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What Happens at a Sexual Assault Center?

Article Details
  • Written By: N. Farley
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A sexual assault center is a place where victims of sexual abuse can go for counseling, legal assistance, shelter and medical examinations. Victims might visit a sexual assault center immediately following a violent sexual attack or rape, or even in the weeks following the event. A trained sexual assault nurse examiner can conduct a medical examination in order to collect evidence of the assault and to determine the victim's condition. Victims can also receive counseling and support from advocates on the staff as well as legal consultation and advice from sexual assault lawyers. A sexual assault center might also provide a safe haven for victims who need to escape abusive relationships.

When visiting a sexual assault center, a victim might need to undergo a medical examination. During the examination, a nurse might try to collect DNA evidence, such as sperm cells or hairs left by the perpetrator. This evidence can be collected from the victim's clothing, fingernails or body. The nurse will also look for physical signs of sexual assault, such as bruises, cuts or marks on the skin. Female victims are often asked about their menstrual cycle and the use of contraception, in order to determine the possibility of pregnancy.

Victims can also receive assistance from a sexual assault advocate who might be able to offer legal counsel. These advocates also often appear in court on behalf of the victims. Advocates can provide sexual assault education to victims and in court proceedings, because many people are unaware of the prevalence of sexual assault. After learning about their legal options, victims must decide whether to report sexual assault. Some victims choose not to report instances of sexual violence, because they do not want to go through lengthy and uncertain legal proceedings.

In many cases, victims at sexual assault centers have escaped from abusive situations or relationships. Many sexual abuse victims are trapped in destructive relationships, with no financial resources or friends to rely on. A sexual assault center provides victims with a safe environment and a supportive community to which they can turn. In some cases, the sexual assault center also provides victims with housing, food and even job training while they work to reintegrate into their communities. Sexual violence victims might also receive counseling and education about sexual assault during their stay, which can help them begin the long road to recovery and emotional healing.

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