What to Do after a Sexual Assault
After a sexual assault, it is important to remember that you have choices about how to take care of yourself. There is no one right way to ensure your self-care. However, listed below are several options, offering you suggestions on how to meet your physical safety and emotional needs, how to obtain medical attention, and options for pursuing legal action. Click here for the Rape Crisis Center's "After A Sexual Assault" booklet.
Go to a place where you are physically safe.
Contact someone who can help you: a friend, housefellow, academic advisor, family; a member of your place of worship, community, or extended family; the police; or an advocate from a campus or community agency, like the Rape Crisis Center.
Emotional Support, Counseling, and Advocacy
We strongly recommend contacting the RCC; advocates at RCC can help you with any medical and legal decisions that you need to make. RCC advocates are available 24 hours a day, and all services are free.
Rape Crisis Center (RCC)
2801 Coho, #301
24-hour hotline: (608) 251-7273
main office line: (608) 251-5126
Rape Crisis Center campus office
(one-to-one counseling services are available, limited hours, by appointment)
333 E Campus Mall, Rm. 7901
(608) 265-6389 » campus office line Monday-Friday, 9 am–5 pm
Visits to the RCC are confidential and do not show up on any kind of campus record. The RCC also provides individual short-term counseling and support groups for victims/survivors (and their friends and family) of all forms of sexual violence, including recent or past sexual assaults, sexual harassment, incest, and sexual exploitation or violation. On campus, there is a drop-in support group for sexual assault survivors. For more information, call or visit their website at www.danecountyrcc.com.
Counseling and Consultation Services
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 608-265-5600 (select option 9) 24 hours a day.
During business hours, students should come to the reception desk of the UHS counseling service (333 East Campus Mall, 7th floor) any time between 9 am and 4 pm, Monday through Friday for a consultation with a counselor.
Often, survivors of sexual assault find counseling an important part of their healing process. UHS offers culturally sensitive, confidential health care and referral services for UW-Madison students and their eligible domestic partners and family members. The UHS staff includes professional counselors, nurses, physicians, psychologists, prevention specialists, and other health care professionals. All UHS staff specialize in caring for students and understanding the unique challenges students face.
Assistant Deans in the Dean of Students Office can assist survivors who want to discuss the wide range of options available to them including: the University disciplinary process (when the assailant is a student), filing a criminal complaint, procuring a short-term crisis loan, and addressing other immediate safety and academic concerns. The Assistant Deans are also highly knowledgeable about additional on- and off-campus resources for survivors of sexual assault. This is the only campus office that can investigate an incident involving students and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions using the Student Code of Conduct (UWS 17). You are NOT required to file a disciplinary complaint in order to get assistance if you are a victim of sexual assault, and can get information about the process before making a decision.
The Dean of Students Office offers assistance to all students, including undergraduate, graduate, and international students.
Taking care of your physical and medical state can play an important role in healing. You may have internal and/or external injuries as a result of this assault requiring medical care. Additionally, you may want to explore options for preventing sexually transmitted infections/disease (STI/STD) and/or pregnancy.
Emergency contraception (Plan B) is available with or without a prescription at your pharmacy. It is also available at Planned Parenthood clinics, the Meriter Hospital SANE program, and UHS.
There is no “right” place to go for medical attention after an assault. You seek the services that best match your needs and comfort level—your own health care practitioner, a staff at University Health Services, Planned Parenthood, and/or the Meriter Hospital SANE program.
The UHS Women’s Clinic can provides medical care to women students who experience sexual assault. Staff can assess for pregnancy risk and provide emergency contraception, test for and treat sexually transmitted infections, and assess and refer for physical injuries. The women’s clinic provides support during medical assessment, as well as referrals for appropriate psychological services.
Specialized sensitive medical care for male survivors is available from the UHS general medicine clinic.
UHS staff can also refer patients to UHS Counseling & Consultation (333 E Campus Mall), the Rape Crisis Center, and the Division of Student Life.
