Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted:

  • Go to a safe place.
  • Call a safe person. Don’t try to go through this alone. You are not to blame!
  • Preserve evidence. Don’t bathe or brush your teeth. It’s best not to even change clothes, but if you do, save each item of clothing in a separate paper bag.
  • If on-campus, call Campus Safety at ext. 3-3333
  • Call 776-RAPE (7273) the 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline. A trained volunteer advocate will be paged to call you and help you decide what to do.
  • Seek medical attention. The Nurse Examiner Program at the YWCA provides a free physical exam including the Rape Evidence Kit. Their female personnel are specialized and the setting is private. If injuries are severe, going to the nearest hospital emergency room is appropriate. An exam is pertinent up to 96 hours post-assault for evidence to be collected. Also, it is important for injuries to be treated and STD and pregnancy testing to be done.
  • Call the Grand Rapids Police at 456-3400

Other frequently asked questions

Why go for help?

Because you may have internal injuries, you need to have a physical examination. Also the risks for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy need to be discussed. Additionally, the assault needs to be legally documented and evidence collected; this is referred to as the Medical-Legal Exam.

Even if your initial thought is you would never go to court, it is best to have the evidence collected in case you change your mind later.

The Medical-Legal Exam can be done up to 96 hours post-assault. To minimize compounding evidence, however, the sooner you have the exam done, the better. If more time has elapsed, a physical exam is still strongly recommended.

What is involved in making a police report?

When the Grand Rapids Police are called (456-3400), a rape response officer will be dispatched. The officer will secure evidence at the scene of the assault and take your statement as to what happened. It is possible that the police will transport you to the YWCA Nurse Examiner Program if you so desire.

In order to investigate the crime, a police detective will question you, collect evidence from the crime scene, receive the evidence obtained by the nurse examiner at the YWCA or the hospital, and take a formal statement. The police will protect your anonymity.

Questioning will usually focus on the events prior to the initial contact with the assailant, a detailed account of the behavior and words used by the assailant, circumstances of the assault, and a description of the assailant. They may also ask about when you last had consensual sex. Questioning is done in a non-judgmental manner. In preparation for this interview, you may wish to write down your account in advance.

What if the victim was drinking?

Rape or sexual assault is not the fault of the victim. When intoxicated, one cannot be considered as giving consent. See Calvin College Sexual Offences/Sexual Misconduct Policies. The victim will not be under discipline for drinking.

What about professional counseling?

Each survivor has his/her own recovery timetable. Some people are ready for counseling right away and others are not. Being heard by someone who is objective, supportive, and non-judgmental is crucial.

Free on-campus, confidential counseling is available for students through the Broene Counseling Center . The YWCA Counseling Center offers six free sessions of crisis counseling. They also offer ongoing individual and group counseling on a sliding fee scale. The Broene Center also can recommend other off-campus therapists if you choose.

How can support persons help?

The survivor of sexual assault has been through a very traumatic experience and it is important that she/he receive support, assistance, and accurate information. Your being there in a supportive way is immensely valuable.

Allow the survivor to make choices and remain in control. Give reassurance that she/he is not to blame. Listen as she/he talks about the experience. Be accepting of the survivor's many emotional reactions including anger, fear, anxiety, and depression.

There is literature and consultation available in the Broene Counseling Center for friends, husbands, boyfriends, fathers and other significant people who want help in understanding and supporting you, and also in understanding their own feelings.