FAQs + Definitions
What do I do if someone I care about was sexually assaulted?
It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially when that person is a family member, friend or loved one. Learn More
How do I talk to a romantic partner about sexual assault?
Talking to a romantic partner about sexual assault can be difficult – whether the assault happened recently or decades in the past, and where you just started dating or have been together for many years. Learn More
How do I handle an unsupportive reaction from a loved one?
The person you have told may not be providing the support you need but remember that you are not alone. There is local and national support for you. Learn More
How do I tell someone about my assault?
Talking about sexual assault is never easy, but if you do choose to tell someone about your experiences, it can be helpful to have a plan about how you would like to do it. Learn More
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Advocates are trained professionals who provide victims of trauma with confidential support. Advocates can provide victims with information, emotional support and referrals to other resources. They can walk you through the various systems you may encounter, including the criminal justice system, legal system, medical system, child protection and safety system, and health and human services. Advocates may also be called victim advocates, confidential advocates or victim service providers. If you choose a full law enforcement report, you may be contacted by another kind of advocate who works for the county’s victim assistance program, sometimes called a victim/witness coordinator or a victim/witness specialist. This court-based advocate will provide you with resources and help you navigate the criminal justice process but is not confidential.
DNA is the material found in cells that determines characteristics such as eye, hair and skin color. Each person’s DNA is different, except for identical twins. This means that DNA can be used to accurately identify a perpetrator, similar to the way we use fingerprints. DNA evidence can be collected from blood, saliva, sweat, urine, skin tissue and semen. That’s why it’s important to try to avoid bathing, cleaning your fingernails or urinating until after a sexual assault forensic exam has been performed.
CODIS stands for Combined DNA Index System. It is a state and national database that houses DNA from individuals related to crimes. If an offender’s DNA is found by a crime lab when they are processing a Sexual Assault Kit (SAK), it will typically be entered into CODIS.
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent, and it does not have to be verbal. You can give consent by communicating verbally or physically, or a combination of both. Giving consent to a sexual activity does not mean that you consent to other sexual acts nor does it mean you consent to the same sexual activity in the future. You can always take back or reverse consent for any reason. You cannot give consent if you were forced, received threats of force, or coerced into sexual activity. You cannot give consent if you were incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol. You cannot give consent if you are under 16 years of age in the state of Nebraska.
Agencies, advocates or services (e.g. a hotline) identified as confidential cannot share any information a client discloses to them. Exceptions to confidentiality are rare, but typically include situations where someone is making threats to harm themselves or others.
Sexual Assault Forensic Exam
A sexual assault forensic exam is a medical exam conducted by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to collect possible DNA evidence or other evidence from the victim’s body, clothes and other personal belongings after a sexual assault. The exam gives the victim the option to safely store DNA evidence or other evidence if they ever want to report the assault to law enforcement and pursue legal action against the perpetrator. The exam also includes additional important medical care and treatment for the victim, such as care for sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraception for pregnancy, and follow-up resources.
Sexual Assault Kit
A Sexual Assault Kit (SAK), also known as a rape kit, is evidence collected by a SANE during a sexual assault forensic exam. It typically includes evidence from the areas of the victim’s body that were part of the sexual assault and that may have the suspect’s sperm, saliva or hair on it. The kit may also include clothing the victim was wearing and other items.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a Registered Nurse who has received special training so that they can provide comprehensive care to sexual assault victims. In addition, they are able to conduct a sexual assault forensic exam and may provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a bacterial or viral infection passed from one person to another through vaginal, anal or oral contact. STIs can be transmitted whether this contact was consensual or not. STIs can infect a person of any age or gender. Although the signs may vary, when an STI starts showing symptoms, it’s called a sexually transmitted disease, or STD.