Support for Victims/Survivors
- Immediate Help if You've Been Sexually Assaulted
- What to do While in an Abusive Relationship
- What to do After Leaving an Abusive Relationship
- What Can I Do if I Am Being Stalked?
- Go to a safe place.
- If you want to report the assault, notify the UMKC police or KCPD immediately. Reporting the crime can help you regain a sense of personal power and control and can also help to ensure the safety of other potential victims.
- Call a friend, a family member, the UMKC Victim Services Adjudication Advisor, or someone else you trust and ask her or him to stay with you.
- Preserve all physical evidence of the assault. Do not shower, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth. Save all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag. Do not use plastic bags. Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred.
- Go to a hospital emergency department or a specialized forensic clinic that provides medical care for sexual assault victims. Those in the UMKC community are encouraged to go to St. Luke’s Hospital or Truman Medical Center for medical care and evidence collection 24 hours a day. Even if you think you don’t have physical injuries, you should still have a medical examination and discuss with a health care provider the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and the possibility of pregnancy resulting from the sexual assault. You will not be required to report the sexual assault to the police in order to receive medical care. If you suspect that you may have been given a rape drug, ask the hospital where you receive medical care to take urine sample. The urine sample should be preserved as evidence. Rape drugs, such as Rohypnol and GHB, are more likely to be detected in urine than in blood.
- Talk with a counselor who is trained to assist rape victims about the emotional and physical impacts of the assault. The UMKC Women’s Center has a Victim Service’s Adjudication Advisor available to provide advocacy and referrals to medical, legal and other support services on-campus and off-campus to students, staff, and faculty. There are also specially trained therapists available at MOCSA.
- If you currently are not in the Kansas City area, but want information about legal issues, medical care, or other concerns related to the assault, a rape treatment center or a rape hot line can assist you. One national victim assistance agency is called RAINN and they can be contacted by calling 1-800-656-HOPE. RAINN will connect you with a rape crisis center in your area. (http://www.rainn.org/).
- For more on-campus and off-campus resources please refer to: (http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/services/domestic_and_sexual_violence.asp).
If you are currently in an abusive relationship, the immediate concern is your personal safety. UMKC, VSAA, and Rose Brooks advocates can help you create a safety plan. Sometimes victims of relationship violence fear that individuals will try to make them leave the relationship. Although some people may have that goal, whether or not you leave, and when, are choices that only you can make. If you do choose to leave the relationship, safety planning can help you figure out how to do so safely; if you are not ready to do so yet, or want to continue in the relationship, these services can help you develop safety plans and cope with the feelings raised by violence.
One of the biggest fears victims of relationship violence have about leaving is that their partner will come after them and hurt them even more. This is a valid fear, as violence does tend to escalate when the victim leaves. Because of this, it is important to develop a safety plan with the help of friends, family members, counselors, advocates, and the police. Although you do not have to talk to the police unless you want to, they can be helpful in obtaining emergency orders of protection and protecting your safety.
Besides personal safety, survivors of intimate partner violence have to deal with emotional reactions to having been physically, emotionally, and/or sexually abused by a loved one. It is common to experience depression, feelings of helplessness and rage, hopelessness, self-blame, and fear. Support from friends, family members, and often counselors or advocates can help you in your recovery. Shelters are also available to help you get back on your feet, and are especially important if you were economically dependent on your partner. There are a number of shelters in the Kansas City area that are free of charge, most of which accept children as well. Unfortunately, most shelters do not provide residential services for male victims of domestic violence, but most will provide assistance in finding a safe place and accessing other resources. (http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/services/domestic_and_sexual_violence.asp)
What can I do?
If you are currently, or have been, abused by your partner, or think you might be, it is important that you talk to someone. There are a number of services available both on and off campus, including the UMKC Victim Services Adjudication Advisor, UMKC Counseling Center, and the UMKC LGBTQIA Resource Center. KCAVP (Kansas City Anti-Violence Project) is a community resource that is committed to providing domestic violence, sexual assault, and bias crimes advocacy and education the LBGT community (http://www.kcavp.org/). All of these offices are staffed with people who are sensitive to the issues in both opposite-sex and same-sex intimate partner violence and can help you both to recover from the abusive relationship and to find other services and assistance you might need.
Only you know your own situation and you are the best person to make judgments about what you should do. If you are being stalked, however, you do have a number of options to protect yourself and to recover.
- Discussing stalking with a professional can help you to assess the dangerousness of the situation, become aware of your options, and help you to cope with the stress involved. The UMKC Women’s Center has a Victim Services Adjudication Advisor available who can help you and provide guidance as you make decisions.
- It is also important that you take steps to protect your safety. Some options are:
- Calling the police - stalking is illegal and you have a right to protection under the law. The police can also help you to obtain an emergency order of protection, which will guarantee their response if the stalker violates the order by initiating contact with you. It is important to note, however, that in certain cases restraining type orders can escalate the stalking situation.
- Taking steps to make your environment safer, such as locking doors, installing an alarm system, getting a dog, and getting caller ID or an unlisted number.
- Telling others about the situation so that they can help you (e.g., roommates, friends, family, partner, your employer). It can be useful to provide them with a picture of the person and a copy of a restraining order, if you have one.
- Communicate clearly and directly to the stalker that you do not want him/her to contact you again in any way, including phone calls, emails, gifts, showing up at your work or home, contacting your family, friends, or co-workers, or in any other manner.
- It can also be useful to document stalking behaviors, especially if you intend to press charges against the stalker (and even if you are not currently planning on it, you may change your mind, in which case it will be helpful to have the documentation).
- Save answering machine tapes, gifts, letters, texts and emails.
- Keep a log of drive-bys, contacts by phone or in-person and other suspicious circumstances.
- Document the date, time and details of an incident, as well as any witnesses and how the incident made you feel (e.g., threatened, scared, unsafe, etc.). If you are safely able to take photographs of the incidents, do so (e.g. if the stalker is sitting outside your work/residence in a vehicle).
Stalking is often very frightening and can contribute to feelings of being out of control, so it is important that you receive support as you deal with both current or past stalking. Support groups are often helpful, as is talking to a counselor. It is also important that you let the people around you know that you are being stalked, both so that they can provide you emotional support and so that they can call the police if the stalker comes near them or tries to reach you.