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What is sexual assault? Does what happened to me count?

Sexual assault is always wrong.

It is never the survivor’s fault.

Sexual assault is any sexual encounter that happens without your consent. It also includes situations in which you may be under the influence of any substance, are unconscious, or are unable to give informed consent due to disability or age:

  • rape (actual or attempted)

  • molestation

  • incest

  • harassment

  • partner/marital rape

  • indecent exposure

  • stalking

  • coercion

  • exploitation

  • exhibitionism

  • voyeurism

It is important to remember that being in a relationship, no matter for how long, does not give your partner the right to sexually abuse you or demand any kind of sexual activity that you do not want. This includes but is not limited to the following examples:

  • Unwanted touching

  • Rape: actual or attempted unwanted vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by an object or body part

  • Forcing or manipulating you into doing unwanted, painful, or degrading acts during intercourse

  • Taking advantage of you while you’re drunk or otherwise not likely to give consent

  • Denying you contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases

  • Taking any kind of sexual pictures or film of you without your consent

  • Forcing you to perform sexual acts on film or in person for money

  • Threatening to break up with you if you refuse sex

Sexual assault is always wrong. It is never the survivor’s fault. At RCASA, we hear you. We believe you. And we are here to support you.

I was sexually assaulted. What can I do?

Everyone handles crisis differently but your safety, physical, and emotional well-being are the first concerns. If the assault just happened, try to get to a place where you do not feel at risk of further danger. Then call the Crisis Hotline at (540) 371-1666 to speak to a crisis responder about your options. It is 100% free and confidential.


You may choose to go to the hospital.


Going to the hospital for a forensic medical exam (aka “Rape Kit”) can help identify injuries, protect you from STI’s, and address pregnancy concerns. You can choose to have evidence collected by medical staff within 72 hours of an assault. After an assault, the first instinct is often to bathe/shower. For evidence collecting, it is best to avoid bathing until after a forensic medical exam. However, if you have bathed, evidence may still be recovered, and the nurse will be able to evaluate injuries to determine what follow up care may be needed.


You are no required to speak to the police if you seek medical care for an assault.


Medical treatment and evidence collection following a sexual assault can be provided at Mary Washington Hospital emergency room.


There is no cost to you for the forensic medical exam and you do not need insurance.



You may choose to call the police


For persons 18 years and older, reporting to the police is an individual choice. You can contact your local police department, go to the station to make a report, or request to speak to an officer at the hospital. An RCASA advocate is available 24-hours a day to meet you and to support you through the process.


You may choose to call RCASA


Remember, you are not alone! RCASA advocates can meet you at the hospital, police station, or will just listen if you need someone to talk to. They will empower you to make informed choices by letting you know what your options are, and by connecting you with immediate and long-term resources on your path to healing.

There is help and you have options. 

You are not alone!

What can I expect when I call the hotline? 

Our crisis responders are nonjudgmental and treat each caller with respect and dignity. Every survivor has a unique circumstance and each call to the hotline results in an equally unique plan of action. Every caller, no matter their circumstance, will be believed, supported, and empowered. Typically, the crisis responder will ensure that the caller is safe in their immediate surroundings, and then actively listen to understand the caller’s experience. Crisis responders will help the caller understand and explore possible options, and then empower the caller to make choices that are best for their circumstance.

We treat each caller with respect and dignity.

How much does it cost to receive services from RCASA?

All advocacy, support groups, case management, and counseling services are provided by RCASA at no charge. You do not need insurance to receive our services. To schedule an intake appointment, click here.

You do not need insurance to receive our services.

Are the services at RCASA confidential?

Yes, the services at RCASA are confidential. Confidentiality means that what is discussed between a survivor and RCASA staff or volunteer advocates remains private within the agency. Click here to read more on RCASA's Privacy Standards.


*RCASA follows mandated reporting laws, which require us to make reports to the Department of Social Services about disclosed cases of child abuse, and the abuse of a disabled adult or elderly person.  Clients of any age should be aware that we are also required to make reports if they disclose the intent to harm themselves or someone else.

Your information is confidential.

I'm not sure I want to file a report. Can I talk to someone to better understand my options?

Yes. You can speak confidentially to a crisis responder through the Crisis Hotline at (540) 371-1666, or to a Legal Advocate who can walk you through your options to report - as well as the option not to report - and answer questions you may have.

You have options.

Does RCASA serve men/nonbinary/trans people?

Yes. Our services are open to anyone who has experienced or been affected by sexual violence. Our commitment to all survivors, including those in the LGBTQ communities, include the following:

  • We will not assume your gender identity.

  • We will use the pronouns you prefer.

  • We will not assume your sexual orientation.

  • We will give you space to talk to us without fear of judgment, shame, or repercussions.

  • We will listen.

Our services are open to anyone affected by sexual violence.

Someone I love has been impacted by sexual violence. What should I do?

When someone you care about is in pain, it’s hard to know what to do, especially when sexual violence is involved. Below is a list of some things you can do to help a survivor:

  • Be Patient: Everyone responds differently to trauma, and survivors of sexual violence are no exception. Some will want to discuss their experience right away, while others will need time before they can talk about it. Try to resist the urge to ask questions or give advice; instead, simply let the person you care about know that you will be ready whenever they are. 


  • Believe Them: All too often, survivors of sexual violence worry that they won’t be believed or that they will be judged. If someone decides to talk to you about something as personal as sexual assault, it means they trust you. Do your best to avoid asking questions that invalidate or minimize the impact of their experience. Tell the survivor directly, “I believe you.” This will be a huge catalyst in the healing process.


  • Respect Their Choices: Assault takes away a person’s feelings of power and control. Making decisions is a difficult but important step towards regaining control. You can inform them of their options, but a survivor makes the final decision. When you respect a survivor’s choices, you help them regain their sense of autonomy and control. Empower the people you care about by supporting their decisions, even if you don’t agree with them.

  • Get Informed: There is no “right” or “normal” way for a person to respond to the trauma of sexual violence. The more you educate yourself about common reactions to assault, the more prepared you will be to understand and support your loved one. RCASA offers support sessions that address this topic specifically, and they are available to you regardless of whether the survivor is receiving services from RCASA.

Be Patient.



Get Informed.

What if nobody believes me?

We believe you.

The staff at RCASA will believe you.

We specialize in dealing with sexual violence and we will not judge you. We will provide an open and supportive atmosphere for you to begin healing.

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