Sexual violence impacts all of us
Sexual violence impacts all of us: our family members, our friends, and our neighbors. Sexual violence includes all sexual acts meant to harm, humiliate, control, and intimidate.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, you are not alone. Help is available through the Iowa Victim Service Hotline at 1-800-770-1650 or text IOWAHELP to 20121.
If I am a survivor, what are my options?
If you are a survivor of sexual violence, you have options:
You can decide who you want to talk to about what happened to you. You also decide what kind of help and support is best for you.
Free and confidential support is available to you regardless of your age, race, gender, class status, sexual orientation, ability, religion, or physical appearance. Culturally specific programs and shelter services are also available for survivors of sexual violence. Click here to find a crisis center near you.
If you are under 18 and/or on a college campus, some people you might want to disclose to may not be able to keep your information confidential. To find out more about mandatory abuse reporting for people under 18, click here. For more information about mandatory reporting on college campuses, click here.
If you have recently been assaulted and would like to have a medical exam to make sure you are physically okay, and/or to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, all hospitals provide sexual assault exams free of charge, regardless of insurance or ability to pay.
Hospital staff can also collect physical evidence (frequently called a "rape kit" or a "sexual assault forensic exam") if you decide to file a police report either now or in the future. This is also free of charge.
A free and confidential advocate can provide support and answer questions throughout any part of the medical process. Confidential advocates are available at a program near you.
Should you decide to speak to law enforcement about an assault that happened recently or in the past, a free and confidential advocate can be present during this process. Confidential advocates are available at a crisis center near you.
No matter when the assault happened, you have the right to receive support in a way that feels good to you. You are not alone, and what happened was not your fault.
How can I help a survivor?
Every survivor reacts to sexual violence in a different way. Some survivors might talk openly about what happened to them. Others might not want to talk about it at all, keeping their emotions inside. Some survivors want to wait weeks, months, or even years before discussing their sexual assault. Others might want to talk about it with someone right away.
It's important to respect each survivor's personal choices as they cope with sexual violence in their own way. Here are a few ways that you can help support a survivor if they disclose to you:
Start by believing the survivor unconditionally. Nearly all survivors fear no one will believe them after they're assaulted.
Remind the survivor that it wasn't their fault. No matter what decisions they might have made before or after the assault, it is not their fault that this happened to them.
When a survivor shares their story with you, listen to them. Be patient and let them make their own decisions about what steps to take following the assault.
Respect the survivor's personal boundaries. Survivors of sexual violence feel like they've lost control over their bodies. They may not want to be touched or physically consoled.
Provide information, not advice. Help the survivor get the help they want and need, but let them make their own decisions.
It's also important to remember that as you're supporting a survivor, you might also need support. Rape crisis centers offer support and resources not just for survivors, but also for family members and friends that have been affected by sexual violence. Click here to find a crisis center near you.
Men, boys, and sexual violence
Resource, support, and services are available for men and boys who have experienced sexual violence. Every crisis center in Iowa has been trained to work with male survivors by IowaCASA's staff. To find a crisis center near you, click here.
Stereotypes about masculinity make it difficult to talk about sexual violence with men and boys. Many survivors who identify as men have a difficult time putting what has happened to them into words. Male survivors are also less likely to disclose what happened to them.
For more information or training on supporting male-identified survivors, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information for Legal Services
IowaCASA provides free legal services to survivors of sexual violence. To be eligible for legal services through IowaCASA, you must be 11 years old or older and a survivor of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, and/or stalking. Our services are focused on, but not limited to, rural areas. Survivors living in rural areas in Iowa will be given priority. Survivors who do not know if they are eligible for services are encouraged to contact our legal department, and IowaCASA's legal staff can make a final decision on eligibility. For more information, email email@example.com. For more information about legal services through IowaCASA, click here.
Click here to access the Referral Form for IowaCASA's Legal Department.
Resources for Spiritual Abuse
Spiritual and faith communities can be a great source of healing, community, and support for survivors of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Many communities promote values of peace and justice, which are integral in ending sexual abuse. Unfortunately, as with all communities, sexual violence still exists. Leaders may misuse their spiritual influence to cause direct harm to their community or use their power to ignore instances of abuse. Survivors should be allowed to follow their spiritual journey without violence. When violence occurs they have the rights to seek healing and justice.
If you are a survivor of spiritual abuse, help is available.
Click here for Spiritual Abuse Resource in English.
Click here for Spiritual Abuse Resource in Spanish.
When working with a survivor of sexual assault, law enforcement are required to notify victims of their rights pursuant to Iowa Code Section 709.22. IowaCASA has developed victim rights notification cards for law enforcement, which you can print and distribute as necessary. Please contact our office with any questions at 515-244-7424.
IowaCASA provides a number of resources in brochure format. If you or your organization would like copies of any of the brochures provided in this section, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know which brochures you'd like and how many copies. We do our best to accommodate all requests, though it depends on how many brochures we have printed in stock at the time of the request.
Click on each of the hyperlinks below to access a PDF copy of the brochure:
IowaCASA General Information Brochure in English (June 2018) > click here
IowaCASA General Information Brochure in Spanish (June 2018) > click here
Sexual Violence on College Campuses: What you need to know (July 2018) > click here
Lo que necesitas saber sobre la violencia sexual en los campus universitarios (July 2018) > haga clic aquí
How to Support Survivors of Sexual Assault: Information for Parents and Guardians of Adolescents, Teens, & Young Adults (July 2018) > click here
Sexual Consent Bookmark for Youth (July 2018) > click here
Let's Talk About Sexual Violence Postcard for Youth (July 2018) > click here
What You Need to Know About the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (June 2018) > click here
Resources for more information
Provides education, information, and resources for men, family and friends, and professionals on male-identified survivors who were abused as children.
A program of Family Resources, dedicated to eradicating human trafficking in Iowa and Illinois. Provides comprehensive services to survivors and works toward building a statewide collaborative response to human trafficking through education, legislative advocacy, and community partnerships.
An online directory of LGBTQIA-friendly mental health specialists across the United States, in addition to resources and information on sexual violence pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ community.
A project that provides information for students about their Title IX rights in regards to ending sexual violence on campuses.
For survivors of sexual violence in Iowa, IowaCASA has created a "Know Your Rights" card that includes information in both English and Spanish, and lists rape crisis programs in Iowa that serve all 99 counties.
NAESV educates the policy community about federal laws, legislation, and appropriations impacting the fight to end sexual violence. As part of its mission, NAESV advises members of Congress and the executive branch on issues of sexual violence.
NSVRC offers a wide range of resources on sexual violence including statistics, research, position statements, statutes, training curricula, prevention initiatives, and program information. With these resources, NSVRC assists coalitions, advocates, and others interested in understanding and eliminating sexual violence.
A program of IowaCASA that provides resources and information to parents, grandparents, and caregivers on how to talk about sexual violence with children and youth across the age spectrum (infancy to post-high school).
A national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence. Its website includes podcasts, web conferences, eLearnings, and more.
Stop It Now provides information to survivors and parents, relatives, and friends of child sexual abuse. It offers resources for offender treatment in addition to information on recognizing signs of child sexual abuse.
A program of the National Center for Victims of Crime as part of a national effort to promote awareness, action, and advocacy to enhance victim safety and hold stalking offenders accountable.
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