Know Your Options

After a rape or sexual assault an advocate can help you understand your options.

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  • Advocates are people specially trained to help you understand your options. An advocate won’t make decisions for you; instead, an advocate can help you make the decision that’s right for you.
  • Advocacy services are free and confidential.
  • If you are under the age of 18, you do have privacy rights for medical treatment and advocacy services. But there could be some exceptions to those privacy rights. An advocate can help explain the exceptions to you.  You can also call a crisis line anonymously to learn more about how an advocate can support you, and what options are available to you.
  • For more information about what an advocate does, watch this short video.

Contact an advocate near you by clicking here.

The sooner you seek medical care after the assault, the better.

  • Seek medical care at the closest hospital emergency room or an emergency room where you feel comfortable going. Some emergency rooms have nurses and doctors specially trained to treat rape and sexual assault survivors. An advocate may be able to go to the emergency room with you.
  • The exam will provide you with medical care, including medications to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, and collect any evidence of the rape that might be on your body. Forensic evidence is typically most viable if collected as soon as possible, but keep in mind that exams can usually take place up to 120 hours (5 days) after an assault. Additionally, many preventative medications are most effective if taken within a few days of an assault. To get a better sense of whether you are within a forensic exam window or not, please contact an advocate in your area.  For more information on sexual assault kit testing, click here.
  • Try not to take a bath or a shower, brush your teeth or go to the bathroom until you’ve gotten medical care. If you have already done some or all of those things, though, evidence may still be available for collection.
  • You have the option of providing the clothing and underwear you were wearing during the assault as forensic evidence. Consider bringing these articles of clothing in a paper (not plastic) bag and/or bring an extra change of clothes to the exam with you.
  • Exams are available to anyone who was sexually assaulted regardless of alcohol consumption, drug use, sex work, gender and/or immigration status.
  • For more information about the medical exam, watch this short video.

You can receive medical help without deciding whether to report the assault to the police.

  • You can usually have the exam first and then take some time to think about reporting the crime to police. Whether or not you report your rape or sexual assault to the police is your decision.  An advocate can help you understand how this option works in your area.

You are not responsible for the cost of the rape kit examination.

  • The Minnesota county where the rape or sexual assault occurred is responsible for the cost of collecting evidence during the exam, whether you report the rape to the police or not.
  • Additional medical treatment such as medications or treatment of injuries may need to be paid by the patient or the patient’s insurance, per the patient’s agreement.  Costs to the patient vary depending on the county and hospital.
  • An advocate can help answer more questions about the exam, exam payment, and other aspects of an emergency room visit.

Sexual assault causes a range of emotional and physical responses.

  • There is no one “right way” to react to a rape or sexual assault. Emotional and physical reactions vary across all individuals and situations—whatever you’re feeling is okay. Please consider calling an advocate if you would like to know more about responses to sexual assault.

Contact an advocate near you by clicking here.

The information on this website is a general statement of law and policy. If you have specific questions please contact your local advocacy program for assistance.


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