Reporting Options for Survivors of Sexual Assault
Since 2015, victims/survivors of sexual assault in Colorado have three primary options for reporting. In all cases, victims/survivors determine whether to have a medical forensic exam (sexual assault specific medical care and evidence collection) but they are not financially responsible for the cost of the evidence collection portion of the exam. During the exam, victims/survivors determine what, if any, evidence will be collected. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors have no legal authority to request, authorize, or deny these exams.
Do I have to report?
Victims/survivors do have options relating to whether and how they report their experience. In Colorado, by law, victims/survivors receiving medical care can choose which type of report occurs. In some cases, where the victim/survivor is a minor or an at-risk elder, medical professionals may be required to report the abuse. Adult survivors, between the ages of 18 and 69, can choose whether they wish to report to law enforcement and also have a medical forensic exam completed.
There are three different types of reporting options to victims:
Law Enforcement Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam and chooses to work with law enforcement.
Medical Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam, but at that time chooses to not participate with law
enforcement. Evidence and information to law enforcement is released with victim identifying information. Victim can choose whether or not the evidence is tested. If they choose not to have the evidence tested, law enforcement must store the evidence for at least two years.
Anonymous Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam, but at that time chooses to not participate with law enforcement. Evidence and information to law enforcement is released without victim identifying information.
How do I pay for medical care?
The type of report and whether evidence is collected determines what payment programs are available to assist victims with medical bills. Victims are never responsible for payment of evidence collection; however, there may be other medical expenses.
Evidence collected (“Rape Kit Exam”)
No Evidence Collected (Medical Care Only)
Where do I go for sexual assault medical care?
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs have medical professionals trained in sexual assault response and care. These programs provide medical care and evidence collection, if desired, for sexual assault victims (evidence collection is not required to obtain sexual assault specific medical care).
Most health care facilities (e.g., primary care, public health clinics, Planned Parenthood, urgent care clinics, hospitals) should be able to provide sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, as well as pregnancy prevention and treatment. If these medical facilities will not provide those services, contact an advocate or your nearest SANE program for assistance. For more information on where SANE programs exist, please download this SANE Nurse Locations document (pdf, 296 KB).
Do I have to deal with this alone?
No victim/survivor of sexual assault has to deal with their experience alone. Victim advocates can assist and support sexual assault victims following an assault with a variety of services including but not limited to: medical issues, legal concerns, counseling, and other long-term healing processes. Services are often no cost or low cost to the victim.
There are a two advocate types:
1. Confidential Community Based Advocates (those who work or volunteer with local rape crisis organizations or similar) can protect victim privacy and cannot contact law enforcement without the victim’s permission. To find a confidential rape crisis advocate, contact the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
2. Law enforcement advocates typically work within law enforcement agencies and provide assistance after a report to law enforcement. To speak with a law enforcement advocate, contact your local law enforcement agency and ask to speak to an advocate. Law enforcement advocates and other system based advocates (such as folks working in a DA's office do not have confidentiality).