If you’ve been hurt

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More than anything we wish you had not been hurt. No one had a right to make you suffer. What happened to you is over. Now you deserve a place of safety, to be secure from further harm by those who have hurt you. If you are not yet safe, we would like to support your efforts to find the protected space you need for healing. Creating adequate distance and safety from the person or persons who caused you harm can be part of the healing process.

Despite what many people believe or what you may be feeling, you can heal from the violence or cruelty you’ve experienced. It’s not an easy job; it will take wisdom and courage. But we believe, having witnessed healing in other survivors and experienced our own, you have more than enough wisdom, more than enough courage to do the work which needs to be done. Rape Trauma Services is here to help you with this process.

Medical Information for Survivors of Sexual Assault

The Keller Center at the San Mateo Medical Center, is the designated facility in San Mateo County for the medical treatment and forensic examination of sexual assault survivors. The Keller Center is located at:

The Keller Center for Family Violence
San Mateo Medical Center
222 West 39th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403
Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm (650) 573-2623
General Hospital Number (650) 573-2222

If you wish to report a sexual assault to the police, an evidence collection examination may be necessary. In order to preserve evidence, you should try not to:

• Change clothes
• Shower or bathe
• Douche
• Wash clothes
• Touch any evidence at the crime scene
• Take any medication

If you decide to report, the police will pay for most aspects of the medical exam. Reporting also makes it likely that the Victim Witness Program will pay for any part of the exam not covered by the police.

Remember you have the right to have a sexual assault advocate (someone who has been specially trained to support you and answer any questions) from RTS present during your exam. We are here for you 24 hours a day.

We encourage survivors  to seek needed medical attention and will meet you at the hospital or other medical setting. We don’t pressure anyone to report a criminal offense. It is your decision. Our role is to give support to ensure you have accurate information to make the best decision for yourself.

Legal Information

Make an informed decision about reporting the crime. You have a right to report the crime of sexual assault or abuse. It is an important decision so you should have all the facts. A Sexual Assault Counselor can describe the process and answer your questions. Doctors, nurses, therapists, teachers, and social workers are required to call the police if you tell them you have been raped or sexually abused. Even if they call the police, you can still choose whether or not you wish to make a report.

For additional information, please call our 24-hour Crisis Line: (650) 692- RAPE (7273).

Common Feelings

As a survivor of sexual assault you may find yourself experiencing some of the following responses:

• Anger
• Fear
• Embarrassment
• Isolation
• Powerlessness
• Anxiety
• Denial
• Self-Blame and Doubt
• Shame
• Guilt
• Numbness
• Sorrow
• Despair

All of these feelings are natural. You are not alone; we at Rape Trauma Services understand survivors’ reactions and are here for you.

Remember: You are not to blame for what happened. You are alive; you are a survivor and now is the time to begin the process of recovery. Reaching out for support is part of the recovery process.

Please call our 24-hour Crisis Line: (650) 692- RAPE (7273).

Protecting Ourselves

Whatever you did to survive your experience was the right thing.

Adults

We wish we could tell you something definitive that would ensure your future safety. There are no pat answers about what will increase your safety and reduce your vulnerability. Every situation is different. Every person is different. There is no way any one of us can be perfectly safe or invulnerable. To be human is to be fallible. In fact, coming to terms with your vulnerability is probably most critical to your future safety.

In terms of what to do in a dangerous situation, what works in one case may not work in another. You should do whatever seems best for you – it is your life at stake and only you can decide the best choices for you to make.

The prevention of sexual assault is partly a matter of anticipating risk, increasing your options, and believing you have the right to ask for what you need and to defend yourself. More than anything, it is a matter of trusting your intuition, using your common sense, and being assertive.

Being aware of possible danger is also a primary factor in prevention. Don’t be afraid to create a scene if you are uncomfortable. If you are feeling unsafe with someone you know, test to see if that person will listen to your needs.

Children

We teach children how to prevent many dangers. But many of us fall short of teaching them about sexual assault. If you are uncomfortable talking with your child about these matters, find someone who will. We need to make clear to children that their bodies are their own and no one has the right to abuse them. In discussing prevention with children, it is helpful to give examples of situations without scaring them unnecessarily.

The most important prevention starts early, when you begin to validate your child’s experience, help him or her express the natural feelings that accompany difficult or frightening life events. Children who have been encouraged to trust those feelings and demand their private space will be more able to assert themselves when someone attempts to intrude upon that space.