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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions
Recent Adult Sexual Assault
Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault
Reporting Sexual Assault
Sex Offenders

General Questions

Is there a charge for services?
There is no fee for KCSARC advocacy services to victims/survivors or their related support people. Therapy services are obtained through insurance or sliding, negotiable fees.

Who's eligible for services?
KCSARC services are for anyone who has experienced sexual assault recently or in the past, as well as those who are impacted by the sexual assault of another. Anyone, at anytime, can call our 24-hour Resource Line at 1.888.99.VOICE (1.888.998.6423) to get specific information about how we may be able to assist, or call our main office line at 425-226-5062 during business hours and ask to speak with a Client Care Specialist.

Are your services confidential?
YES! We do not disclose your personal information to anyone outside of the agency without your permission. Our goal is to provide you with accurate information, immediate support and on-going services that will support your healing process. To this end, we are interested in empowering you to make decisions and choices about who should have information about the abuse. The exceptions to this are 1) if we have information about a child (under the age of 18) or a vulnerable adult being harmed. We are mandated by the State of Washington (RCW 26.44.030) to report this to the proper authorities; 2) if we believe there is a risk for homicide or suicide, then we are required to report to law enforcement.

Is there any fund set up to pay for costs related to a sexual assault?
The Washington State Crime Victims Compensation (CVC) Program is available to assist many victims of sexual assault. The program requires that you report to law enforcement within one year of the crime, or within one year of when a report could reasonably be made. You then must file an application with the CVC program within a certain time period no less than 2 years. You can receive an application form by calling our 24-hour Resource Line (1.888.99.VOICE) or by calling CVC directly at 1.800.762.3716. The other important piece of information about this fund is that it pays for the initial medical exam, but other insurance carriers must first cover any further expenses before CVC will contribute.

Recent Adult Sexual Assault

I was just sexually assaulted, What should I do?
Our first concern is for your physical and emotional well being. Get yourself to a "safe" place where you will not feel in further danger. Everyone handles personal crisis differently. A sexual assault threatens a person's physical as well as emotional safety. Sexual assault is a personal attack like no other. When someone is sexually assaulted, the first instinct is to bathe/shower to wash away all memories of the rape. It is best for the sake of evidence collecting to avoid bathing until after a forensic medical exam at your local hospital emergency room. If you reside in the King County area, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle is equipped to provide you with this exam. There is no cost to you for this initial emergency exam. The hospital will bill Crime Victims Compensation directly for the cost of the exam. If you have already bathed, rest easy. You can still report to the police if you choose to and there may be evidence in your clothes that can be preserved. For adults, reporting to the police is an individual choice. You can go to the hospital emergency room within 72 hours of the assault to be checked out physically without reporting to the police. The most important thing is to get some assurance from a doctor that you are physically well. If you have further questions, do not hesitate to call our 24-hour Resource Line and speak to an advocate counselor. They can talk you through what you can expect from a medical exam or the initial police report. The advocate can also connect you with our follow up services which can include counseling or legal advocacy.

Child & Adolescent Sexual Abuse

I just found out that my son/daughter was abused. What should I do?
This is probably one of the most difficult things you will hear your child say. The knowledge that someone has harmed your child brings about an immediate flood of emotions. However, there are people who can help you and your family through this. Our 24-hour Resource Line Advocate Counselors are waiting for your call. They can give you the support that you need to in turn support your child. But even more than that, they can provide you with accurate information as to what your options for next steps are.

When kids (under 18 years old) are sexually abused, KCSARC is mandated to report the abuse to Children's Protective Services and law enforcement. These agencies are charged with protecting children. CPS will assess the current situation as well as the threat of any future harm. Their goal is to assess for safety of the child. Law enforcement gets involved to investigate the allegation. They will need to make sure that a statement is taken from you to establish the nature of the crime. It is also possible that the officer will want to collect any evidence that you know of that would link the offender with the victim. After this they will pass the information on to a detective in their department to set up a formal interview. With younger children, a Child Interview Specialist at the prosecutor's office will do this interview. Older children are interviewed directly by the detective investigating the case, or a prosecutor at the prosecutor’s office. After this point an investigation will ensue.

