If you have recently been assaulted, your safety is most important.
Call 911 if you are in immediate danger!
If you are sexually assaulted:
Seek medical care as quickly as possible after a sexual assault. If you call 911, a police officer or ambulance will be able to take you to the hospital. Remember, bathing or taking a shower may compromise evidence collected by medical personnel. If you feel comfortable, wait to bathe until after you have been to the hospital. If you go to Grace Hospital in Morganton or to Valdese Hospital in Rutherford College after being sexually assaulted, hospital staff can call an Options advocate to the hospital to support and console you.
Sexual Assault is Not Your Fault!
Whether you were sexually assaulted recently or some time ago, you are probably experiencing a wide range of feelings: shock, fear, disbelief, recurring memories, outrage, confusion, sadness, despair, and anger. Please do not lose hope. All of your feelings are valid. You did not deserve to be sexually assaulted. The offender is the only person who should be blamed.
There are many local resources that are available to you following a sexual assault, including those offered by Options. Common needs following a sexual assault include medical care, mental health support, legal help, and consolation. Options can provide direct services to victims of sexual assault, or refer you to another local agency. Options can also help you with a safety plan if the offender is someone you live with or work with. Options’ advocacy and other services are free and confidential. If you come to Options, you will be under no obligation to report a sexual assault to police or to press charges. We are here to support you, whatever you decide!
The Justice System
Following a sexual assault, you may choose to call the police to have the offender arrested and charged with a crime. If you do, a medical exam may be taken to preserve evidence of the assault (sometimes called a “rape kit”). Police investigators may be able to take evidence from your clothing and body to prove the offender committed the crime. A nurse examiner will look for injuries related to the assault, proof that sexual activity occurred, and DNA from the offender on your clothing and body. To best preserve this evidence, do not eat, urinate, shower, bathe, douche, or brush your hair before you are examined by a medical professional. Investigators will confiscate all of the clothing that you were wearing at the time of the assault, so do not change or wash your clothes. If you go to Grace Hospital or Valdese Hospital for this exam and an Options advocate is called in to accompany you, Options will furnish you with a t-shirt and sweat pants to wear home.
A medical exam can be a powerful tool to put the offender behind bars, but it can also be very difficult emotionally to be medically examined after an assault. Options’ advocate will stay with you in the hospital during the exam to support you emotionally. We will also answer any questions you may have and will explain your legal rights. If you choose to press charges against the offender, an Options advocate will also accompany you to court during all legal proceedings.
Some medical concerns may not be immediately apparent, such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), internal injuries and pregnancy. Even if you do not wish to have a doctor or nurse collect evidence for an investigation, please obtain a medical exam to protect yourself as soon as possible from further physical harm. Some medications, such as the “morning after pill” for pregnancy and antibiotics for STDs are most effective when administered as soon as possible. Medical care may also preserve evidence of the assault, should you wish to pursue criminal charges immediately or in the future.
The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Options is a member of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA). For more information about sexual assault, including legislation in North Carolina, visit their web site at www.nccasa.org
Your computer activity can be tracked. If you are in danger, navigate away from this page immediately!
If you are scared of your partner, if you are in danger, or if you are suffering domestic violence, you are not alone! Call Options’
24 hour crisis hotline.
Facts About Sexual Violence and Related Terminology
- Sexual violence refers to all criminal acts of a sexual nature
- Sexual assault is when a person is violated by sexual acts without their consent.
- Perpetrators use intimidation, threats of harm and/or blaming to force victims into a sexual act and/or acts. This can include kissing, unwanted exposure of genitalia, fondling and sexual intercourse.
- Sexual assaults are about power and control, not sexual gratification, love, or victim behavior!
- Anyone can become a victim of sexual violence regardless of age, race, sex or economic standing. Most offenders are known to the victim. It could be a friend, partner, co-worker or even a family member. Education, awareness, intervention and prevention efforts are the key to breaking the cycle of sexual violence.
- Sexual harassment is any unwanted repeated sexual behavior. It may come in the forms of comments and gestures that are hostile, offensive or degrading.
- Rape is a sexual act of power and control that uses physical force, intimidation, coercion, threats and/or injury without the consent of the individual.
- Date rape occurs when someone you know coerces, intimidates, uses force or drugs to get you to have sex. The drugs make those who are victims incapable of making decisions.
- Incest is any sexual contact between a child and a person who is related or caretakers, including step-parents or partners who cohabitate. Perpetrators can be mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents, siblings and step-siblings.
Advocating for Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault
Options’ Rape and Sexual Assault (RASA) program helps victims cope with their attack through crisis intervention and emotional support. Our full-time RASA advocate also makes referrals to other community agencies for the victims and families of rape and sexual assault. The RASA program empowers and supports victims through court and hospital accompaniment. In addition to advocacy, RASA provides community education on sexual violence, awareness and prevention efforts. Knowledge and support are the two most important factors in putting an end to sexual violence. An Options staff member is on call 24 hours to accompany sexual assault victims to the hospital. Program goals are to empower victims of sexual violence and to educate Burke County about RASA issues.
