Read on for information on what to do if you have recently been sexually assault or are experiencing relationship abuse or stalking.
React: Sexual Assault
A traumatic experience can block a victim’s ability to react in the moments soon after the incident occurs. Below are steps to take if you believe or suspect that you have been sexually assaulted.
- Get to a safe place. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
- If you know you want to report the assault to law enforcement, do so immediately. Reporting the crime can help you regain a sense of personal power and control and can also help to ensure the safety of other potential victims. You can call the police department in the city the assault occurred or go to an emergency department specializing in post-assault care if the incident occurred within the last five days. If you have any questions about what to do or where to go, contact RISE or the MOCSA crisis line at (816) 531-0233 or (913) 642-0233 for more information.
- If you are unsure about reporting the incident to police, it may be helpful to have a forensic exam if you decide at a later date you would like to file a police report. Even if you do not want to file a police report, you should still get checked out.
- Call a friend, a family member, or someone else you trust and ask them to stay with you.
- Do not shower, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth. Save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag. Do not use plastic bags. Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred. Preserve all physical evidence of the assault.
- Go to a hospital emergency department or a specialized forensic clinic that provides medical care for sexual assault victims. Those living on campus or near UMKC are encouraged to go to Saint Luke’s Hospital (link) or Truman Medical Center (link) for medical care and evidence collection 24 hours a day.
- Even if you think you don’t have physical injuries, you should still have a medical examination and discuss with a health care provider the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections and the possibility of pregnancy resulting from the sexual assault.
- You will not be required to report the sexual assault to the police in order to receive medical care.
- If you suspect that you may have been given a rape drug, ask the hospital where you receive medical care to take a urine sample. The urine sample should be preserved as evidence. Rape drugs, such as Rohypnol and GHB, are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood.
- If you choose, you may go to a pharmacy and request emergency contraception (EC) over the counter. You may also go to Planned Parenthood or Kansas City CARE Clinic to receive EC on a sliding scale, or see your primary care physician.
- If you have difficulty receiving the medication, contact the MOCSA crisis line at (816) 531-0233 or (913) 642-0233 for resources.
- Talk with a counselor who is trained to assist victims of sexual assault about the emotional and physical impacts of the incident. Michelle Kroner, RISE Advocacy and Crisis Intervention Specialist, is available to provide support and referrals to medical, legal, and other services on-campus and in the community. There are also specially trained therapists available at MOCSA (link).
- If you currently are not in the Kansas City area but want information about legal issues, medical care, or other concerns related to the assault, RAINN can connect you with support in your area. They can be contacted by calling 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visiting RAINN (link) on the web.
Plan: Relationship Abuse
If you are currently in an abusive relationship, the immediate concern is your personal safety. The first step is to create a safety plan. For assistance in creating your plan, contact Michelle Kroner, RISE Advocacy and Crisis Intervention Specialist, at (816) 235-1652 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit What Is Safety Planning? (link).
Sometimes victims of relationship abuse fear that others will try to make them leave the relationship. Although some people may have that goal, whether or not you leave, and when, are choices that only you can make. If you do choose to leave the relationship, safety planning can help you figure out how to do so safely. If you are not ready to do so yet, or want to continue in the relationship, RISE can help you develop safety plans and cope with the feelings raised by the abuse.
One of the biggest fears victims of relationship abuse have about leaving is that their partner will come after them and hurt them even more. This is a valid fear, as violence does tend to escalate when the victim leaves. Because of this, it is important to develop a safety plan with the help of friends, family members, counselors, advocates, and the police. Although you do not have to talk to the police unless you want to, they can be helpful in obtaining emergency orders of protection and protecting your safety. RISE can also provide assistance in obtaining an order of protection, or you can visit Make Connections (link) and scroll down to Connections Beyond Campus – Services for Victims/Survivors.
Besides personal safety, survivors of intimate partner violence have to deal with emotional reactions to having been physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused by a loved one. It is common to experience depression, feelings of helplessness and rage, hopelessness, self-blame, and fear. Support from friends, family members, and often counselors or advocates can help you in your recovery. Shelters are also available to help you get back on your feet, and are especially important if you were economically dependent on your partner. There are a number of shelters in the Kansas City area that are free of charge, most of which accept children as well. Unfortunately, shelters for survivors identifying as male are limited, but most will provide assistance in finding a safe place and accessing other resources. Visit Make Connections (link) and scroll down to Connections Beyond Campus – Services for Victims/Survivors for more information on support, recovery, and available shelters.
- National Consumer Law Center provides information on identifying and addressing the consumer issues that a survivor faces; for more, visit Domestic Violence Survivors (link).
Only you know your own situation, and you are the best person to make judgments about what you should do in response to stalking. If you are being stalked, however, you do have a number of options to protect yourself and to recover.
- Discussing stalking with a professional can help you to assess the danger of the situation, become aware of your options, and help you to cope with the stress involved. RISE is available to help you and provide guidance as you make decisions.
- It is also important that you take steps to protect your safety. Some options are:
- Calling the police – stalking is illegal and you have a right to protection under the law. The police can also help you to obtain an emergency order of protection, which will guarantee their response if the stalker violates the order by initiating contact with you. It is important to note, however, that in certain cases restraining type orders can escalate the stalking situation.
- Taking steps to make your environment safer, such as locking doors, installing an alarm system, getting a dog, and getting caller ID or an unlisted number.
- Telling others about the situation so that they can help you (e.g., roommates, friends, family, partner, your employer). It can be useful to provide them with a picture of the person and a copy of a restraining order, if you have one.
- Communicate clearly and directly to the stalker that you do not want them to contact you again in any way, including phone calls, emails, gifts, showing up at your work or home, contacting your family, friends, or co-workers, or in any other manner.
- It can also be useful to document stalking behaviors, especially if you intend to press charges against the stalker. Even if you are not currently planning on it, you may change your mind, in which case it will be helpful to have the documentation.
- Save voicemails, gifts, letters, texts and emails.
- Keep a log of drive-bys, contacts by phone or in-person, and other suspicious circumstances.
- Document the date, time, and details of an incident, as well as any witnesses and how the incident made you feel (e.g., threatened, scared, unsafe, etc.). If you are safely able to take photographs of the incidents, do so (e.g. if the stalker is sitting outside your work/residence in a vehicle).
Stalking is often very frightening and can contribute to feelings of being out of control, so it is important that you receive support as you deal with both current or past stalking. RISE is here to provide support, as are other campus and community resources; to find out more, visit Make Connections (link). Support groups are often helpful, as is talking to a counselor. Students and employees have a number of options for confidential support; visit Confidential Support (link) for more information. It is also important that you let the people around you know that you are being stalked, both so that they can provide you emotional support and so that they can call the police if the stalker comes near them or tries to reach you.
For more information on stalking and ways to respond, visit Get Info – Stalking (link).