If you know that your child was sexually abused within 72 hours, s/he should be seen by a trained emergency room medical doctor or SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) nurse. If you reside in King County, Harborview Medical Center is equipped to conduct a comprehensive exam. This initial exam will be directly billed to Crime Victims Compensation and will not be charged to you. Evidence preservation can be an important element in holding an offender accountable to this crime. If the abuse occurred after this time-frame, it is still wise to get a medical evaluation done. Contact the Client Care Specialist at KCSARC to get information about whether your child should be seen at a specialized clinic, or by your family doctor.

Will CPS take my kids?
Children's Protective Services (CPS) is responsible for ensuring that children are safe. If the offender is out of the home and you, as the non-offending parent/guardian are protective, there would be no reason to remove a child from their home. If there is concern that the offender will return, or the parent/guardian is non-supportive of the child, they may choose to make plans for alternative placement.

How do I know if my child needs therapy? And how long will it take?
Many children who have been sexually abused can benefit from therapy of some sort. The type and length of treatment is based on every child's differing needs. The goal of therapy at this point is to provide a safe, non-threatening environment for them to sort through their thoughts as well as receive relevant information and teaching. The methods used to achieve these goals are tailored to the age and developmental stage of each child or adolescent. The effects of abuse may impact kids differently at various stages in their development. This is a normal process of healing. What is significant to a child at age eight will be different when they turn sixteen. Different developmental stages bring new concerns to the surface. Children under the age of five may benefit more from active support from their parent. KCSARC has one-on-one classes that give clear information to parents about being the primary support person to their child following a sexual assault. A parent who is actively engaged in the emotional well-being of their young child may be more beneficial than individual therapy.

I'm a teenager. Can I report to the police and keep it from my parents?
Police will take a report of a crime from any victim. However, keeping it confidential will be very difficult. There are many people involved in bringing an offender to justice. Very likely, somewhere along the way, someone will end up talking to your parents not realizing that you wanted to keep it confidential. Our Legal Advocates can assist you in sorting out all of the concerns that you have regarding your parents. Many teens will benefit greatly to have the support of their parents as they go through the criminal justice process. And although it would be difficult to keep your involvement with the criminal justice system confidential, the information that you share with your KCSARC advocate is confidential.

Will I get in trouble for telling?
Kids and teens are often worried about what will happen after they talk about being sexually abused. Many blame themselves for causing all of the things that happen after a disclosure. The reality is that none of this activity would be going on if the abuser never abused. When offenders choose to abuse kids, they are causing great harm to children and deserve to be held accountable. Unfortunately, the process of holding an offender accountable often throws victims into a lot of unexpected turmoil. But the bottom line is that you are not the one that will be in trouble. The abuser who hurt you will be the one who will be in trouble.

Some kids and teens are afraid of getting into trouble if they were doing things they were told not to, or may even be illegal. It is best to be honest throughout the whole process. Those handling the case would rather hear things from you, than be surprised by hearing it from a third party. In most circumstances, the assault would be at the forefront of everyone's mind and the focus on the case would be on the perpetrator's behavior. If you have further questions about this, call our 24-hour Resource Line (1.888.99.VOICE). You will not be asked to give your name or any identifying information. The advocate's first priority is your well-being.

Reporting Issues

How do I know if what has happened is against the law?
It is hard for the general public to know what is considered illegal according to the laws of a particular State. Generally speaking, if someone has sexual contact with you, and you say "no", it is against the law. However, the ability to prove this fact in a court of law is a whole different threshold. The most important element in this equation is YOU. KCSARC can assist you in your decision about police reporting; give you accurate information from which to base your decisions; provide you with emotional support in the aftermath; provide counseling or give you community referrals. We are interested in giving you the kind of support that will assist you to move forward in your healing.