Options’ rape and sexual assault program is designed to help victims cope with the most interpersonal form of violence that exists. This program provides crisis intervention and emotional support services for those who are victims of rape and sexual assault. The RASA advocate provides support services and/or referrals to other appropriate community agencies for the victims and families of rape and sexual assault. The RASA program’s goal is to empower victims through court and hospital accompaniment. This advocacy takes place through hospital, law enforcement and court experiences.
In addition to advocacy, the rape and sexual assault program provides community education on sexual violence, awareness and prevention efforts. The rape crisis advocate’s goal is to raise awareness, prevention and intervention surrounding sexual violence issues through education. Knowledge and support are the two most important factors in putting an end to sexual violence.
Covering Your Tracks: How to Keep an Abuser from Viewing Your Internet Activity
Note: Since computer programs are constantly changing and several different types of programs are available this information does not cover all aspects of covering your tracks.
Computer use such as e-mail and Internet use can provide quick access to important information
for sexual assault survivors. However, if you are concerned an offender may be tracking your
computer activities, here are some safety tips to try to maintain your privacy and increase your safety. There are also computer programs available to do all of this for you.
Warning: If the abuser is computer savvy, you may not want to follow some of these procedures.
He/She may notice changes have been made.
Terminology used in this article:1
Person in charge of maintaining the computer.
Some of their tasks include adding/deleting users, security, and monitoring the system performance. Computers running the Windows Operating system come with the account “Administrator” already created. See your computer manual for initial password information.
A computer program used to view web pages (e.g., Mozilla, Netscape, Internet Explorer, AOL)
An area of your hard drive that stores the web pages you viewed. This allows for the pages to be loaded quicker if you decide to view them again.
A small text file that is saved on your computer, which allows websites to save your preferences.
Electronic mail. Mail sent over the Internet. Internet: Developed in the early 1960’s by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now known as DARPA) for the United States Department of Defense as a means of connecting nuclear weapon arsenals. Today, the Internet consists of computers connected from all over the world.
A list of web pages you have recently viewed. These are easily accessible by clicking the Forward or Back button in your browser.
Passwords Do’s and Don’ts
- Do change your password as often as you feel necessary to keep safe.
- Do keep your password and login information to yourself.
- Do choose a password that includes a combination of letters or numbers.
This makes it more difficult to determine.
- Do NOT share your login and password information with anyone else. Create a User account for each person that uses the computer. Follow the steps provided in your computer manual.
- Keeping your e-mail on your computer makes it easy for someone to read all about your life and activities. logging into your system. Be sure to remember it or else you will not be able to make changes to your system in the future.
Set up a browser based e-mail account such as www.hotmail.com.
DO NOT choose an e-mail provider that requires you to enter your dial up e-mail address!
They will send sign up spam.
Do NOT write down your password ANYWHERE. No sticky notes on the computer screen or slips of paper in a drawer or purse. Send information to that e-mail address and if you are not there to get it, someone else will. Since these e-mail accounts allow you to store your messages on THEIR machine, set up some folders in your mail account and save your messages online.
Do NOT assume people cannot get through your password defense. You need to take precautions to cover your e-mail and browsing trail.
Do NOT choose a password that is easy to guess. No pet’s names, children’s names, etc?
Make sure you send all your outgoing e-mail using one of these browser based mail accounts. If
the settings are not correct on some mail programs, you could be leaving a trail on your computer.
Remember to save and print all e-mail from a stalker/abuser. This could be used as evidence. If
it is not safe for you to print them out or save them safely on your computer, forward them to your online mail account and store them there. If you decide to use an e-mail account on your computer (e.g., Outlook, Netscape Composer) change the p
reference/options to NOT save your sent messages. (Do save a copy of messages
sent to abuser as evidence.) Remember to empty the “Deleted” folder.
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Your browser (e.g., Netscape, Internet Explorer, AOL) keeps a lot of information about you. Before you walk away from your computer always clear cache, clear history, clear cookies, and CLOSE THE BROWSER (terminate the browser program). Also remember if you bookmark a site (also known as “Favorites”) other people can easily use your bookmarks to see where you have been. Clearing the Cache/History: These items are typically found under one of the pull down menus at the top of the browser. They are usually found under the labels “Options” or “Preferences” and the terminology varies slightly for each browser.
Cookies help websites keep track of your information on their website. Cookies are commonly used for account login and shopping. When you are done using your browser “Remove All Cookies” if the option is available. Disable “AutoComplete”: Auto complete remembers what you typed into a form and stores the information to assist you in completing future forms. Empty “Recycle Bin”: When you have completed all the above tasks, empty the “Recycle Bin”, because it will contain many of the files you just deleted.
Under “History” set “remember visited pages for the last” to “0” days and click “Clear History”
Change “Number of pages in session history” to “0 Under “Advanced” > “Cache” click “Clear Memory Cache” and “Clear Disk Cache” Click “OK”
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Download instructions, with picture diagram PDF file.