What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual activity that you did not consent to, including inappropriate touching, vaginal, anal and/or oral penetration. Sexual assault cuts across all gender, culture, and age barriers; anyone can be at risk of sexual assault. Additionally, there is no typical sexual assault perpetrator; the offender could be someone unknown to you, or it could be a trusted family member, a friend or an acquaintance. It can happen in many different situations: in the home by someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place. Sexual assault is never the victim’s fault—no matter where it happens, how it happens, or who perpetrates it.
What should I do if I am raped or sexually assaulted?
- Get to a safe place as quickly as possible.
- Call 9-11or the police.
- Call a friend or family member you trust to be with you. You can also call a rape crisis line for support, information and referrals.
- Do not wash, comb or clean any part of your body until you can get to the hospital. If possible, do not change your clothes so the hospital personnel can collect them. Do not touch or move anything at the scene of the assault.
- Go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Even if you choose not to report a sexual assault, you should seek medical treatment. You will need to be examined, treated for injuries, and screened for possible sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy. The doctor or sexual assault nurse will collect evidence including any fibers, hairs, saliva, semen or other evidence that the attacker may have left behind. This evidence may be critical for identifying your attacker and/or later proving the case at trial.
What is a crisis hotline and who can use it?
Anyone who has been the victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse, whether it occurred recently or in the past, may call a crisis hotline. The hotlines are also available for anyone with questions about sexual assault or sexual abuse. Please see “Victim Information” for hotline numbers and information.
I was just sexually assaulted but I am not sure if I want to report it. Can I report it later?
Yes. You should still seek medical treatment for your own well-being and also to ensure prompt collection of critical evidence.
How soon after a suspect is arrested and in custody must charges be filed?
The decision to file must be made within 72 hours of arrest if a suspect is in custody.
My case was not filed by the DA’s Office. Does that mean that no one believes me?
Not at all. The DA’s office can only file a case in which there is a reasonable likelihood of conviction. In other words, the prosecution must be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Members of the DA’s office are ethically compelled to decline to file a case for which there does not exist a reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial. That does not mean that you are not believed. Rather, there is some reason or reasons that the case cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury at trial.
Is there any way for me to receive help with counseling and medical expenses?
If you have been the victim of a crime in the City and County of Denver, you may be eligible for crime victim compensation. Some financial assistance to victims of crime is available through the Crime Victim Compensation Fund. Victim compensation may help pay for medical expenses, mental health counseling, loss of wages due to injury, funeral expenses, repair or replacement of residential doors, locks and windows. Unfortunately, the program cannot consider claims for property loss and damage, rent and other personal bills, moving expenses or loss of cash.
How can I lower my risk of sexual assault?
There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of being sexually assaulted. Follow these tips from the National Crime Prevention Council:
- Be aware of your surroundings — who’s out there and what’s going on.
- Walk with confidence. The more confident you look, the stronger you appear.
- Know your limits when it comes to using alcohol.
- Be assertive — don’t let anyone violate your space.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings, leave.
- Don’t prop open self-locking doors.
- Lock your door and your windows, even if you leave for just a few minutes.
- Watch your keys. Don’t lend them. Don’t leave them. Don’t lose them. And don’t put your name and address on the key ring.
- Watch out for unwanted visitors. Know who’s on the other side of the door before you open it.
- Be wary of isolated spots, like underground garages, offices after business hours, and apartment laundry rooms.
- Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route. Stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.
- Have your key ready to use before you reach the door — home, car, or work.
- Park in well-lit areas and lock the car, even if you’ll only be gone a few minutes.
- Drive on well-traveled streets, with doors and windows locked.
- Never hitchhike or pick up a hitchhiker.
- Keep your car in good shape with plenty of gas in the tank.
- In case of car trouble, call for help on your cellular phone. If you don’t have a phone, put the hood up, lock the doors, and put a banner in the rear mirror that says, “Help. Call police.”