Support for sexual assault survivors is still availableWritten by SAFE
Amid the chaos of COVID-19, violence continues in our community. People affected by sexual assault often face daunting decisions about how and whether to ask for help — decisions that are all the more difficult when the near-closure of the city has limited everyone’s access to resources.
Eloise House, like many other departments at SAFE, has fought hard and implemented creative measures to continue delivering vital services.
Seeking support after a sexual assault
A survivor recently arrived at SAFE to complete a forensic exam and receive medical care at Eloise House. Her attacker, a member of her extended family who she and her children had been living with, sexually assaulted her and threatened to hurt her children if she told anyone. After finding a safe way to leave, she arrived with her children at our clinic without a support network to rely on, financial resources, transportation, or even a safe place to stay the night.
Advocates, forensic nurses, and program leadership collaborated over a few days to support the survivor in her journey toward a safer future. After finding a way for her to spend two nights in a motel, she and her children were able to get into shelter at SAFE. The combination of staff hours and available resources (a telehealth platform for social distancing, hours of service from interpreters, multiple ride-shares, an HEB gift card, a Goodwill gift card, toiletries, food, clothes, a phone charger, surgical masks, and not least of all, our Family Shelter) made the difference in supporting this survivor in putting a plan for her and her children’s safety in motion.
When survivors come to SAFE, they are already powerful. In support of this power, our resources help break down barriers to safety so that survivors are as free as possible to make the decisions that are best for them.
What you can do
If you think you or someone you know may have been sexually assaulted, you have options. Remember that rape is never your fault, no matter the circumstances.
Regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status, SAFE can provide you:
- A safe, confidential, and free medical forensic exam at SAFE’s Eloise House with our gentle, specially qualified nurses. They can provide both medical care and evidence collection. That can include medicine to prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, a physical exam, support from specialized advocates, and referrals to physical and mental health care providers. It can also include collecting evidence that could help a criminal investigation. It’s up to you. If there is any part of the exam you are uncomfortable with, you can skip it.
- Advice and support for seeing your own doctor or going to an emergency room. You can see your own doctor for medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections and to check to be sure you’re okay. You can also go to a hospital emergency room if you need emergency care.
If you’re still deciding whether or not you want to do anything, you can call our 24/7 SAFEline at 512.267.SAFE (7233), text our advocates anytime, anywhere at 737.888.7233, or chat with us online at safeaustin.org/chat.
Our staff will talk with you about your options and support you to make decisions about the kind of care you want.