First and foremost, know that this is not your fault. No one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted. It is your right to seek help and support at any time following an assault – from hospitals, law enforcement, and your local advocacy agency.
Sexual violence is NEVER your fault. If you are a victim of sexual violence of any kind, we are here to support you and connect you to resources. What’s most important is that you do what feels right for you. If you aren’t sure if something has happened to you, PAVSA advocates are available to you 24 hours a day to help you sort through your feelings and decide what you want to do. We can help you understand what has happened to you and assist you in navigating the resources and services that are available to you. We want you to know that we believe you and will support you every step of the way.
What is an advocate?
An advocate is someone who will emotionally support a victim/survivor of sexual assault. They will answer your questions and concerns as well as provide you with information and resources that are available to you. You have the right to make your own decisions; the advocate is there to assist you by sharing their knowledge, offering options and empowering you throughout the entire process of healing.
You have the right to seek medical treatment in an emergency room after a sexual assault and have an exam free of charge. You can have someone take you to an emergency room at one of our local hospitals or you can contact law enforcement at 911 and they will assist you in getting to an emergency room. If you need help you can contact the PAVSA crisis line and an advocate will assist you with accessing medical care.
If you go to an emergency room, the hospital will call PAVSA and an advocate and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will be contacted to come to the hospital. The SANE is a nurse specifically trained to work with individuals who have been sexually assaulted. While at the hospital, you will get the appropriate medical treatment and will be offered medication to treat any sexually transmitted diseases as well as Plan B to prevent pregnancy.
With your permission the SANE will collect evidence during the examination in case you want to report the assault to law enforcement. This is not something that you have to decide right away and reporting options will be discussed with you at the hospital. Gathering evidence ensures that evidence is collected and retained in case you do want to report the assault.
If you think you have been exploited
PAVSA offers services to individuals who have been commercially sexually exploited or trafficked. If you believe you have been sexually exploited or are in danger of being exploited, contact our crisis line at 218-726-1931 and ask to be connected with someone from PAVSA’s Trafficking Program.
It is your decision whether or not to report an act of sexual violence. You can go to the hospital for an exam after a sexual assault and you do not have to report to police. If you decide to report the sexual assault, a PAVSA advocate will support you throughout the process of making the report and will be available to answer any questions or concerns you may have about reporting. Law enforcement officers are trained to take these reports and will answer any questions you may have throughout the process.
If you do report, law enforcement will investigate your case and can make a referral to the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor will make a decision on how your case will proceed. Advocates will help you throughout this process and will be available to assist you every step of the way. Remember that YOU are in control of this process and can change your mind about reporting at any time. This can be a lengthy process and you have the right to be kept informed and to have any questions/concerns answered.
How to Check the Status of Your Case
Victim-survivors who previously reported a sexual assault to the police or to the hospital can inquire about the status of their case and whether or not their sexual assault evidence kit has been tested on the Betty Skye Line. The Betty Skye Line is a confidential information line available to victim-survivors to learn more about their case without having to connect with Law Enforcement immediately. The Betty Skye Line is available by phone or email at 218-730-5449 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PAVSA advocates are available to listen to you and provide assistance 24 hours a day through the PAVSA Crisis Line, 218-726-1931. PAVSA provides several services to help victim/survivors heal from the crisis and trauma associated with sexual violence including counseling and support groups. Advocates will assist you in understanding and accessing the services that best fit your experience.