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Answers to common questions

General information for adult survivors

I was just sexually assaulted, what should I do?

Our first concern is for your physical and emotional well-being.

  1. Get yourself to a “safe” place where you will not feel in further danger. Call 911 if you remain in imminent danger or need immediate and urgent medical attention.
  2. Consider seeking medical help, ideally within 5 days. Whether you choose to report your assault or not, you can go to the hospital emergency department within five days of the assault to be checked out physically; the most important thing is to get some assurance from a doctor that you are physically well. (Click here for a map of hospitals in King County that provide Sexual Assault Forensic Exams.) 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 collection to avoid bathing until after a forensic medical exam at your local hospital emergency room. If you have already bathed, there may still be evidence in your clothes that can be preserved.
  3. Consider reporting to law enforcement. For adults, reporting to the police is an individual choice. You can report right away, or it can be done later. Any evidence taken during a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam will be preserved, and you don’t have to decide right then and there whether to report. Our Resource Line advocates can walk you through your immediate options and help you decide.
  4. Remember, you are not alone, and an experienced, supportive advocate is here to help 24/7. 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. KCSARC’s Resource Line advocate can talk you through what you can expect from a medical exam or the initial police report. They can also connect you with follow- up services, like counseling or legal advocacy.
Is there a charge for services?

There is no fee for KCSARC support or advocacy services to victims/survivors or their related support people. Therapy services may be billed to insurance or on a sliding fee basis, however, cost is never a barrier to any service at KCSARC.

Who is eligible for services?

KCSARC services are for anyone in King County, WA who has experienced sexual assault — whether recently or in the past — as well as those who are directly affected by the sexual assault of another, such as a parent or caregiver.

And anyone, at any time, can call our 24-hour Resource Line at 1.888.99.VOICE (1.888.998.6423) to ask questions or get specific information about how we may be able to assist you or someone you care about. You can also call our main office line at 425.226.5062 during business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon-Fri) and ask to speak with a Client Care Specialist.

Are KCSARC services confidential?

YES! We do not disclose your personal information to anyone outside of the agency without your permission. And you can choose to keep your identity private when you call our 24-hour Resource Line for help or information.

Our goal is to provide you with accurate information, immediate support and ongoing 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.

Please note that KCSARC advocates are mandated reporters when we know a child or vulnerable adult is abused, or when someone is at risk for suicide or homicide. State law requires us to report to law enforcement when:

  • We have information about a child or teen under 18 or a vulnerable adult being harmed or
  • If we believe there is a risk for homicide or suicide.
Will I have to pay medical or other costs related to a sexual assault?

The Washington State Crime Victims Compensation (CVC) Program  is available to assist victims of sexual assault. You can contact CVC directly at 1.800.762.3716.

You can also contact our 24-hour Resource Line for more information.

Special considerations for parents or caregivers

I just found out that my child 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 Advocates are waiting for your call. They can give you the support that you need to support your child. But even more than that, they can provide you with accurate information as to what your options for next steps are.

  • If you believe that your child was sexually abused within the last 3 days/72 hours, they 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 or Seattle Children’s Hospital are equipped to conduct a comprehensive exam. This initial exam will be directly billed to Crime Victims Compensation and will not be charged to you.
  • If the abuse occurred longer than 3 days ago, it is still wise to get a medical evaluation done. Evidence preservation can be an important element in holding an offender accountable for this crime. Contact KCSARC to get information about whether your child should be seen at a specialized clinic, or by your family doctor.
What happens when a report of abuse is made?

When children or adolescents under 18 are sexually abused, KCSARC is mandated to report the abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS) 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 a Child Interview Specialist at the prosecutor’s office. From there, an investigation may follow.

Will Child Protective Services (CPS) take my kids?

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 offers one-on-one parent education that gives clear information to parents about their role as 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.

Will KCSARC contact me if my child or teen calls you for help?

Our client care specialists make every effort to include non-offending parents/caregivers in the conversation when a young person reports abuse, and encourage callers to consider who in their immediate circle could lend support as they process what happened to them.

When we have information that a child or young person (under 18 years old) has been sexually abused, KCSARC is required to report the abuse to CPS and law enforcement.

For children younger than 13…

Young people starting at age 13 may access behavioral health services without notification or consent by a parent or caregiver, including services at KCSARC.


Can my teenager receive KCSARC’s therapy treatment or legal advocacy services without my knowledge?

Yes, just as young people starting at age 13 can access behavioral health services without notification or consent by a parent or caregiver, they can also access therapy treatment and legal advocacy services at KCSARC.

For young people

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 legal system confidential, the information that you share with your KCSARC advocate is always confidential.

Will I get in trouble for telling?

Kids and teens often worry about what will happen after they talk about being sexually abused. Many blame themselves for causing all of the things that happen after they speak up.

It’s important to remember: what happened is not your fault.

When offenders choose to abuse kids, they deserve to be held accountable. You are not the one that will be in trouble. The person who hurt you will be the one in trouble.

Some young people are afraid of getting into trouble because they were doing things they were told not to or that may even be illegal. It is best to be honest throughout the whole process. The people handling the case would rather hear things from you than be surprised by hearing it from a third party. That will help them focus on the abuse and the behavior of the person who abused you.

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. Our first priority is your well-being.

Questions about reporting and the law

How do I know if what has happened is against the law?

It’s hard 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 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.

Children and adolescents under 18 and vulnerable adults are protected under Washington State law and therefore many people in the helping professions, including staff at KCSARC, are mandated to report the suspected sexual abuse of these individuals.

If you have more questions after talking to the 24-hour Resource Line advocate, they can connect you with one of our legal advocates who can further process the problem with you. Legal advocates can answer your 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, including media.

Prosecutors and police make every effort to keep your name from appearing by using initials instead, but it is out of courtesy that this is done, not the law. It is possible for your name to be released.

It has become the practice of most reputable media outlets to withhold victim names from any reporting unless they choose to share it themselves.

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?

Every case is individual, and we encourage you to discuss your options for reporting and safety planning with a KCSARC advocate.

Not all perpetrators are arrested, and if they are, most are eligible to post bail. It is actually unusual for the person facing charges 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 KCSARC 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 at 888.998.6423 and let them know that you are interested in receiving a call from a legal advocate.

Legal advocates can meet you at any interviews or meetings that you are required to attend in person or online. 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.

Where can I get information about the Sex Offender Registry?

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs maintains information and the Registry.

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