What if I just have questions about a sexual assault, but don't want to report to the police?
KCSARC's 24-hour Resource Line is available to answer any questions while you remain anonymous. Additionally, adults have the freedom to decide whether or not to report to the police. Everyone's situation is different and there are many reasons why you may not see reporting to the police as a viable option. We are very interested in making sure that individuals have accurate information from which to base this decision. Kids, adolescents (under age 18), and vulnerable adults are protected under Washington State law and therefore many people in the helping professions are mandated to report the suspected sexual abuse of these individuals. If you continue to have questions after talking to the 24-hour Resource Line Advocate, they can connect you with a Legal Advocate who can further process the problem with you. Legal advocates can answer your many questions about what will happen if you make a report to the police. If later you decide to report, they can assist you through the criminal justice process.

I don't want everyone to find out. Do the police need my name? Will they make it public?
Confidentiality is a high priority for KCSARC. You will be asked to give your name to the police when you report. Legally, they need to have the name of the person filing the complaint because you serve as the "witness" to the crime. In a sexual assault, the victim is generally the only witness to the crime and is also the person bringing the complaint forward. The police will generally try to keep the names of victims confidential. It is important to know, however, that your name will appear on the official police report that gets forwarded to the prosecutor's office. If the prosecutor files charges against the perpetrator, and this person is arraigned, documents become a record open to the public. Prosecutors and police make every effort to keep your name from appearing choosing initials instead, but it is out of courtesy that this is done and is not the law. It is possible for your name to be released. It is the practice of most media personnel to withhold victim names.

How do I press charges against the person who assaulted me?
The laws and the process following a sexual assault can be very complicated to the layperson. Technically speaking, victims do not "press charges, " and do not need to hire a private attorney. In the state of Washington, the first step to initiate criminal action is to report the assault to the police. The police are responsible for determining whether or not there is "probable cause," or reasonable cause, to believe that the crime likely occurred. After they conduct an investigation they may send the case to the prosecutor's office. During the investigation and decision-making process, the victim, as well as anyone else involved in the incident, will be interviewed by the police and possibly by a prosecuting attorney. Victims have a legal right to have an advocate present with them during an interview. After reviewing the facts of the case, the prosecutor makes the decision whether or not to file charges against an "alleged" perpetrator. The word "alleged" is used because defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. A KCSARC Legal Advocate can keep you informed of each step in the process so that you can remain an active participant in the case. Your Legal Advocate will also provide you with the emotional support that most people need following a sexual assault. Your voice is important throughout the process.

Will they arrest the person who did this to me and keep them in jail?
Many perpetrators are arrested, but most are eligible to post bail. It is unusual for the person to remain incarcerated while awaiting trial, but there are occasions where that occurs. Eligibility for bail is generally determined by whether the person poses a "flight risk." If the perpetrator has a job, family and close ties to a community, they will likely be eligible to pay a certain amount of money for release because the courts believe that they will remain in the area and show up for any future hearings. The bail money is returned, if they continue to return for all hearings.

How do I get a Legal Advocate?
If you are considering reporting to the police or have already made a report, a Legal Advocate can assist you with whatever comes next. Call our 24-hour Resource Line and let them know that you are interested in receiving a call from a Legal Advocate. Legal Advocates work out of our main office, but can meet you at any interviews and meetings that you are required to attend. They can assist you from the initial police report through the trial and sentencing process. They will keep you informed of the process as well as provide you with emotional support while your case proceeds through the system.

Sex Offenders

Why did I receive a Sex Offender Notification Flier?
The Community Protection Act of 1990 requires that Sex Offenders register in the community where they live. Communities are notified when a Level 2 or Level 3 Sex Offender registers a new address. The law is intended to make us aware about a particular offender, their conviction, and to share resources to help keep communities protected.

What is a Registered Sex Offender?
Sex Offenders who have committed a Class A, Class B or Class C felony are required to register for life, fifteen years, and ten years, respectively.

Why Didn't I Receive a Sex Offender Notification Flier?
King County Sheriff's Office mails fliers to an area of 1,000 or more addresses approximately within one square mile of the offender's residence in unincorporated King County. Not every city or community mails out Notification fliers. It is up to each jurisdiction to determine how they notify the community. Some cities post the information on their website, while some cities hand deliver fliers. Call your local police department for more information.

