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Your Rights as a Survivor of Sexual Assault

As a survivor of a sexual assault, you have several rights, which you should be aware of. There are also numerous resources available, some of which you can access from this page. 

You have every right to ask questions of the police, nurses and attorneys.
If you are uncomfortable or uncertain about something, please do not hesitate to ask questions about your case.

You have the right to be treated with respect.

You have the right to have a victim advocate present for any contacts related to this case.
This includes but is not limited to: detective interviews, DA interviews, defense attorney interviews, medical follow-ups and at all court proceedings. (Penal code 679.04)

You have the right to be kept informed on the status of your case.
For updates on the case, you may contact the detective or your advocate who can act as a liaison for you.

You have the right to CONFIDENTIALITY with your victim advocate.
Anything that is said between you and your victim advocate is held in the strictest confidence. Your advocate from the Rape Crisis Center DOES NOT work for the police department or the district attorney's office, and will not disclose any information you discuss in private without your written consent.

You have the right to change or add to your initial statement as you start to recall details more clearly.
If you begin to remember more details of the attack, please contact the detective to add to your statement.

You have the right to decline an interview or to reschedule for a time when you will be better able to participate.
Interviews can be extremely exhausting. If you feel that you cannot physically or emotionally handle an interview at the scheduled time, please express this concern to your advocate, who will act in your best interest to have the interview rescheduled.

You have the right to decline an interview with defense attorneys and their investigators.
If you decide to speak with the defense attorney, please make sure that you have a witness, such as your advocate, or the prosecuting attorney.

You have the right to decline a phone interview.
Phone interviews can be precarious because you are unable to confirm the identity of the person on the other end of the line. To protect yourself and the case, you can request that all interviews be conducted in person, and you may also have your advocate present.

You have the right to do nothing.

You have the right to compensation through the victim's of crime fund, if you qualify and if the case is filed.
Your victim advocate can give you the contact numbers and information about how to apply for compensation for counseling, medical expenses, and loss of wages associated with the assault.

You have the right to have your victim advocate accompany you to the witness stand during the preliminary hearing. (Penal Code 868.5).
Sitting on the witness stand during court procedures can be intimidating and scary, but you don't have to do it alone. Your advocate can sit right next to you to offer support.

You have the right to remain anonymous during criminal proceedings.
The district attorney will discuss the pros and cons of this option if the case is filed.

You have the right to request to not have your face or name used in the media.
If the media is involved and you wish to make a statement, you can either remain anonymous, or have a representative from the rape crisis center speak to the media on your behalf.

You have the right to revoke your testimony at any time.
(Except in cases involving domestic violence. The DA may file charges without the consent of the victim, even when testimony is revoked.)


RESOURCES

Domestic Violence Has No Place Here has 24-hour phone numbers to connect you to staff and volunteers who can provide confidential and non-judgmental emotional support, advocacy, information, and referrals for victims in Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office - Bureau of Victim Services  has available a downloadable pamphlet that explains the importance of reporting sexual assaults and lists resources for victims. 

National Sexual Violence Resource Center 
is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research. The Center has resources on What You Can Do and how to Find Help



Published: July 27, 2021