advocate will be immediately dispatched to be with you while you are at the hospital to provide you with emotional support.
What if I want evidence gathered, but I don’t want to make a police report, or haven’t decided if I want to report yet?
If you are an adult, you do not necessarily have to report the assault at all. Some people wait to report the assault later, and some people never report. But if you would like evidence gathered and you’re still not sure if reporting is right for you, the law allows adult sexual assault victims to obtain a medical forensic exam without making a police report if that is what you would prefer. This is also called a “non-report” exam. If the victim would not like to make a police report, the medical forensic exam will be completed up to 96 hours after the time of the assault. Evidence collected without an accompanying police report will be packaged and sent to the Department of Public
Safety (DPS) and stored for a minimum of two years, which provides you with time to consider your decision. DPS will pay the hospital for the exam and seek reimbursement through the Office of Attorney General (OAG)’s Crime Victims Compensation Program. If the victim would like to make a police report, she/he has up to 120 hours from the time the assault occurred for a medical forensic exam to be completed. If the assault occurred more than 120 hours ago, a forensic exam cannot be completed but the crime may still be reported.
I am an undocumented resident, and I am afraid if I report and/or go to the hospital that I will be deported.