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FAQs and Resources

 

Fortunately there are many resources and support services available within the University and the Charlottesville community for students who have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter. A STUDENT DOES NOT NEED TO FORMALLY REPORT THE ENCOUNTER(S) TO SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION, COUNSELING SERVICES, OR RECEIVE SUPPORT SERVICES FROM THE UNIVERSITY.

This FAQ provides further information on:

How do I get through this? You are not alone. There are a number of resources available for you. Feel free to tell the professional you see at Student Health what you need or ask about available resources. Remember, services you receive at Gynecology, Counseling & Psychological Services, and General Medicine are confidential. Please come see us.

Medical Issues

Why do I need medical help if I am not hurt?
You may be in shock after an assault and not be aware of any physical injuries. Internal injuries may not be apparent. Sexual assault may expose you to risk of sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy. Medical assistance will ensure that you are tested and treated for these conditions.

What about sexually transmitted infections?
Medication will be offered to you to protect against the risk of gonorrhea and chlamydia. Medications to prevent HIV are available, and a clinician will discuss the risks and benefits with you. It is very important to have medical follow-up through Student Health or another health care provider in order to have sexually transmitted infection screening tests if needed.

I am afraid I may be pregnant as a result of the sexual assault. How can I find out?
If you are at risk for pregnancy, pregnancy testing is available, and options will be discussed with you. You may choose to use emergency contraception to prevent a potential pregnancy.

Do I have to pay for my medical, mental health, and other related expenses?
There is no charge for your visit for the physical examination, health care advice, or counseling services at Student Health. These services are covered by your Health Fee. However there may be charges for medications, lab tests, and supplies for certain treatments. These charges may be covered by your health insurance. In some cases, financial assistance for lab tests and medications may also be available.

If you receive a PERK exam (evidence collection) at Student Health or the UVA Hospital Emergency Department, the exam, medications, and lab tests will be provided at no charge, as this is covered under the State of Virginia Criminal Injury Compensation Fund. However, there may be some charges incurred if other diagnostic tools, such as x-rays, are necessary.

If you do NOT have a PERK and are treated in the UVA Hospital Emergency Department, your insurance will be billed for the entire cost, including an emergency room fee, labs, and medications.

Emotional Issues

Do I have to talk about the encounter?
No, that is your choice. You will most likely find that you have changing emotional needs in the hours to months following the encounter. At first you may feel numbness and shock; eventually strong feelings are likely to surface, and seeing a counseling professional can make a real difference in how you cope.

Do I have to talk with a professional?
No, that is your choice. What is most important is that you find someone you feel you can trust and who respects all your needs. Trained individuals can be both understanding and objective. They are trained to understand that you are likely to experience different emotional stages over time.

What are these "emotional stages"?
Following an unwanted sexual encounter, you will probably have a strong urge to feel in control of what happens around you in order to feel that your life is "back to normal." It is very important that you feel safe. Some people have problems with sleep or have nightmares, some experience difficulty concentrating, and others have appetite problems. Many people experience changes in how they feel about being touched. Remember that feelings of fear, anger, confusion, guilt, or powerlessness are normal.

Usually these feelings subside, and you may think you have put it all behind you. Then months to years later, upsetting memories may return, arousing such feelings as depression, guilt, anxiety, loss and hopelessness. Or you may feel angry and wishes for revenge may surface. Seeing a counselor can help you in such situations. Sometimes after an unwanted sexual encounter, people struggle to relate intimately or to develop trusting relationships. The goal with counseling may be for a new understanding of yourself and others to emerge. This can bring about new hopefulness and energy in your life.

Will I ever have a healthy sex life again?
Yes you can, but at first you may not feel comfortable with sexual activity. You may not trust your partner, or sexual activity may remind you of the assault. Your sexual desires may diminish. Sometimes people respond by being more sexual than usual. You are likely to find that, as the impact of the sexual assault is explored, your sexual feelings and functioning will feel healthier.

If I have been a victim of non-stranger rape, often called acquaintance or "date rape," will my experience be different from what you described?
You may have more problems with feeling guilty and blaming yourself, thinking that "It's all my fault" or "I asked for it." You may experience a mix of reactions from those around you. Feeling betrayed by someone you know -- if only casually -- may prompt you to distrust other relationships or question your own judgment. Again, this is a good reason for seeking help from a professional counselor to understand your feelings.

Evidence Collection

I don't want to report the assault. Why should I bother with collecting evidence?
Collecting evidence gives you the option of reporting the assault to the police and/or the University later. Reporting the assault may be the last thing on your mind right now but an avenue you may wish to pursue later. The physical evidence improves the possibility of conviction. Evidence is lost with time. Collecting evidence is best done within 12 to 18 hours after the assault, but some evidence can be collected up to 5 days after the assault.

What kind of evidence is collected, and how is it done?
A PERK (Physical Evidence Recovery Kit), or forensic exam, is used to assist the examining clinician in the collection of evidence. Swabs will be taken from the vaginal and/or rectal areas and from your mouth. Samples of hair from your head and pubic area will be collected as well as material from under your fingernails. Procedures will be explained to you, step by step.

If I choose to have evidence collected, how should I prepare?
As uncomfortable as you may feel, don't wash yourself or your clothes. Valuable evidence would be destroyed. Do not douche, wipe yourself after urinating, smoke, eat, brush your teeth, comb your hair or put on make-up. Take an extra change of clothes with you to the hospital to wear home. The clothing you wore at the time of the assault will be kept.

Where do I go in Charlottesville to have evidence collected?
Evidence collection is available at Student Health during business hours and based on Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE nurse) availability. If after hours, evidence collection can occur at the UVA Hospital Emergency Department.

Resources

The following can help you, or someone you know, in the event of an unwanted sexual encounter.

Confidential
  • Student Health:
    • Gynecology Clinic: (434) 924-2773
    • Counseling and Psychological Services: (434) 924-5556
    • General Medicine: (434) 924-5362
    • After-hours (434) 297-4261
  • UVA Emergency Room: (434) 924-2231
  • UVA Women's Center: (434) 982-2774
    Provides counseling services.
  • Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA): (434) 295-7273
    Serves women and men who have experienced sexual violence.
  • Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE): (434) 296-6155
    Provides comprehensive services for women who have experienced intimate partner violence.
  • Sexual Assault Advocacy Fund (SAAF): (434) 327-1447
    Helps students, regardless of gender, who have experienced an unwanted sexual encounter navigate the criminal courts, the civil courts, and the University’s Title IX process.
  • Planned Parenthood: (434) 296-1000
  • Rape Crime Hotline: 977-RAPE (977-7273)
Non-Confidential