Two years ago, a former Texas A&M student survived being sexually assaulted. "Nicole," as we will refer to her, was assaulted by someone she had recently met.
Statistics show that 8 out of 10 sexual assault survivors know their attacker. "Nicole" knew hers for one night after going on a group date. The next night, she was attacked. Looking back, she says she could not see anything like that happening to her.
"When we'd hung out the night before, he wanted to keep hanging out," she said. "He didn't want to leave and it was late, but I did not think anything weird of it."
Laury Kasowski, executive director of the Brazos Valley Rape Crisis Center, says that is how attackers get close to their chosen victims. Kasowski says sexual predators prey on the trusting nature of people and are able to get close.
Following the assault, "Nicole" admits she really didn't not know what to do. When she and her roommate called police that is when they received essential instructions.
A police dispatcher immediately informed her not to wash or shower. "Nicole" was instructed to get to the hospital. That is where she had a sexual assault kit done and made a statement with police. It was also the same time that she learned about and enrolled into the pseudonym program.
Laury Kasowski says the pseudonym program is a way for survivors of sexual assault to keep their identity secret. Whether victims decide to file a complaint with police or not their names will not be revealed. All paperwork following the initial statement made to police will refer to survivors as "Jane Doe" or any name they elect to go by.
Kasowski says the program is used to help victims to know that they have still have control.
"By coming out and pressing charges and making a report they're not necessarily going to have to tell the whole world", she says. "They can choose who they decide to tell their story."
Victims can remain anonymous even if they decide to go through every step to see that their attacker is prosecuted. But if they choose not to report the assault they still can receive help.
Kasowski says, "All it takes is a simple phone call to our agency and we'll get them all the services and referrals that may be needed to help someone on their road to recovery."
That phone call is placed to the 24-hour hotline at the Brazos Valley Rape Crisis Center. The number is 731-1000. Within 40 to 45 minutes of placing the phone call a center advocate or volunteer will be dispatched to the aid of the person in need.
Though she is different in some ways, "Nicole" says she was able to take her life back. "Nicole" says her support team of her husband, parents, friends, the police department, and the Rape Crisis Center got her to a great point in her life.
Her attacker was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He must serve a minimum of nine years before he is eligible for parole.
"Nicole" encourages all victims to who have survived sexual assault to find help where they can even if some time has passed. And she wants them to know that she once thought her life would never get better.
She says, "I'll never be the same as I was before, but I think I'm a lot stronger now and my life right now is better then it ever has been." "Nicole" offers advise to other survivors: seeking help can get them back to living life again.
Some other important information victims of sexual assault comes from the representative of the College Station Police Department's Victim Services. Immediately following the assault, they need to do the following:
1. Get to a safe place.
2. Try to resist the desire to bathe or shower.
3. Seek medical attention.
4. Inform medical personnel that you are a survivor of a sexual assault. (At which point the hospital will contact police)
5. Have a sexual assault kit performed.
6. Make an initial statement to police.
7. Make a decision whether you will or won't enroll in the pseudonym program.
Also, if the victim did wash, they have up to 96 hours to still have a sexual assault kit performed. After that five day window, the odds become even slimmer that examiners will be able to retrieve any DNA or evidence of forced sexual activity. Both of which are invaluable in the prosecution process.
These are some safety reminders provided by the Victims Services of the College Station Police Department to help reduce the risk of being sexually assaulted.
1. Make sure someone knows where you are going and what time you should be home.
2. Never leave your drink unattended.
3. Appoint a nominated drink watcher (your non-drinking driver preferably).
4. If you order a mixed drink, watch the person who mixes it.
5. Never accept a drink from anyone you do not completely trust.
6. Do not share or exchange drinks.
7. Never drink anything out of a common punch bowl.
8. If someone offers to buy you a drink, go up to the bar with him or her to accept the drink.
9. Drugs can be put in soft drinks, tea, coffee, Gatorade, etc. as well as alcohol.
10. Consider very carefully whether you should leave the club or party with someone you have just met. You must be sure you have absolute trust in the person you are asking for help, no matter how long you have known them.
11. This can happen to men and women.
12. Subscribe to the "buddy system" - always party with one or more friends, and keep an eye on each other. If someone begins to appear "too drunk," get them to a safe place. More than one attempted rape has happened in the presence of watchful friends.
Just Be Aware