There are a swarm of questions that go through the minds of survivors. Our crisis centers helped us compile answers to the most common questions survivors ask.
"Is a person partly responsible for being assaulted if they were drunk or were wearing “the wrong” clothes."
The only person responsible for sexual assault is the perpetrator. Sexual assault survivors are never, under any circumstances, responsible for somebody choosing to assault them.
"Was it really an assault?" / "I think I was sexually assaulted. What should I do?"
Any form of sexual contact that occurs when someone does not or cannot consent is sexual assault, and it is wrong. If you feel like you may have been sexually assaulted, reach out to a local sexual assault center to talk to a training advocate about your options.
"Who can I talk to?"
Talk with trusted family and friends who will be supportive. Counselors and advocates are helpful, too. Everyone at LaFASA serves as an advocate; we can guide you to the right program or counselor and support you in the direction you’d like to go.
"Why do I feel like this?"
There is no "normal" way to feel after a sexual assault because it is out of the ordinary and traumatic. You may experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, numbness or dissociation. You may have trouble focusing, eating, sleeping, working, or interacting with loved ones. These are common reactions and can occur days or even years later. They can be worked through with support.
"Why didn’t I fight back?"
When you are being sexually assaulted, even if it is by someone you know, your brain is experiencing trauma. Freezing up, dissociating, or acting polite and passive are all trauma responses, and are ways that our bodies keep us safe during any type of assault. The idea that a survivor should always fight back during an assault is victim-blaming.
"Do I have to report this to the police?"
You do not have to report, however reporting for some can be a step towards healing and regaining control.
"How many times do I have to repeat what happened to me?"
When reporting, unfortunately many people will have to hear your account. It can be very difficult and retraumatizing at times. Once the legal process is finished, you will not have to talk about it unless it’s your decision.
"Why has the suspect not been arrested in my case?"
Unfortunately, the criminal justice system often works much more slowly than anyone involved would like. If you want information about the timeline of your case, reach out to your advocate, detective, or district attorney to find out the stage of the process.
"Why isn’t the investigator on my case returning my calls?"
Often, detectives are assigned to countless different cases and crimes and many police departments have been understaffed. Along with this, cases of sexual assault are usually lengthy and take a while so detectives may not be quick to call. If at any time you find yourself unable to reach your detective contact your local rape crisis center and ask for advocacy services. Coalition crisis centers usually have a well-establish relationship with your police department and are able to reach detectives easier. An advocate can contact the police department on your behalf.
"What if I was drinking or doing drugs when it happened? Will I be arrested?"
If you are incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, you are NOT able to consent. An assault on you is NOT your fault if you have been drinking or using drugs; it is solely the fault of the perpetrator who chose to use your intoxicated state to hurt you. It is best practice for law enforcement and/or universities not to punish a survivor for any illegal activity they were engaged in during the perpetration of a sexual assault.
"Is it rape if we are in a relationship/marriage?" / "Can you be sexually assaulted if you’re married?"
Unwanted sexual activity in any relationship is assault. Having a pre-existing relationship is not an excuse for violating someone’s consent. Both parties have to fully agree to every sexual experience, no matter how many times they have consented before.
"Is it considered sexual assault if it was only oral or fondling?"
Yes, if you did not give consent, touching regardless of whether it’s digital or oral, is assault.
"Why did he do this to me?" (when perpetrator is known to the survivor)
The person that did this to you acted on self-absorbed and criminal inclinations. They sought to control their situation by controlling you and using you for their own satisfaction. While this person may be important to you, the heartbreaking truth is they cared more about themselves than they cared about you. Regardless of who did it or the circumstances, the assault was not about anything that you did.
"Will he be arrested?" / “Be real with me, given the detectives responses, what is the actual likelihood this will really go somewhere?”
Unfortunately, only 6 out of 100 perpetrators will be arrested and 1 in 100 will be prosecuted and convicted. However, the courage to stand up against the crime committed goes a long way. Sometimes it may seem like nothing, but saying something will hopefully help to change these stats and lead to less assaults and more disclosures and reportings.
"How long will it take for this to be done?" Usually followed by something like: "I just want to forget all this like it never happened and go on about my life."
There is no definitive timeline for prosecution. Your advocate, representative or LaFASA’s legal advocate, all have the goal to keep your case to the minimal time necessary.
"Should I get STI testing and/or a forensic exam? How do I do that?"
It is always in your favor to have as much information to make your case and to be healthy. However, any exams are completely YOUR choice.
You are able to get a forensic medical exam (FME) at any emergency room. If possible, call your local crisis center before hand to consult with them to see which facility is the best for you to visit. Your crisis center should be able to partner you with an advocate to assist you to help. Once you arrive ask to receive an FME. During the exam, they should offer you STI testing and prophylaxis. You are NOT responsible financially for a forensic exam. They should not ask for any insurance. It is ALL free of charge. If at any time you are charged for anything you can correct this by contacting the hospital’s billing department and any other expenses can be covered by Crime Victim Reparations of Louisiana if you are reporting the crime.
"Why are the Forensic Kit results taking so long?"
Because each kit is different and each kit needs to be meticulously examined, there can be a backlog. Louisiana is one state that does a fairly good job of working through forensic kits to ensure each survivor’s evidence is processed.
"How do I help a loved one who was sexually assaulted?"
Listen, believe, and comfort them. Help them with requests and support and respect the decisions they make. There are negative symptoms of trauma, such as eating disorders and drug & alcohol abuse, however the more support a survivor has, the less likely they are to engage in these negative activities.
"Can anyone be sexually assaulted, or only women?"
People of all genders and sexual orientation can be sexually assaulted. The offender can also be any gender, and of any sexual orientation.
"Are rapists strangers?"
Most offenders are known to the survivor. The idea that the majority of rapists are strangers is a myth.
"Rape has existed for so long. Can we really prevent it?"
Sexual violence is woven into our society. This is often referred to as rape culture. However, just because it is common, does not mean it is inevitable. We can prevent sexual violence, often in partnership with other movements for equality.