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Frequently Asked Questions

Why me? Why did this happen to me (or to my child)?
No one really knows why this happens to anyone. The person who abused or assaulted you or your child made an extremely poor choice. Some perpetrators are “me-first” individuals who satisfy many nonsexual needs when they engage in sexual behavior. Others enjoy the process of forcibly overpowering their victim, terrifying him or her, and inflicting pain. Although the overt behavior is sexual, the underlying feelings and motivation can be related to other issues. A rapist’s motivation is primarily to humiliate, hurt and destroy, not to release a normal sex drive.

If my child was sexually abused, will she/he become an offender?
No, not necessarily. It is important for children to receive counseling (when appropriate) to progress through the abuse and to learn ways to help themselves remain safe, set boundaries, understand safe/unsafe touches, etc.

With professional help sexually abused children typically grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted adults.

Does the Sexual Assault Crisis Center treat offenders?
No, the Center does not treat sexual offenders.

What do I do if I’ve been sexually assaulted?
Immediately following the assault, you should make sure you are in a safe place. Then get help by calling the police at 911, calling the Sexual Assault Crisis Center at 920.733.8119 or 1.800.722.7797, or going to the nearest hospital. Do not change your clothes or try to bathe until after you have had a medical exam. After that, it is important to talk with someone you trust (and a counselor) about what happened.

Remember to do things to take care of yourself, like trying to get adequate sleep, eating healthy, nutritious foods, getting some sort of physical activity (when you feel safe to do so). And don’t use alcohol or drugs to help you forget what happened.

When is it too late to report an assault or abuse?
Reports filed within 3 years can normally be prosecuted. In many cases, the statute of limitations is longer than that. In some situations where sexual abuse occurred to a child, the statute of limitations can be as long as 45 years. Contact the Victim/Witness coordinator of your county District Attorney for more information or go to www.wcasa.org/pages/Resources-Info_Sheets.php

Do I have to report my sexual assault?

No, if you are over 18 years old, you do not have to report your assault to law enforcement. You should still have a medical exam to check for injuries, and/or sexually transmitted infections. You can request a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to do a forensic (evidence collecting) exam in case you later change your mind about calling the police.

Why should I report my sexual assault?

Reporting your sexual assault helps you regain control over your life. Remember that law enforcement personnel will be available to protect you, and advocates will be available to support you during this difficult time.Offenders who are identified and prosecuted are held accountable for their actions. Once convicted, they may be ordered by the court to undergo mandatory HIV testing, and are prevented from assaulting others.

What happens during the Court Process?

When the police have completed their investigation, the matter is referred to the District Attorney?s office for charges to be filed. It is the District Attorney?s responsibility to determine what, if any, criminal charges can be filed, and also to assess if this case could be argued beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.Once charges are filed, the accused defendant must appear in court, where he/she is informed of his/her rights. Bond is set to determine if the defendant will stay in jail or be released during the time until the case is concluded.If the charge is a felony offense, the defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to present sufficient evidence to show probable cause that a felony was committed, and was committed by this defendant. A victim may be required to testify at a preliminary hearing. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, the case is set for a jury trial.

Every criminal defendant has a right to a jury trial, where both the District Attorney and the defense attorney are allowed to question the victim. The defendant would also be allowed to present evidence in the form of a defense to the charges. The jury determines if the District Attorney has proven the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant would be sentenced by the judge. If found not guilty, he/she is released.

Often times, these cases result in a plea bargain. This means a conviction is established without a jury trial. Plea bargaining is a process whereby the accused with his/her defense attorney and the District Attorney (with input from the victim) negotiate a mutually satisfactory disposition of the case. Usually, this relieves the victim from having to testify in court. The judge ultimately determines the sentence to be imposed in any criminal case, whether a plea bargain is reached, or following a ?guilty? verdict imposed as a result of a jury trial. At sentencing, both the defendant and the victim have the right to make a statement to the judge as to what the sentence should be.

How much time does it take for a case to go through the criminal justice system?
Unfortunately, no specific answer exists due to the complexities of each and every case, but from the onset of the initial investigation on through to the judge?s sentencing, the process will take several months. The more serious the charges, and the more complex the case, the longer the process takes.

What are flashbacks?

Flashbacks are vivid memories that cause you to feel as if the original experience of the abuse is happening again, in the present time.

What are triggers?

Triggers are items or occurrences that will remind you of the time you were abused or assaulted. These may be things you might see, hear, taste, smell, or touch.

What are some signs I can look for in my child if I think he/she has been sexually abused?

Younger children may experience sleep disturbances or bed-wetting, loss of appetite or eating disorders, withdrawal from usual activities, changes in school performance, aggressive or regressive behavior, sudden/continual protesting when left with caregivers, fire-starting, animal abuse, unusual interest/knowledge of sexual matters inappropriate for a child?s age.Older children and teens may run away, become truant or rebellious, abuse alcohol or controlled substances, may be sexually promiscuous, may become depressed or have suicide ideations or attempt suicide, or engage in self-mutilation or self-injurious behaviors.No one sign indicates sexual abuse has happened. But if a parent is noticing these types of behaviors, it is usually an indication that something is wrong. The child should be encouraged to talk about the problem.

I feel out of control, what can I do?

Remember that the feelings you are experiencing are normal, and that it could be beneficial for you to speak with a professional counselor or advisor about the thoughts and feelings that are bothersome to you. Feeling overwhelmed and out of control can happen, but it doesn?t mean there is something wrong with you.

Will I ever feel better (back to myself)?

Over time, and with the help of a professional, you can process the abuse and move forward in the healing process. We can help.

Are the services provided by the Center free? How do I access them?

We are a non-profit agency, supported by the United Way Fox Cities and many other community organizations and foundations. All of the services we offer are offered at NO COST to survivors of sexual assault or sexual abuse, their families, and loved ones. To find out more, call the Sexual Assault Crisis Center at 920.733.8119 or 1.800.722.7797.

Does sexual abuse or assault happen to boys and men?

Yes, 11% of all sexual assault victims are male. One in four victims of sexual assault under the age of 12 are boys.

What are some signs of potentially abusive relationships?

Some of the warning signs of being in an abusive dating relationship include: quick involvement in the relationship, any physical harm, a history of abusing partners, trying to control different aspects of your life (including how you dress, who you socialize with, what you say, etc.) humiliating you, acting jealous and possessive but telling you that she/he loves you, threatening to harm you in any way at any time, making you feel that you are to blame for his/her actions, demanding to know where you are at all times, pressuring or forcing you to do anything sexually that you do not want to do, and controlling the decision making in the relationship.

I was under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs when I was assaulted: does that matter?

No one asks to be abused, injured, or humiliated. No one ever deserves to be abused or assaulted. Being under the influence of a controlled substance is not justification for sexually assaulting you. Alcohol is a weapon that some rapists use to control their victim and render them helpless. A rapist will encourage a victim to use alcohol, or identify an individual who is already drunk. Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of the many tools that rapists use.