What Should I Do?
Make sure you are in a safe environment. If you believe you are still in danger, call 911. Once you’re out of physical danger, contact someone you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, teacher, school counselor, friend’s parent, doctor or religious leader.
If you’re not sure what to do next, call us for advice, support and help. We have trained crisis hotline staff and volunteers available 24/7 to answer your questions, help you explore options, and support you through the recovery process. You can reach us at 972-641-RAPE (7273).
If you are under 18, tell a trusted adult. It’s important to be aware that if you disclose your identity and location and that you are being harmed, the person you tell may be required by state law to alert authorities. If you do not have any trusted adults in your life or wish to talk confidentially for now, you can call the Child Help hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
If you are thinking about suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK. If you have already taken steps to harm yourself or feel that you can’t stop yourself from committing suicide, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
A medical forensic exam is also sometimes referred to as a rape kit. The exam is a physical exam designed to gather samples which may contain evidence. At THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, medical forensic exams are completed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). A DARCC Advocate will be dispatched to be available to you for emotional support during the hospital visit. The Advocate can be present with you during the exam if you would like. The SANE may ask to take your clothing for evidence, take pictures of any injuries, and gather samples which may contain evidence (oral swabs, collection of any debris such as dirt, leaves, or fibers, fingernail scrapings, vaginal/penile/anal swabs, and other samples). You may consent or not to consent to any portion of the exam if you choose. Depending on the nature of the assault, the SANE may conduct a pelvic exam on female patients.
There are currently three hospitals in the city of Dallas equipped to offer medical forensic exams: THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, Parkland, and Methodist Dallas. DARCC dispatches Advocates to THR Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas only at this time. Please note that in the state of Texas, if a victim would like to make a police report, she/he has up to 120 hours from the time the assault occurred for a medical forensic exam to be completed. If the assault occurred more than 120 hours ago, a forensic exam cannot be completed but the crime may still be reported. We would still encourage you to obtain, at a minimum, a wellness exam, to ensure that you have not sustained any injuries.
You will meet with a Triage Nurse in the emergency room. You may find it difficult to explain your needs to the nurse. Although you do not need to give the nurse all the details of the assault, you will have to say you were sexually assaulted in order to receive the proper treatment. This will activate a system of processes to ensure that you are provided with specific services. The hospital will call our hotline and a DARCC advocate will be dispatched to meet you at the hospital. You will be taken to a triage room and medically stabilized before the medical forensic exam can take place.
A DARCC advocate is a volunteer who has a special role different from a counselor, law enforcement and medical personnel. A DARCC advocate’s purpose is to provide emotional support to the victim, as well as information about resources, while the victim is in the hospital setting. Advocates also serve as a liaison, helping the victim and anyone who may have come with her/him understand the medical and legal processes that occur while the victim is in the hospital setting. DARCC’s Advocates value and maintain the victim’s privacy and confidentiality except if they are informed of potential threat to the life of the victim or others and/or if they have reason to believe that a child, a disabled person or an elderly person is being abused and/or harmed. In such cases, the advocate is obligated by law to report the information to the appropriate authorities.
If you are an adult, you do not necessarily have to report the assault at all. Some people wait to report the assault later, and some people never report. But if you would like evidence gathered and you’re still not sure if reporting is right for you, the law allows adult sexual assault victims to obtain a medical forensic exam without making a police report if that is what you would prefer. This is also called a “non-report” exam. If the victim would not like to make a police report, the medical forensic exam will be completed up to 96 hours after the time of the assault. Evidence collected without an accompanying police report will be packaged and sent to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and stored for a minimum of two years, which provides you with time to consider your decision. DPS will pay the hospital for the exam and seek reimbursement through the Office of Attorney General (OAG)’s Crime Victims Compensation Program. If the victim would like to make a police report, she/he has up to 120 hours from the time the assault occurred for a medical forensic exam to be completed. If the assault occurred more than 120 hours ago, a forensic exam cannot be completed but the crime may still be reported.
Hospital staff will not ask you questions about your immigration status because it is considered not relevant for medical care. Your immigration status cannot be discussed or reported by hospital staff. Emergency rooms are not required by state law to report sexual assaults if you are an adult. You may wish to report the crime to police for many reasons. If you choose not to report the crime, you will not be eligible for financial reimbursement of medical expenses through the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund. If you have entered the country against your will, you may be entitled to protection as a victim of human trafficking. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity regardless of your immigration status. We encourage you to contact our hotline to speak with our Case Manager for additional information.
Any person can be a victim of sexual violence. Your feelings may be the same as those of any other sexual assault survivor (guilt, powerlessness, concern regarding your safety), and you may also have some concerns unique to your gender identity, including your sexuality, masculinity/femininity, reporting to law enforcement, how to tell others, and how to find resources and support. You have done nothing that justifies being raped and DARCC is available to help you navigate the process.