Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact. If you've had something happen, you may not know what to call it. Was it a sexual assault? Rape? You don’t have to know what to call it in order to get help sorting through some common concerns.
If the assault happened in the past 72-96 hours, there are some time-sensitive considerations such as the decision to have medical evidence collected and or address other health concerns. If the assault happened longer than 72 hours ago, the option to report to the police, gather evidence and have an investigation still exists.
However, reporting is not the only issue. You may be experiencing a range of impact and have concerns about housing, academics, relationships, safety, and more. The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) is a free and confidential resource to help with these concerns.
Explore your options
Especially in the first 72-96 hours, medical concerns like pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and or injuries may be important to address. Even after 72 hours have passed, treatment is available and may put your mind at ease. There is a difference between getting treatment from a medical professional and having medical evidence collected for possible investigation.
If you need immediate emergency treatment, Boulder Community Health is the closest hospital to CU.
If you have injuries related to an assault, and want treatment but no evidence collection, you can go to the doctor. Keep in mind that if you are under the age of 18 or have physical injuries, doctors may be required to report the assault to police. You can ask about reporting requirements before receiving treatment, and OVA or Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) can help you with this.
If you do not want or feel you need an emergency room visit, but are worried about sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy, emergency contraception and/or STI treatment is available at several health care providers including Wardenburg Sexual and Reproductive Health located on campus, Planned Parenthood, and Boulder Valley Women's Health Clinic. Despite the name, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Clinic does serve people of all genders and has a sliding fee scale.
Medical evidence collection
You can learn more about evidence collection by contacting CU OVA or Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA). Advocates are often available to meet you at the hospital to offer support and information. You can have a medical forensic exam done even if you do not know whether or not you want to report this to the police. If you think there is a possibility that you will decide to report this to the police at a later date, it is best to get the exam done as early as possible.
Evidence collection is done at Boulder Community Health by trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). Even though it’s common to want to bathe after a sexual assault, please consider not to if you want to have evidence collected, as some evidence might be lost. If you have bathed, it’s still possible to collect evidence.
Once the exam is completed the police will be called to collect the evidence. It is your choice if you would like to speak with the police. There are three options for reporting and how the evidence collected is stored
- anonymously in which the survivor's name is not included in the evidence that the police collect, the evidence will only be stored, it cannot be tested for anonymous report
- medical reporting, the survivor's name is included as part of the evidence and the evidence can be tested, but at the time the survivor does not want to work with law enforcement
- law enforcement reporting, survivor is participating in a criminal justice process and evidence is tested . This is the survivors choice.
- Please note this does not apply to minors. Click here for more information from the State of Colorado.
The medical forensic exam itself will be paid for, either by the police department based on the jurisdiction the crime occured, or by the Colorado Department of Criminal Justice, this depends on if the survivor is participating in a law enforcement report. Anything not included in the exam itself (Plan B if applicable, antibiotics, ER fees, other, etc.), will not be covered. There are some options to help to cover costs not paid by or covered by insurance, including hospital payment assistance and/or Victim's Compensation. OVA can help you learn about these options. Click here for more information.
Transportation: If you would like to get a medical forensic exam without consultation you can call 911 directly and tell the dispatcher that you want to report a sexual assault and would like to preserve evidence. The police can transport you to see a SANE nurse and a MESA advocate may be called to meet you at the hospital to provide information on resources and support. If during business hours OVA may be available to meet survivors at the hospital. If you do not want to contact the police you can go directly to Boulder Community Hospital and ask to see a SANE nurse. If you do not have transportation to the hospital students can go to Wardenburg and ask for a travel voucher. You can also take the Stampede or the Jump bus, using your CU RTD bus pass. Other transportation options to get to the hospital are taxi cab (303-777-7777) and/or a ride with a friend/support person.
Sometimes there is a wait at the hospital; please consider bringing a change of clothes, a friend, or whatever you need to be comfortable.
Sexual assault can be reported at anytime. In Colorado as of May 2016, the case may be prosecuted up to 20 years after the incident. If the incident happened when you were under the age of 15, in Colorado, there is no statutory limits on when it can be reported.
Reporting to the police is not the same as pressing charges. At the CU police department, you may be able to meet a detective or patrol officer and make a report without immediately triggering a full scale investigation. You can learn more about the process, meet the people involved, and make an informed decision. Other jurisdictions may not offer this option.
If the assault just happened and you want to report, call police. The officer’s first priority will be your physical and emotional health. They may recommend that you seek medical attention and possibly recieve a medical forensic exam by a SANE for evidence collection. You have choice on what you want to do.
