Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

(Benchmarked from an approved OVW website)

Sexual assault can happen to anyone. It impacts women, men, and children. You are not alone. One in six American women, and one in thirty-three American men, are victims/survivors of sexual assault. Similarly, college-aged women are four times more likely to be the victim/survivor of sexual assault, and sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes; more than half are not reported (RAINN: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network).

Most often, the assailant and the victim/survivor know one another. There is a common cultural idea that sexual assault cannot happen to men, and that they are always the ones responsible for the assault. It is estimated that each year, 834,000 men are sexually assaulted by their partners (Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, gender, class status, sexual orientation, ability, religion, or physical appearance. Sexual assault is never the victim/survivor’s fault. It is often easier to blame ourselves for our experiences of violence than it is to believe that we live in a world where someone would choose to harm us.

What is sexual assault?

  • When a person commits an act of sexual penetration:
    • by the use of force or threat of force, or when the accused knew that the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent.
  • A crime prosecutable under Illinois law.
  • An act of power and control.
  • Sexual assault is NOT an expression of love, passion, or sexual desire.
  • Sexual assault is NOT your fault.

What is rape?

  • Rape is a form of sexual assault. Rape is another word for penetration (oral, anal, or vaginal) that is forced on another person through threats to harm that person or another, intimidation, coercion, or lack of consent.

What is acquaintance rape?

  • Acquaintance rape is a sex crime committed by someone who knows the victim/survivor. The perpetrator could be a friend, classmate, relative, or co-worker. As a sex crime, acquaintance rape includes forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual contact.  

What if I have been sexually assaulted?

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Call someone for support.
    • You can call a trusted friend, family member, or any other support system to help and support you. On campus Victim Advocacy Services is available to ALL NIU students to advocate and support any victim/survivor or anyone impacted by sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking. All services are confidential and Victim Advocacy Services can help you navigate your way through on- and off-campus resources. You can reach Victim Advocacy Services during regular business hours at 815-753-0320.
  • Do not bathe, douche, or change clothes.
    • Washing or changing clothes may remove forensic evidence. If you do bathe, douche, or change clothes, a hospital will still provide a forensic evidence exam.
  • Get medical attention.
    • Both your physical and emotional well-being are important. You could have an internal injury, a sexually transmitted infection, or become pregnant. A medical exam could also provide important evidence for prosecution.
  • Make a police report.
    • Making a report is not the same as pressing charges. You can make a police report even if you are unsure if you want to press charges. The decision to prosecute is completely up to you. 

What decisions do I need to make?

  • There are a few things to think about. Victim Advocacy Services will help you. Here are some questions to consider:
    • Do I want to go to a hospital for medical treatment, such as emergency contraception and/or help in preventing sexually transmitted diseases?
    • Do I want to have an evidence collection kit done at a hospital? If you do have an evidence collection kit done, it will allow you to get many of your medical expenses paid for through the Crime Victim Compensation Act (also explained below). Evidence collection kits (explained more below) can be done if you are considering reporting the crime to police. Note: You do not have to report to the police if you have an evidence collection kit done.
    • Do I want counseling to talk about what happened? This type of trauma is very distressing and can bring up all kinds of feelings. If they get bottled up, or if a victim/survivor has limited social and emotional support, emotional and behavioral symptoms may develop which can impact day-to-day functioning. VAS can refer you to the appropriate options on campus and in the community to receive counseling services, if you choose to do so.
    • Do I want to report the assault to NIU Police and Public Safety, Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct, or the DeKalb Police Department? You do not have to decide whether to report the assault to police immediately – you can decide this later. You can discuss this with a VAS advocate, a counselor, family, friends or other support systems.

What kinds of medical treatments should I consider?

  • You may want to consider medical treatment to prevent pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections including HIV. One of the first things that a medical facility will do is a number of tests. These tests will determine if you have the following preexisting circumstances:
    • are already pregnant,
    • have existing sexually transmitted infections, and
    • are already HIV+.
  • This will enable health care providers to better plan for your ongoing care.

What are the timelines for medical interventions?

  • There are some important timelines to keep in mind if you have been sexually assaulted. If you decide you want these services, it is best to ask for them as early as possible after the assault.
    • An evidence collection kit can only be done within 96 hours (4 days) of assault. A rape drug test can be done within 96 hours.
    • Evidence collected during an evidence collection kit is saved in the hospital for at least 1 month to allow you time to decide whether or not to report the assault to police.
    • HIV prophylactic treatment needs to be started within 36 hours of assault and lasts for 1 month.
    • Emergency birth control must be given within 72 hours of assault.
    • An IUD inserted within 1 week after an assault can help prevent pregnancy.

What is an evidence collection kit, and should I have one done?

  • An evidence collection kit is a set of tests performed at a hospital that is used to help collect evidence after either a man or woman is sexually assaulted – it looks like a box with little envelopes, microscope slides and bags for collecting and storing evidence. The evidence collected in an evidence collection kit may later be used in court if you decide to press charges against the person who assaulted you. It is important to know that you can have an evidence collection kit done even if you do not yet know if you will want to report the assault to the police and press charges. There are two benefits of having an evidence collection kit done:
    1. It allows you to file with the Crime Victims Compensation Act (see below) so that your ongoing medical and care expenses can be reimbursed.
    2. It allows you to decide later to file a report with the police and to know that all evidence has been collected.

