Need to Know Info: In the aftermath of sexual assault, you have choices.

By Lisa Ingarfield

In 2008, 2013, and again in 2015, the state of Colorado passed laws to enact provisions under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) making it easier for sexual assault survivors to seek medical attention and have evidence collected should they wish to do so. Sadly, few survivors know about these Colorado laws and the choices they afford victims of sexual assault. Denver broads, make sure you are in the know.

Here are a few facts—important info to know and understand for yourself, and for others in your life.

  • There are three “reporting options” for survivors in Colorado, including one that enables survivors to remain anonymous to police and still receive forensic medical care at no cost.

  • A survivor requesting a medical forensic exam, aka a “rape kit” after a sexual assault cannot be denied the exam, and cannot be charged for the service.

  • Survivors of sexual assault can receive medical care and have evidence collected without working with the police. Law enforcement cannot mandate cooperation from a survivor in order for them to receive medical care.

  • Depending on the reporting option a survivor chooses, it is possible to have evidence tested without making a formal report to the police. This can sometimes help a survivor decide if they want to file a police report at a later time.

One in 6 women, 1 in 33 men, and 1 in 5 trans individuals will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. In many cases, survivors never come forward to report their experience. Should a friend or family member disclose to you, there are three things you can do to help them feel supported:

  1. Believe them and tell them that you do. The simple act of believing is one of the most powerful things we can all do to combat sexual assault.

  2. Empower them to make their own choices about reporting and medical care; don’t force them to do anything.

  3. Connect them to resources. Find a local sexual violence crisis center online and give them a call. Most local resource centers provide confidential assistance and advocacy. The Blue Bench (303-322-7273) in Denver can talk to survivors over the phone, provide counseling, and accompany them to the hospital or police department if survivors so wish.  

To read more detailed descriptions of each of Colorado’s three reporting options, visit the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s reporting options website.

For a list of hospitals who have trained sexual assault nurse/forensic examiner programs visit: http://www.ccasa.org/medical-care/

Share this article with the people you love and care about in your life. When we are all in the know, we can better support each other.