Sexual violence and rape
Sexual violence is any nonconsensual sexual act, or any sexual act where "no" is not a viable option for any person involved (due to coercion, drug/alcohol use, physical or mental incapacitation, etc).
Sexual violence includes a wide range of victimizations, including rape or attempted rape. These can include completed or attempted acts involving nonconsensual sexual contact between the survivor and perpetrator.
Information for survivors / victims
- Getting medical assistance
- Contacting an advocate
- Seeking justice
- Male survivors
- Life after experiencing sexual violence
It is a good idea to be examined in a hospital emergency room as soon as possible after an assault has taken place, even if you don't feel physically injured. If possible, do not shower or change clothes prior to arriving at the hospital.
Medical treatment and forensic evidence collection
According to Oregon state law, any licensed medical professional may document and collect forensic evidence of a sexual assault (commonly referred to as a "rape kit"). However, specially-trained and certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are available at many hospital emergency departments to provide these services and support in a compassionate and trauma-informed manner. You also have the option of reporting the sexual assault to law enforcement from the hospital, but you are NOT required to report to law enforcement in order to receive medical treatment or advocacy services.
Survivors of sexual assault in the state of Oregon have the legal right to have a "personal representative" of their choice present in the room during the sexual assault medical exam and forensic evidence collection process (this personal representative must be over 18 years old and NOT have been a witness to the incident).
Hospital advocates are usually affiliated with the area's community-based domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy program (not the hospital itself) and are trained to provide emotional support, help with safety planning, and explain the available forensic evidence and/or legal recourse options so that the survivor can make informed choices.
Sexual assault-related hospital expenses
You do not need to worry about paying for post-sexual assault medical care. In the state of Oregon, the Sexual Assault Victim Emergency Medical Response (SAVE) fund, administered by the Oregon Department of Justice, Crime Victims' Assistance Section (CVAS), pays for any of or all the elements of a "Complete" Medical Assessment, which includes the collection of forensic evidence and must be conducted within 84 hours of the assault; and for any of or all the elements of a "Partial" Medical Assessment which does not include the collection of forensic evidence and must be conducted within 7 days of the assault.
Additionally, survivors DO NOT need to report the assault to law enforcement in order to access the fund. The exam may or may not include evidence collection, sexually transmitted infection (STI) prophylaxis and/or emergency contraception. A confidential, one page form will be completed at the medical facility and submitted by the medical facility for payment.
Advocates can listen to your situation, provide support and help you understand risks and consider your options. Click here to find an advocate.
Survivors of sexual violence have several avenues through which they can seek recourse. Each has its own set of circumstances, and not all are mutually exclusive. An advocate in your area can help you understand how each of these options applies to your unique situation.
Filing a criminal complaint
This approach involves filing a report with local law enforcement, to compel a criminal investigation and the potential filing of criminal charges against the perpetrator.
Civil legal remedies
In some cases, survivors have successfully filed civil lawsuits and claimed damages from their perpetrator.
For more information, please see:
- Victim Rights Law Center (link is external)
- Oregon Crime Victims Law Center: Guide to Restitution/Compensation in Sexual Assault Cases (link is external)
If the assault occurred in an educational institution, workplace or other setting, administrative (not criminal/judicial) grievances can often be filed by the survivor against the perpetrator. These proceedings can lead to consequences for the perpetrator including (but not limited to) official reprimand, re-location, suspension, and expulsion/termination.
Court-issued protective orders
Effective January 1st, 2014, the state of Oregon will begin issuing and enforcing Sexual Abuse Protection Orders(SAPO) (commonly referred to as "restraining orders") to survivors who have been sexually assaulted by a perpetrator who is not an intimate partner. This new civil legal provision, which has already been passed into law and successfully implemented in the state of Washington (among many other jurisdictions), bridges a major gap for many survivors whose situations do not fit the issuing criteria for Family Abuse Protection Act (FAPA) orders or Stalking protection orders.
The Oregon Judicial Department (link is external) has released a comprehensive set of information on Sexual Abuse Protective Orders, their implications, and the forms and other documents necessary to request one through the court system.
It has been estimated that roughly 1 in 6 men in the United States have experienced abusive sexual encounters before age 18. And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn't include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects. The organizations below offer confidential services and resources:
Re-establishing a safe, independent and stable life after experiencing sexual violence is often a complex and difficult task for survivors. The resources listed below may be able to provide support and assistance in this undertaking.
Counseling and therapy services
Being subjected to sexual violence is highly traumatizing for many people who experience it. To support survivors in their process of mental and emotional healing, a variety of individual therapy and support groups are available. Click here to locate counseling and therapy services near you.
Types of sexual violence
This term is best understood in the context of criminal law. Precise definitions vary by jurisdiction, but rape commonly refers to non-consensual penetrative sexual contact, generally involving a penis and vagina.
Encompassing a broader range of acts, sexual assault refers to any unwanted, non-consensual sexual contact, penetrative or not.
This term encompasses rape and sexual assault, as well as other societal/cultural practices that utilize sex and sexuality to enslave, dominate or otherwise oppress people. The "umbrella" of sexual violence includes crimes and practices such as the propagation of child pornography, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), commercial sexual exploitation and sex slavery, involuntary prostitution, and systematic mass rape as a weapon of war. It is the term preferred by such bodies as the United Nations in discussing the breadth of this issue on a global scale.
