Frequently Asked Questions about Sexual Assault

Answers to your questions about:

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Questions about going to the Hospital

  • You are safe at the hospital, it is totally confidential and no one will know you are there unless you want them to know.
  • It’s very important to take care of yourself as soon as possible following a sexual assault. Such an event can cause someone to experience shock or emotional/physical distancing from oneself that may lead to one not even realizing that she has been injured.
  • It’s important to have any injuries cared for so that healing can occur quickly
  • You may be at risk of getting pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted infection or disease
  • The nurse at the hospital can offer you some information and emotional support. She can give you resources to counselling services in your community; research demonstrates that individuals who start counselling treatment early after a trauma are less likely to develop long-term emotional difficulties.
  • Evidence such as bodily fluids, skin cells, hair particles, drugs in one’s urine are very time-sensitive to collect. These would easily be lost as time goes by after an assault. Such evidence can be a very important part of a court case if you chooses to report to the police in the following months.
  • If you have been at victim of sexual assault/violence you can contact the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Care Centre (DVSACC)  at 905-576-8711 x 3286
  • DVSACC is located at the Lakeridge Health Oshawa at 1 Hospital Court, Oshawa, Ontario
  • Not all hospitals have a Sexual Assault Care Centres. These centres are equipped with specially trained staff and evidence kits that are designed for sexual assaults. It is very important that you go to a Sexual Assault Care Centre.
  • The following hospitals in the  surrounding areas have Sexual Assault Care Centres: Scarborough Grace Hospital, Scarborough; Women’s College Hospital, Toronto; York Central Hospital, Richmond Hill

Go to the emergency triage desk and tell the triage nurse that you have been sexually assaulted and want to have an examination done by the Sexual Assault Care Centre nurse.

A specially trained nurse will guide you each step of the way. They won’t do anything without your permission and will keep your records confidential.

The nurse will ask you what happened and will document the events that took place.

You will be given the option to have an internal exam done and have the results documented.

The nurse will collect the following evidence:

  • Swabs that may contain semen, saliva, blood
  • Fingernail scraping (looking for skin cells of the perpetrator)
  • Pubic hair combing (looking for pubic hair belonging to the perpetrator)
  • Pictures and/or documentation of any tearing or bruising
  • Clothing collection (looking for hair or fibre materials belonging to the perpetrator)
  • Urine sample (if victim has been drugged, alcohol/blood level)
  • If you decide to give an evidence kit, you will have the choice to keep the evidence at the hospital (DVSACC) for 3-6 months.  Your evidence will be kept on file and frozen during this period and will be discarded at 6 months without notification.  You are welcome to call DVSACC  before the six months and request to keep your evidence longer allowing you time to decide if you would like to report to the police, in which case such evidence could be used in court proceedings to demonstrate that the perpetrator had contact with you.
  • If you are unsure if you want to proceed after the six months you can ask that your file to transferred to the police for safe keeping indefinitely.
  • Your Health Card.
  • Bring the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper bag if possible.
  • If you are wearing the clothing you were assaulted in then bring an extra change of clothes.
  • Bring a book or magazines as you may be waiting for some time.
  • If you feel comfortable bring a supportive friend or request accompaniment from your local Rape Crisis Centre.

Bring a urine sample with you or a sample of your beverage to be tested for the suspected drug. The drug will be out of your system with your first morning’s urination following consumption.

  • Preventative medication for HIV
  • The morning after pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy
  • Preventative medication for sexually transmitted infections
  • Guidance to get follow-up blood work for HIV testing
  • Often times the nurse and doctor are on call and may need to come in from another location. Depending on how busy the hospital is you may have to wait for a number of hours before your examination. Please don’t let this discourage you, you may want to bring a book, a friend, or an activity to help distract you and pass the time.

Absolutely! Going to the hospital is a very difficult and courageous step to take following a sexual assault. We highly recommend that you take a supportive friend or request accompaniment from a trained volunteer or counsellor from your local rape crisis centre.


 

What to expect on a Crisis Line call

Anyone that has experienced any form of sexual/sexualized violence can access the crisis line. Sexual/sexualized violence includes, but is not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, incest, childhood sexual assault/abuse, sexual exploitation and human trafficking.  Anyone that is a support person for a survivor of sexual/sexualized violence can also call the crisis line. Lastly, the crisis line can be used to get information about the centre and its services.

The crisis line is completely confidential.

There is a duty to report if it is stated that any child abuse and or neglect, assault of a person under 16 years of age, is occurring or if there is threat of harm to yourself or others that would result in death.

When you call, you will be connected with an answering service that will connect you with a crisis line worker. The crisis line worker can offer emotional support, referrals, and resources to assist/support you.

That is perfectly okay. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the words to speak, and your crisis line worker is there to support and work with you if you do not know initially what to say. You can say ‘I don’t know what to say’ or ‘I’m at a loss for words/can’t find the words’ or ‘This is difficult for me/scary for me’, and we’ll go from there. Remember to take deep breaths.

There is not a minimum of information that you have to give. You are free to share whatever information you feel comfortable with sharing.

Yes! The crisis line is a safe place; free from judgement and discrimination.

There is no limit for the time it takes to speak with a crisis line worker; however, we try to keep calls to about an hour or so. If more support is needed then crisis line workers are able to stay on the line for longer to assist you.

There is no limit in how often one can call the crisis line.  If you feel that you need ongoing support, you can ask your crisis line worker for resources such as counselling services, which could best support you on an ongoing basis.

Crisis line workers must attend an intensive 10 week crisis line training course which covers learning about sexual/sexualized violence, how to support survivors of sexual violence, grounding and stabilization techniques, as well as learning about other community agencies and resources.

The crisis line worker will do a risk assessment, provide you with emotional support, and help you to create a safety plan.  If the crisis line worker assesses that you are still at risk of suicide, then we have an obligation to call 911 to ensure your safety. The crisis line worker will stay on the line with you until the appropriate services arrive.

If you have a complaint, please contact Durham Rape Crisis Centre’s Executive Director Donna Graham at donna@drcc.ca or 905-444-9672 extension 24


 

Questions about reporting

Yes you can still report the assault.  It’s important to remember that washing can destroy potential evidence.

If you know a child has been abused or assaulted, or if you suspect that a child is currently in danger you have a legal obligation to inform the appropriate authorities.

You have the right to request the gender of the officer that attends your initial complaint and the right to request a SARO (Sexual Assault Response Officer) who is more knowledgeable about sexual assault. However, you are NOT guaranteed affiliation with one of these officers as this option is subject to their availability.

You may feel that you have no legal options available to you due the length of time that may have passed. However this is not the case. There is no statute of limitations on Sexual Assault.

There is no required time limit for reporting, although sooner is better than later when considering the collection of evidence.