What will happen if I decide to go to the hospital?

  • An advocate from Victim Advocacy Services can go with you to the hospital and will support you as you are informed by medical staff of the tests and medications that are offered. Once you are at the hospital a local rape crisis advocate will be available, in addition to the VAS advocate, who will be there to help you and to explain any legal or medical procedures that you may not understand. It is your choice to receive any support from the advocates.
  • These are the options you will have once you are at a hospital:
    • having an evidence collection kit done;
    • being able to file later for reimbursement of medical expenses if you have had an evidence collection kit done;
    • getting tested for sexually transmitted infections;
    • getting emergency birth control;
    • getting a Hepatitis vaccination;
    • getting prophylactic treatment for HIV;
    • talking with a Safe Passage rape crisis counselor; and
    • talking with a VAS advocate for options on campus.
  • Keep in mind that, if you decide to go to the hospital:
    • You can have a friend, a VAS advocate, or local medical advocate with you during any and all tests and exams.
    • You can choose to decline any test and medication. Just because you begin an exam, it does not mean you must complete it.

How can I pay for ongoing medical care and counseling? What is the Crime Victim Compensation Act and can it help me? 

  • The state has established several programs to provide financial assistance to survivors or sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Survivor’s Emergency Treatment Act can cover emergency room costs when the survivor has no medical insurance. This fund is available through the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
  • The Illinois Crime Victim’s Compensation Act, administered through the attorney general’s office, can reimburse victims of violent crimes for a variety expenses, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and psychological counseling. However, to be eligible for this funding, an individual must be identified as a crime victim and a police report must be filed within 72 hours of the assault.
  • For charges incurred at the hospital emergency room the hospital will bill one insurance. Students who have the University student plan may choose to have only that policy billed. Students may decline to bill their parents’ insurance. Students will receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) form from their insurance company.
  • The hospital will bill any unpaid balance of those identified as crime victims to funds provided through the Illinois Crime Victim’s Compensation Act.
  • Students are eligible to receive follow-up service at NIU Health Services.

Billing for services at NIU

  • If you student are covered under your parents’ insurance, and wish to keep information private regarding any medical services or treatment they have received regarding being victimized, you may choose to utilize one any of the following options;
    • Pay out of pocket at the time services are being rendered.
    • Bill services to your Bursars account.  The charge for services will indicate “Health Services Charge”
  • If you meet the eligibility requirements under the Crime Victim’s Compensation Act, you may be refunded for your out of pocket expenses if you elect to choose one of these options.  For more information about the Crime Victim’s Compensation Act, please visit the following site;

Medical treatment options

One Kish Hospital Drive
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-756-1521

What kind of ongoing help can NIU provide?

For a list of ongoing help at NIU, please refer to A Guide for Suvivors.

What else should I know? 

You are likely to have complicated feelings about the assault. There are supports for you both at NIU and in the DeKalb community. We are here to help you. You are not alone. See NIU Victim Advocacy Services and Safe Passage for more information.

NIU Police and Public Safety (815-753-1212) are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

Suggested coping skills if you have been sexually assaulted

  • Exercise
  • Talk with a friend
  • Hobbies
  • Manicure
  • Bath
  • Listen to music
  • Watch a movie
  • Cook
  • TV
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Read a book
  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Journal
  • Ground yourself using grounding techniques
  • Imagine a safe place

 

  • Read a book
  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Art
  • Dance
  • Yoga
  • Journal
  • Ground yourself using grounding techniques
  • Imagine a safe place

Common reactions to sexual assault

Survivors of rape often conclude that they are somehow to blame, and believe that others will blame them also. These factors can make the impact of rape greater and recovery more difficult. Please know that victims/survivors of sexual assault are never to blame for their victimization. Reactions to sexual assault vary significantly in degree, timing, and impact on routine functioning. Individuals react to a crisis in many different ways. This is especially true of survivors of sexual assault. There are many different reactions, and some people do not react until days, weeks, or months after the assault. However, there are some common reactions and recovery strategies. 

Physical

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Tremors/Shakiness
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Easily Startled/Jumpy
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Chest Pains or Stomach Pains
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Headaches or Muscle Aches
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Appetite Changes
  • Crying
  • Tense

Behavioral

  • Withdrawal/Avoidance
  • Suspiciousness
  • Increased Smoking
  • Increased Alcohol/Drug Use
  • Unusual Behavior
  • Overly Vigilant about the Environment
  • Excessive Humor
  • Emotional Outburst
  • Missing Classes
  • Changes in Appearance
  • Changes in Usual Activities
  • Act Like Nothing has Changed

Emotional

  • Feeling Overwhelmed
  • Guilt
  • Sadness/Depression
  • Feeling Lost and/or Abandoned
  • Fear/Panic
  • Suicide/Homicide
  • Anger/Outrage/Fury
  • Helpless/Powerless
  • Numbness
  • Shock
  • Irritable
  • Self Blame
  • Grief


Cognitive

  • Slow Thinking
  • Difficulty Making Decisions
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty with Calculations
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Memory Problems
  • Poor Attention Span
  • Racing Thoughts
  • Religious Confusion