Column: Information for victims of sexual assault

4:53 PM, Apr. 8, 2013  |  Comments
DaNita Carlson
DaNita Carlson
  • Filed Under

Sexual assault can happen to anyone, even the most careful person.

If you are the victim of sexual assault, it is incredibly important to know what actions to take and where to go for help. The following information is crucial to your safety, recovery, and healing following an assault.

Immediately following a sexual assault:

? Get to a place where you feel safe.

? Reach out for support. Call someone you trust, like a friend or family member.

? Preserve evidence. Do NOT bathe or brush your teeth; don't remove sheets or clothes; and don't straighten up or touch anything in the area where the assault took place. Even if you are unsure about reporting the assault to authorities, it is important to preserve evidence until you make a decision.

Within 24 hours of the assault:

? Contact a victim's advocate. Call the Family Center's Crisis Hotline (877-318-0003) or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673).

? Seek medical attention. Medical care is important to address any injuries you may have and to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

? Report the assault to the police. It is your decision to file a report or to go forward with an investigation, and you do not have to make it immediately. However, if you decide to file a report, it is best to do this as soon as possible.

In the days following the assault:

? Seek supportive counseling. Following a sexual assault, it is normal to feel shock, confusion, fear and anger. Many victims also feel shame, guilt or self-blame. A counselor can help you to work through these emotions, shed the negative impact of sexual trauma and move into a healthier life.

? Join a support group. Support groups offer opportunities to speak with others who have had similar experiences. Support groups also offer tools and resources that can aid in your healing process.

Local resources for victims:

? Sexual Assault Victim's Advocacy

The Family Center in Wisconsin Rapids: The Family Center offers a confidential 24-hour sexual assault crisis hotline (877-318-0003); 24-hour advocacy and support at police stations, hospital emergency rooms and in court; support groups for sexual assault/abuse survivors, children and others affected by sexual violence; one-on-one support; sexual abuse and sexual assault education within the community.

Additional resources: Personal Development Center in Marshfield and Clark County.

? Law Enforcement

Wisconsin Rapids Police Department: When a sexual assault is reported, officers go to the scene and determine if the victim is in need of any immediate medical attention. They also preserve any physical evidence that may be present. From there, officers typically obtain a brief statement from the victim regarding what has happened, how recently the assault may have occurred and any information (if known) about the suspect. If it is a recent event, police would obtain as much information as possible about the suspect in order to locate him/her.

If it is determined that medical attention is needed and if any evidence can still be collected, the police would seek the assistance of a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse at a local emergency room. Evidence that can be collected from the victim is then turned over to law enforcement for further processing.

Law enforcement will assist in connecting the victim to any community services that are available such as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate and providing updates as the case progresses.

Additional resources: The Wood County Sheriff's Department, Marshfield Police Department, Nekoosa Police Department, Grand Rapids Police Department, Port Edwards Police Department.

? Medical Services

Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids: Riverview Hospital Emergency Department's SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) program currently has two nurses who are certified as practitioners in this field. These nurses manage the care of patients who suffer from assault or sexual abuse by providing physical, emotional and psychological support to a sexual assault survivor. They also assist law enforcement in the collection of evidence and collaborate with SANE Advocate Services from the Family Center in Wisconsin Rapids to ensure follow up supportive services are in place.

Additional resources: Ministry Saint Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, The Children's Advocacy Center, or CACc in Marshfield.

If you are the victim of a sexual assault, know that the assault is NOT your fault! Even if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol; even if the attacker was an acquaintance, date or friend; even if you have been sexually intimate with that person before; even if you did not say "no" or were unable to fight back; even if you were wearing revealing clothes, you are NOT to blame for a sexual assault.

Please visit for more information.

DaNita Carlson is executive director of the Family Center.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

Retrieving results.
Watching practice is fine.(Your vote)
579 votes
I'd rather watch a scrimmage.(Your vote)
862 votes
I don't want to pay to watch practice.(Your vote)
1025 votes
It doesn't matter to me.(Your vote)
1279 votes

Catch up on the latest in our pregame show every game day.

Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports


Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports