Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault Crisis Advocate
A trained sexual assault crisis advocate can accompany you to the hospital and/or police station if you wish. The advocate is there to offer you support and answer your questions. Services are available regardless of whether or not you decide to report the assault to the police. An advocate is available through the 24-hour Victims of Crime Helpline at 800-494-8100.

Classification
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual contact without consent. This includes forcing someone to watch pornography or sexual acts. Consent is “yes” without force or power. Force or power includes:
  • Emotional coercion (bribes, pressuring, lying, and tricks)
  • Implicit coercion (social position, size/strength, and age)
  • Verbal threats
  • Physical force without a weapon or physical force with a weapon
Exceptions to consent include age (the age of consent in Rhode Island is 16) and being mentally incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. In addition, a person who is incapable of understanding the nature of a sexual act due to a mental impairment cannot give consent.

Statistics
Sexual violence happens to all people. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Most perpetrators are known and trusted. 85% of perpetrators are acquaintances such as a parent, relative, or friend and that can make the sexual abuse even more confusing.

What to Do
There is no “right” response to sexual violence. Sexual assault is a life-threatening situation and whatever you did to survive was the right thing to do. Remember, submitting to sexual violence is not the same thing as consenting. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault and no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.

If you have been sexually assaulted, consider the following:
  • Medical Help: Every victim of sexual assault should receive immediate medical attention. Being seen by medical personnel does not mean you have to report the crime.
    • There is a specific sexual assault examination that addresses your medical needs, as well as the collection of evidence that may be useful should you decide to report the crime and press charges.
    • Also, you should consider being tested for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. Medical evidence can be collected up to 72 hours after an assault. There is no cost to the victim who has no insurance for the exam. The exam can be done at any hospital emergency room.
  • The Police: Sexual assault is a crime. It is your decision whether or not to file a police report. If you decide to report the assault, the report should be filed with the police department in the city/town where the assault occurred, or with the state police.