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) Program
202 S. Park St.
SANE services are provided free of charge to all victims, regardless of your decision to involve law enforcement (call for more details) The SANE Program is staffed by registered nurses who have advanced education and instruction in medical-forensic examination and in psychological and emotional trauma. SANE nurses are available to speak to groups and organizations and may also provide expert testimony in a court of law. SANE's philosophy of nursing empowers patients to determine their plan of care, including:
- Emotional support
- Physical examination and wellness check
- Collection of medical-forensic evidence
- Assistance with reporting the crime to police, when requested (mandatory reporting for children)
- Assistance with concerns about sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy
- Assistance with safety planning
- Development of a medical follow-up plan
Advocates from the Rape Crisis Center can also be on-hand for support and advocacy during the SANE exam.
Things to know about the SANE exam:
- During the exam you can expect to be examined for internal or external injuries, foreign hair samples, and semen/other bodily fluids.
- If possible, bring an extra set of clothes (if you decide to have evidence collected, the police may want the clothes worn during the assault for evidence) and a friend or another supportive person.
- If you think you may want to file a police report in the future, do not shower, drink, eat, douche, or change your clothes prior to an exam. These activities can destroy important physical evidence that is useful should you decide to make a police report. If you’ve already showered or changed, it’s still okay to go to SANE for an exam. Also, document everything you remember happening with as much detail as possible. (This can also help should you decide to take legal action).
- You can choose to have forensic evidence collected without filing a police report immediately.
Please call ahead for billing rates; sliding scale available
Madison South Health Center
2222 S. Park Street, Suite 210
3706 Orin Road
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin provides services for individuals affected by sexual assault, including pregnancy-testing and counseling, dispensing emergency contraceptive pills, confidential testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, and referral to local agencies or clinics for additional sexual assault services (e.g., Rape Crisis Center). Hours vary at the three Madison area clinics listed, so it is best to call ahead of time to set up an appointment. If you are outside the Madison area, call 1-800-230-PLAN for the clinic nearest you.
Not everyone is comfortable with using the criminal justice system to respond to a sexual assault. It is your decision whether or not to take legal action against the perpetrator. We encourage you to seek out the support system that feels most appropriate and helpful. Under the Responsible Action Guidelines, it is the policy of the UW-Madison Police Department and the Madison Police Department to NOT issue citations for victims who are under the legal drinking age or under the influence of illegal substances who report an assault.
If you wish to report the assault to campus authorities with or without going through the criminal justice system, please contact the Division of Student Life/Dean of Students Office. at (608) 263-5700. This office can investigate incidents involving students and hold perpetrators accountable (fines, expulsion, suspension, and other penalties) for their actions using the Student Code of Conduct (UWS 17). Assistant Deans in SAJA can assist survivors who want to discuss the wide range of options and accommodations available to them including: the University disciplinary process (when the assailant is a student), filing a criminal complaint, other administrative options, addressing other immediate safety and academic concerns.
If you wish to report a sexual assault to the police, call 911 as soon as possible. The Rape Crisis Center has a 24 hour hotline that is available to answer any questions or concerns you have about legal reporting. The operator will send an investigator to assist you. If you would feel more comfortable speaking with a woman, it is important to make this specific request, and a female investigator will be sent if one is available. You will need to talk to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the area in which the assault happened. In Madison, this will most likely be either University of Wisconsin Police Department or the Madison Police Department.
When the police arrive, they will take a statement and ensure that you are physically safe. The police will also interview you about what happened. This may be difficult, but it is very important in order to complete a police report. The interview is conducted in private, but you can request to have a friend or another supportive person accompany you if you wish. Advocates from the Rape Crisis Center (608-251-7273) are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, to be with you during the police interview. The police will get as much information as possible about the incident and investigate the case further.
Once an investigation is completed, the police refer the case to the District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney’s office decides whether or not your case will be prosecuted by considering factors such as the amount of evidence available to prove the charge(s) in court. If the District Attorney decides not to prosecute, this does not mean that the District Attorney doesn’t believe that you were assaulted. It means that based on past experience, he/she does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to win the case.
Additional legal resources on the web: