Month: March 2016

Reporting Rape: What to Do If You Are Raped?

While you might simply be wondering how you can continue life as you did before, knowing what to do if you are raped can help you hold your attacker responsible.

If you have been raped, the attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC advise you to report the incident to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible. Here are some of the steps you should take when ensuring your safety and reporting rape:

Get as Far Away from Your Attacker as Possible

Nothing is more important than your safety. Some attackers attempt to rape their victims multiple times or harm them in other ways. If you can, get as far away from your attacker as possible, even if it means leaving your home. If there is no way to break free of your attacker, call 9-1-1 to have emergency help sent directly to your door.

Seek Medical Attention

You should seek immediate medical attention after a rape. While you may feel inclined to take a shower and change out of your clothes, you should wait until after you have received medical care. By showering or changing clothes, you can destroy evidence and make it difficult to convict and hold your attacker liable.

The medical professionals you meet with will examine you for injuries and administer treatment.

If you are not sure where to go for treatment, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE(4673) to find medical care providers equipped to handle sexual assault victims in your area.

In addition to treating injuries, seeking medical attention right away will likely be a great help to our case against your attacker in civil court, particularly if you choose to have a rape kit done to preserve any DNA evidence.

Rape kits are optional, but can be extremely helpful in proving that a rape occurred. The hospital will have health care professionals specifically trained to administer sexual assault forensic exams. The kit may involve collecting evidence in bags, blood samples, swabbing, and other processes used to collect DNA.

Report the Rape

You have no obligation to come forward, but reporting the incident of rape to the authorities is an essential part of the healing process for many victims. There are multiple ways to report rape including:

  • Calling 9-1-1: This is the best option if you are still in a dangerous situation.

  • Make a statement with local police: If you are no longer in immediate danger, you may want to walk in to your local police station or call and give a statement regarding the incident.

  • Tell a medical professional: When you seek medical treatment, you can tell your medical professional to report the incident. However, you can receive a sexual assault forensic exam without having to report the incident.

Reporting Concerns

It may seem simple to report the person who attacked you, but rape victims may be hesitant to speak up for multiple reasons including:

  • Fear: Some victims are fearful of getting in trouble for doing something they should not have been. Sexual assault is always a crime, no matter what you were doing at the time. Some are also afraid of retribution from their attacker.

  • Guilt: Many victims know the person who assaulted them and are reluctant to cause them trouble. Again, sexual assault is a crime regardless of your relationship with the attacker.

  • Past consent: Some victims mistakenly believe that just because they consented to sex with the person in the past, they automatically “consented” to the rape. However, past consent does not give your attacker a free pass for sexual activity anytime he wants it.

  • Fear of disbelief: There are many victims who worry that law enforcement officials will not believe them or that the state will ignore their case due to a lack of evidence. Most law enforcement officers take sexual assault accusations seriously and the rape kit evidence may bring evidence to light that you did not expect.

While reporting your rape can help your case, do not feel pressured to do so. The choice is your own.

Speak to Our Attorneys to File a Claim Against Your Assailant

Once you have reported your rape to the proper authorities, it is time to take action. If you have been raped, you are entitled to recover damages from the person who attacked you. Our attorneys will help you build a case against your attacker, using some or all the following evidence:

  • Police reports

  • Forensic exam (rape kit)

  • Medical records

  • Witness testimony

  • Expert testimony

  • Victim testimony

If you decide to file a claim, you should act as soon as possible. Many states have a statute of limitations in place to limit how long a victim can wait to file a claim against their attacker for sexual assault. This statute of limitations will generally range anywhere from three to 30 years from the time of the incident. However, some states will extend statutes of limitation if DNA evidence points to a particular suspect.

The attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC are committed to seeking justice for rape victims. No amount of damages will ever erase the physical and emotional pain you feel. However, it gives you a voice and holds your attacker responsible for his appalling behavior. Call us today at 954-524-2820 to find out more about reporting rape and filing suit in your state.