Any deliberate or repeated sexual behavior that is unwelcome to the recipient. Sexual favors may be demanded or suggested as a condition of employment, or a hostile work environment may be created through sexual comments, jokes, pictures, or inappropriate touching.
Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs)
Oregon state law (SB 557; effective July 1st, 2011) mandates the formation and sustainment of county-wide multidisciplinary Sexual Assault Response Teams, or SARTs, to promote a coordinated response to sexual assault in communities across the state.
Members of a county-level SART include representatives from:
- the local district attorney's office,
- community-based advocacy programs,
- local hospitals providing Sexual Assault Forensic Exams, and
- law enforcement agencies serving the area (including, but not limited to municipal police departments, county sheriff's offices, and/or Oregon State Police).
County SARTs are tasked with developing protocols for the reponse to adolescent and adult sexual assault in their communities. Additionally, SB 557 requires all medical facilities to be prepared for sexual assault patients. Medical facilities that provide sexual assault forensic exams must employ or contract with at least one SANE-trained examiner. Medical facilities that do not provide this service must develop policies for the efficient transfer of patients to an appropriate facility.
The SART model of multidisciplinary collaborative responses to sexual violence can be applied in other paradigms, most notably to prisons and jails.
At present, training and technical assistance specific to Sexual Assault Response Team formation and management is provided by the Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force (link is external). Contact them with any SART-related questions or concerns.
Resources for employers
Employers should have a sexual harassment policy that includes a definition of sexual harassment, a statement of zero tolerance, procedures for filing a complaint, and disciplinary procedures. Violations of the sexual harassment policy should be strictly enforced.
For more information on sexual harassment see the National Women's Law Center (link is external) website. For resources on sexual harassment in the schools, go to the Wellesley Centers for Women (link is external) website.
Sex offender treatment and management
Sex offender treatment is a serious and encouraging process which focuses on learning specialized strategies for stopping abusive behavior, being accountable and taking responsibility for harm done [...] Treatment does not offer amnesty or excuse abusive acts, nor is it intended to punish or humiliate participants. A central focus of treatment is to help an individual create a better life for him/herself by developing their strengths while managing risk. Sex offender treatment is offered by therapists who specialize in working with adults and youth with sexual behavior problems.
Participation in sex offender treatment may be voluntary or court-mandated. As an emerging field, the effectiveness of such programs are difficult to measure. The Sex Offender Treatment Board (link is external) (an office of the Oregon Health Authority) currently administers a basic certification framework for sex offender treatment practitioners. However, further work is needed on training guidelines, the development of best/promising practices, program evaluation processes, and oversight/quality assurance mechanisms.
The Coalition views the concept of sex offender treatment and management as promising, especially when these programs incorporate strategies of trauma-informed practice and work in active and ongoing collaboration with local DVSA victim advocates. Along with primary prevention, community education, criminal justice and victim response advocacy initiatives, sex offender treatment and management programs have the potential to serve as an effective component of communities' coordinated responses to sexual violence.
- Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (link is external)
- Oregon Health Authority: Sex Offender Treatment Board (link is external)
- Oregon Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (link is external)
- Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force: Offender Management Subcommittee (link is external)
External links and additional resources
Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School!(link is external) (link is external) is a practical resource for families, schools, SARTs, and community organizations. The video follows a high school gender equity group tackling sexual harassment and assault as they interview national experts. In one of the video's scenarios, a victim learns about the sexual assault forensic examination process, the role of a victim's advocate, and students’ Title IX rights from SART Cheryl Ann Graf, ARNP (56:16). This scenario illuminates the unique challenges victims face and thesometimes-divergent priorities of advocates and educational institutions to respond justly, effectively, and compassionately to sexual assault in the school setting.
- Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force (link is external) is a nonprofit organization that provides training, resources and support to organizations and communities working to prevent and respond to sexual violence throughout the state of Oregon.
- Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) (link is external) provides free legal services throughout Massachusetts and in Multnomah and Washington Counties, Oregon, training for attorneys and advocates nationally, and technical assistance to Office on Violence Against Women Legal Assistance for Victims (OVW LAV) grantees.
- AEquitas - The Prosecutors' Resource on Violence Against Women (link is external)
- And It Was Wrong (link is external) provides a forum for survivors of sexual assault to tell their stories and define their experiences, not as it is convenient for those who perpetrate it, but to reflect and validate what happened and what they decide is wrong
- CounterQuo: Challenging the Way We Respond to Sexual Violence (link is external), is an initiative of the Victim Rights Law Center and The Voices and Faces Project that seeks to foster new alliances and information sharing between anti-violence leaders from the worlds of advocacy, law, media, public health and academia.
- End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) (link is external) provides multidisciplinary training and expert consultation regarding crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence.
- Men Can Stop Rape (link is external)
- Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM) (link is external)
- National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) (link is external) educates the policy community about federal laws, legislation and appropriations impacting the fight to end sexual violence.
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) (link is external), a program of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, provides leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.
- National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) (link is external) advocates for stronger rights, protections, and services for crime victims; provides education, training, and evaluation; and serves as a trusted source of current information on victims' issues.
- National Online Resource Center for Violence Against Women (link is external)
- RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network) (link is external)
- Raising Her Voice: Sexual Assault Survivors Speak Out (link is external) provides a safe space for survivors of sexual assault to share their experiences with emergency contraception (EC or the "morning-after pill").
- Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR) (link is external)