Some victims/survivors want to file an “informational” report with the intention of making the police aware of their situation, other people want to file a report that will lead to an investigation and possibly criminal charges. Please note: If you currently are in or have had a previous "dating" or "intimate" relationship with the person who hurt you the police may classify the incident as domestic violence and may need to make an arrest due to the Colorado mandatory arrest law in cases of domestic violence/intimate partner abuse.
Boulder District Attorney Sex Assault Division
If you report to the police, the police may investigate the case and then present the case the the District Attorney's (DA's) office, who decide if the case will be filed/charged. The DA's Office has a division devoted to the prosecution of sex crimes. The division is staffed by experienced Deputy District Attorneys, who have specialized knowledge and training in the prosecution of sex offenses and a DA Victim Advocate assigned solely to work with sex assault survivors. The Division’s goal is to appropriately hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes, while at the same time focusing on the needs of sex assault survivors and helping them through the criminal justice system.
Reporting to CU's Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance
If you were sexually assaulted by a CU student, faculty, or staff you can report to the Office of Institutional Equity and Complaince (OIEC). OIEC can address concerns through a formal investigation OR a policy compliance meeting (which does not include an investigation but focuses on education and intervention to stop the behavior). In cases of a finding of a policy violation OIEC will put sanctions in place through the university. OIEC’s process is separate from the criminal justice system and is administrative through the university. In some cases OIEC may need to make a limited report to the police if there are certain safety concerns. In addition to conducting investigations, OIEC can also provide safety and supportive measures including no contact orders, academic remedial measures, and more. Click here to learn more about OIEC's process and procedures. To file a report you can contact OIEC directly at 303-492-2127, complete an online report, or work with the Office of Victim Assistance to provide advocacy in the reporting process. If you are unsure about reporting, please contact OVA and we can talk through the OIEC process with you confidentially to assist you in your decision making process.
Confidential Reporting to the Office of Victim Assistance
Click here to make a confidential report to the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA). This report will only be seen by a confidential advocate counselor at OVA. This report does not notify the university and no investigative action will be taken. If you would like an OVA confidential advocate counselor to contact you please include your contact information and an OVA confidential advocate counselor will outreach to you directly. OVA is here to be a resource to you.
If you are dealing with an unwanted sexual experience, it may be useful to talk with someone who is knowledgeable about the issue. Click here for a range of impacts. Practicing self care, taking care of basic needs (eating, sleeping, staying hydrated, exercise) and reaching out for support can make a difference. Informal support such as friends, family, and colleagues can be a great resource. In addition,OVA is free and confidential and here to be a resource for counseling support, advocacy, informing one of their rights and options, and providing information, referrals, and consultation on additional campus and community resources. Some things you might discuss when meeting with an OVA advocate counselor include:
- figuring out what you feel and think about what’s going on.
- getting information that will help you assess the situation, and figure out what you want.
- discussing your rights and reporting options.
- talking about how to manage academics, or work given the situation.
- talking about making a safety plan if applicable.
- getting medical treatment if you have injuries or are worried about your health.
- changing where you live to get some space or safety.
- discussing self-care and coping skills.
*If seeking support from a CU community member in a supervisory role, ask if they are a Responsible Employee and if they have any limits to keeping the information you are sharing with them private. If you wish to not have the information shared with the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance consider reaching out to a confidential resource such as OVA.
If you are not ready to talk to somebody but want to get more information about your situation, the web is a great place to do that. If you are concerned about privacy, you should know that most computers keep track of websites you visit. If you are concerned about this please review how to clear your web browser's history or use a public computer such as at a lab on campus, a public library or at a friend’s house.
If you feel that your current housing situation is no longer safe or comfortable, OVA can discuss options for a change of housing. There may also be the option to move the alleged perpetrator if they live in CU housing with assistance from OIEC and or OVA.
If you are worried about how this situation may be impacting your schoolwork, OVA is here to help. You deserve to be in school and to meet your goals. The OVA can discuss options for managing academic issues while maintaining privacy. There are concrete things the University can do to help with your situation.
A protection order is a legal document obtained through the courts that puts restrictions on individuals who may be dangerous to you. If they violate these restrictions they can be sanctioned by the court. If you have questions about obtaining a protection order you can talk to a confidential OVA advocate counselor, call the Boulder Protective Order Clinic at 303-441-4867, contact Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, or go to the Colorado Judicial Branch Protection Order website.