What is Sexual Assault?
In Colorado Sexual Assault & Rape are synonymous. Sexual assault is sexual penetration or intrusion without your consent. This crime also covers circumstances when you are mentally incapable of giving consent to any sexual contact, including being in a coma or passed out from drug alcohol use. Sexual assault can happen anywhere or anytime.
Threats, intimidation, manipulation, physical force, or abuse of power are commonly used to get the victim to comply. The perpetrator may be a stranger, an acquaintance, a friend, co-worker, classmate, family member, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner or spouse.
More often than not, the perpetrator is someone the victim knows.
Sexual assault is a crime.
No matter what the circumstances, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.
Reporting Options for Survivors of Sexual Assault
Colorado offers 3 reporting options for adult survivors of sexual assault ages 18 through 69. Please note that, due to other mandatory reporting obligations, these reporting options do not apply to minors or at risk adults. For individuals who do not fall under these two categories, survivors have the following 3 options:
- Law Enforcement Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam and chooses to participate with law enforcement and the criminal justice system at the time of the exam.
- Medical Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam but, at that time, chooses not to participate with law enforcement or the criminal justice system. Evidence is collected and released to law enforcement with identifying victim information. A victim can choose to have the evidence tested.
- Anonymous Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam but, at that time, chooses not to participate with law enforcement or the criminal justice system. Evidence is collected and released to law enforcement without the victim’s identifying information. An anonymous reporting victim is consenting to evidence storage only.
If you are a victim of sexual assault call 9-1-1 or go to a hospital that provides a sexual assault nurse examiner’s (SANE) program.
What is a SANE/SAFE?
A sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) also known as sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) is a Registered Nurse (RN) who has completed specialized training in the comprehensive care and treatment of adult, adolescent and child victims of sexual assault. A SANE/SAFE has the ability to conduct a medical forensic exam with or without evidence collection. A SANE/SAFE will provide you with compassionate care and treatment of any injuries, resulting from the assault, and provide crisis intervention and resources.
The SANE/SAFE Program provides a safe environment to receive prompt care and begin the healing process.
What is the Medical Forensic Exam?
When you experience a sexual assault, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A medical forensic exam is a comprehensive medical exams administered at a hospital by a SANE/SAFE. You are in control of the entire exam. A nurse will only complete the parts of the exam that you agree to have done.
A medical forensic exam includes:
- Prompt, compassionate care and treatment.
- Preventative treatment for sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception.
- Referral for additional treatment or services.
- Skilled collection of evidence that may be used in subsequent police investigation and prosecution.
- Note: It is your choice to have evidence collected. Even if you don’t want evidence collected, it is strongly recommended that you seek medical attention.
Is there a fee?
In Colorado, medical forensic exams are provided free of charge to you, regardless of whether you choose to report the assault to law enforcement. In addition to the cost for the exam, you may be charged for other medical expenses that are not related to the exam. There may also be help available to cover these costs through Victim Compensation, or the State of Colorado’s Division of Criminal Justice.