Will I be Notified When the Sex Offender Moves?
No, the law requires communities be notified when a sex offender moves into a community, not when they move out.

What do the Sex Offender Levels Mean?
Sex Offender levels are determined by taking into account several factors about the offender and the nature of their crime in order to determine possible risk to the general public.

  • Level 1: The majority of sex offenders fall into this category; least violent offender and lowest risk to re-offend within community at large. You may call law enforcement to ask about a specific individual if you suspect they might be a sex offender, but the law does not mandate community notification.

  • Level 2: Moderate risk to re-offend within community at large; more than one victim; took advantage of a position of trust and authority, such as a teacher, coach, clergy, or babysitter.

  • Level 3: High risk to re-offend within the community at large; violence used; victims unknown to the offender.

Why Didn't I Know About this Sooner?
Flyers are mailed out after an offender registers as a sex offender, and after the jurisdiction in which they register requests, receives, and reviews all original information about the offender's offense. This can take two weeks to several months. Once all the necessary information is reviewed, the jurisdiction may or may not change the Sex Offender's Level. This review must be complete and an in person verification that the offender is in fact residing at their registered address, before a community is notified.

Can I Copy and Distribute the Flyer?
If you believe other community members should receive a flyer, you may copy and distribute it (within reason). It is against the law to alter the flyer in any way. It is illegal to plaster the community by posting flyers everywhere.

How Can I Use Information About the Offender?
It is against the law to abuse this information in any way to threaten, intimidate, or harass registered offenders. Such abuse could end law enforcement's ability to notify communities.

I'm Not Happy about this Flyer!
People respond in many different ways to receiving a Sex Offender Notification flyer. It is normal to feel upset, angry, and worried about a sex offender living in your community. The law was created to inform the public when a Level 2 or Level 3 Sex Offender moves into the community, and to provide that community with protection education and resources.

Why Should I Attend the Meeting?
You will have an opportunity to hear different service providers speak about the particular offender moving into your area, Topics may vary, but in general include: information and history of Sex Offender laws; information regarding the particular offender *Under HIPPA, the privacy of every individual is protected. Information on the offender's treatment, medication, or diagnosis is not releasable by law.* Attending the meeting also provides an opportunity to connect with other members of your community. This can lead to further conversations and future planning of community protection.

Who Can I Expect to See at the Meeting?
Members from local or county law enforcement; members from the Department of Corrections (DOC) if the offender is a "under supervision (see below for more about this); representative from a community victim advocacy agency; and possibly members of the local school district.

Will the Offender be at the Meeting?
Offenders are strongly discouraged from attending their Community Notification Meeting. On rare occasions they are present, but they are not part of the meeting agenda. Sometimes, there are family members and friends of the offender or victim present.

Where Can I Learn More About Community Protection?
Find out what community protection programs your neighborhood has by calling your local police department. You can become involved in or start a "Neighborhood Block watch," "Citizens on Patrol," or other neighborhood safety programs. You can call the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center to speak to the Education & Prevention Department at 425.226.5062 or our 24-hour Sexual Assault Resource Line at 1.888.99.VOICE.

Does the Offender Have Restrictions on Where They Can Live?
It depends on whether the offender is "Under Supervision" by the Department of Corrections. If the Offender is "Under Supervision" they have certain limitations or restrictions placed on them by the Department of Corrections upon their release from incarceration. These may include: not being around children; having a curfew; or not drinking alcohol/taking drugs. If they are found to be in violation of their restrictions, they may be sent back to prison. Offenders who have completed their time "Under supervision" can live where they choose without restrictions.

What do I do if I see the Offender (or anyone) Doing Something I Think is Suspicious?
Call 911 and report it. It is best to let law enforcement handle the situation rather than taking it into your own hands. If you know an offender's specific restrictions and you witness a violation, call 911 or call the Community Corrections Officer from the Department of Corrections.