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FAQ’s About Sexual Assault

WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT?
Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape.  This includes sexual touching and fondling.

WHAT IS RAPE?
California State law defines rape as forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration.  Penetration may be by a body part or an object.

WHAT IS "DATE RAPE"?
Acquaintance rape, often called date rape, is when the rapist is someone the survivor knows - a date, friend, boyfriend, classmate or anyone else who is not a stranger. The vast majority of rape or sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know. The law does not make any distinctions between stranger rapes and date or acquaintance rape.

WHAT IS PARTNER RAPE?
Partner Rape is defined as sexual acts committed without a person's consent and/or against a person's will when the perpetrator is the individual's current partner (married or not), previous partner, or co-habitator.

WHAT IS INCEST?
Incest is sexual contact between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal (e.g., parents and children, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, etc.). This usually takes the form of an older family member sexually abusing a child or adolescent.

WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?
Child abuse takes place when a child is harmed by someone else physically, psychologically, or by acts of neglect.

WHAT IS STALKING?
Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity, nonconsensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear

WHAT IS DRUG FACILITATED ASSAULT?
Drug facilitated assault is when drugs or alcohol are used to compromise an individual's ability to consent to sexual activity. In addition, drugs and alcohol are often used in order to minimize the resistance and memory of the victim of a sexual assault.

CAN I GET HELP AT C.A.S.A.?
C.A.S.A. works with women, men and children of all ages. We can help you if you are a survivor of rape, sexual violence, or sexual abuse or if someone in your family is a survivor.  Services at C.A.S.A. are free.

IF I GO TO C.A.S.A., WILL THEY TELL ANYONE?
Services at C.A.S.A. are confidential. That means that we cannot tell anyone anything without your written consent. Your privacy and comfort are very important to us. It is important to understand that there are exceptions to confidentiality. We are required to follow the Mandated Reporting laws, which require us to report any suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, and we are also required to report to law enforcement if you tell us you plan to hurt yourself or anyone else.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I CALL THE HELPLINE?
When you call the 24-hour helpline, you will reach a State Certified Advocate who will listen to you and help you understand your options. You do not have to give any information you do not want to share. The Advocate will offer to have someone meet you at the hospital or police station to support you in getting medical attention or in reporting the assault to the police. If you do not want to do those things, you can just talk. You can call the helpline to talk at any time, right after the assault or months or years later, whenever you need support. 

I WAS RAPED, BUT I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO THE POLICE. DO I HAVE TO REPORT IT?
It is completely up to you whether or not to report a rape or sexual assault. If you want the person who assaulted you to go to jail, then you have to report the crime to the police - the sooner the better.

I HAVE HEARD THE MEDICAL EXAMINATION IS SCARY. DO I HAVE TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL?
It is extremely important for you to get medical attention as soon as possible. You may have injuries that are not apparent. The doctor or nurse can give you emergency contraception (EC) to prevent pregnancy and medications to prevent HIV and AIDS. The hospital will call the police only if you want them to.

IF I DON'T REPORT THE ASSAULT, CAN I CHANGE MY MIND AND REPORT IT LATER?
You can always file a report with the police, but it is best to do so right away. Your memory will be most clear soon after the assault, and there may be physical evidence that will be lost if you wait. Reporting the crime right away and having a specially trained nurse collect evidence during a medical examination increases the chances that your attacker can be caught and prosecuted.

WILL THE PERSON WHO SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ME GO TO JAIL?
Sexual assault is a serious crime. If you choose to report your assault to law enforcement, the District Attorney's office will decide if there is enough evidence to bring charges against the attacker. If convicted, it is possible that the attacker could receive a jail or prison sentence.

WHAT IF I WAS ON A DATE OR AT A PARTY? WILL ANYONE BELIEVE ME?
Sexual assault is a crime. It does not matter if you were on a date, at a party, or if you were drinking when it happened. It is never okay for someone to force sex on you. Under the law, date and acquaintance rape are no different from rape by a stranger.

I DON'T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED. HOW DO I KNOW IF I WAS DRUGGED?
People who have had rape drugs slipped into a drink often do not remember what happened while they were unconscious. They may remember what happened but not be able to remember clearly. If you have memory loss and have been sexually assaulted, you may have been given a rape drug such as Rohypnol or GHB. If you think you have been drugged, get to a hospital right away.

WHAT CAN I DO TO PROTECT MYSELF?
There is no way any of us can guarantee our safety, but there are some precautions you can take without giving up your freedom. Click HERE for more information.