Sexual violence takes many forms, including rape, intimate partner sexual assault, military sexual trauma, and child sexual abuse, among others.

While the term “sexual assault” can sometimes refer to a broad range of unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault in Texas is legally defined as rape. 

A 2012 national study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five adult American women — and one in 71 men — will be raped in their lifetime.

A 2015 study by the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at the University of Texas found that approximately two in five Texas women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, while only 9% will report the assault.

In most cases, the attacker is someone known to the victim, like a friend, family member or roommate. If someone is pressuring you to engage in sexual activity that you are not comfortable with, it is important to identify ways to exit that situation safely. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) has extensive resources on safety planning, bystander intervention, alcohol facilitated sexual assault, online safety and more here.

You have options. Rape is never your fault, no matter the circumstances.

To talk confidentially with someone about your options, contact our 24/7 SAFEline by calling 512.267.SAFE (7233), texting 737.888.7233, or chatting at safeaustin.org/chat

1) You have the right to have a free, private exam with or without reporting to police within four to five days of the assault by a specially qualified nurse at our Grove Blvd. campus. They can provide both medical care and evidence collection. If there is any part of the exam you are uncomfortable with, you can choose to skip it.

2) You can see your own doctor for medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections and for medical evaluation.

3) You can be seen in a hospital emergency department if you need emergency care. Victims have the right to speak with a specially trained advocate about their options. Ask the hospital to call SAFE’s forensic dispatch line, or you can call our SAFEline at 512.267.SAFE (7233).

4) You can call 9-1-1 and report the assault. You have the right to request a forensic exam from the police if you would like to have one completed. SAFE advocates can assist you with making a police report if you wish.

Anyone over the age of 18 has the right to receive a forensic exam, if they choose.

Victims of sexual assault have the right to apply for a protective order with the County Attorney’s Office at  314 W. 11th Street, Suite 300, Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.. 

If you feel that you have experienced sexual assault, abuse or exploitation, you can learn more about how SAFE can help.

Resources

  • The Texas Attorney General’s Office outlines the crime victim’s compensation program, protective order information, the address confidentiality program and rights of crime victims. Learn more here
  • The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault provides a full list of victim rights in criminal proceedings. If you have reported your assault to the police and have questions about your legal rights, visit their website here. 
  • The Austin/Travis County Sexual Assault Response and Resource Team released a Community Needs Assessment in 2018 to better understand the community response to sexual assault. The assessment is available here.

How to help

If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted, it is important that you believe them. Offer non-judgmental support and connect them to resources if they have questions. Sometimes the most important thing you can do is to simply listen if they are ready to talk about it.

1Centers for Disease Control (2012) Sexual Violence Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/sv-datasheet-a.pdf