What to Expect if You Report a Sexual Assault
All reporting options include:
Advocates are first responders for victims of sexual assault.
Access medical care at any hospital regardless of where the assault occurred.
You will be offered prevention or treatment by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE).
The Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights Act and Crime Victims' Rights offer survivors specific rights during the medical examination process, collection of forensic evidence, during interviews and depositions, and in court. Survivors have these rights even if they choose not to participate in the criminal legal process. View our Survivor Bill of Rights Explainer to learn more.
Advocates are first responders for victims of sexual assault. They are a nonjudgmental, compassionate person to reach out to who can guide you through confidential and informed conversations about your situation. 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 are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In Douglas County, you can call the Women’s Center for Advancement’s (WCA) 24/7 confidential hotline at 402-345-7273. If you’re in Sarpy County, call Heartland Family Service’s (HFS) 24/7 confidential hotline at 800-523-3666. You can also connect with advocates through walk-ins or scheduling an in-person appointment at an agency that makes the most sense for you.
If you are admitted to a hospital, an advocate should be there to meet with you within 30 minutes (unless you decline to have an advocate contacted). They are there to support you. They can request a break for you or to speak privately with you if you want to. Also, if you want, advocates will provide you with the following: assistance in creating a personalized safety plan, follow-up information, information on your rights in the process, what to expect from medical staff and law enforcement and any additional information needed.
You can access medical care at any hospital regardless of where the assault occurred. If you go to the emergency room (ER) at a hospital and tell the hospital staff that you were sexually assaulted, they will call a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). You will be moved from the general waiting area into a private exam room as soon as possible.
If you can, it’s best to avoid showering, bathing, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes before arriving at the emergency room. If you are able, you can bring a change of clothes with you, but hospitals will provide you with clothing if you need it. If you must change your clothes before arriving at the emergency room, bring your other clothes to the hospital unwashed.
When the SANE arrives, they will ask you if you want to have a sexual assault forensic exam, commonly known as a “rape kit.” This exam will collect possible DNA evidence and provide you with important medical care and treatment. The DNA evidence is important if you ever want to report to law enforcement later on and pursue legal action against the perpetrator. The SANE will inform you of the purpose of the exam and all portions of the exam as it happens, and get signed consent from you.
Know that you can stop, pause or skip a step of the exam at any time. The exam can take several hours. You can be accompanied by a support person or advocate during the exam.
The evidence collected during the exam is referred to as a sexual assault kit. When the exam is complete, the sexual assault kit will be collected by law enforcement. If you chose a full or partial report, the kit will then be transferred to the crime lab and tested for DNA. If you chose to report anonymously, the sexual assault kit will be turned over to law enforcement from the hospital, but the kit will NOT include your name anywhere on the kit or paperwork unless you consent to it. A number that corresponds to the forensic kit will be assigned and provided to you.
It is important to note that while the forensic exam is free, there can be additional costs associated. Find out more about additional costs in the treatment section below.
During your sexual assault forensic exam, you will also be offered the following treatments and preventative measures:
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention
- HIV prevention (also known as nPEP therapy)
- Pregnancy prevention (emergency contraception will be provided if you request it and once it has been determined you were not pregnant before the assault)
- Injury evaluation and treatment
You may get charged additional fees if you had injuries evaluated or treated or received prescriptions for medications. There are victim compensation programs that can help cover some of the expenses. Your SANE will also provide you with information on free and low-cost follow-up health care with providers who are experienced in treating survivors of sexual assault.
If you receive an unexpected bill for your treatment or have questions about costs you could incur, contact your advocate to discuss your options. If you were not working with an advocate previously and want to speak with an advocate, you can contact:
- Douglas County: Women’s Center for Advancement’s (WCA) 24/7 confidential hotline at 402-345-7273.
- Sarpy County: Heartland Family Service’s (HFS) 24/7 confidential hotline at 800-523-3666.
Where Can You Seek Help?
Support is available to you.