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Immediate Response

Getting help

If you have been sexually assaulted:

  • Get to a safe place
  • To preserve evidence, do not shower, bathe, douche, eat or drink, wash your hands, go to the bathroom or brush your teeth. 
  • If you have already done any of these things, evidence may still be present for collection.Do not change or destroy your clothing. 
  • Do not clean or disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

For free, immediate care after a sexual assault go to:

Prairie Lakes Healthcare System
401 9th Ave NW
Watertown, SD 57201

Tell them you are there for a sexual assault exam
-OR-
Go to a safe place and call the Beacon Center: 1-800-660-8014
Our free services are available at any time

Common questions

Why go to the hospital?

  • Even if you don’t have obvious physical injuries, it’s important to make sure you’re OK and to discuss any risks of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections from the sexual assault.
  • If you think you may have been given a “rape drug,” you can have a urine sample taken to test for it.
  • Having a medical exam also allows you to preserve physical evidence of the sexual assault (see below).

What will happen at the hospital?

  • Once you arrive at the Emergency Department and tell them you’re there for a sexual assault exam, you’ll be given a private room.
  • You will be treated as an out-patient, which means you won’t be billed for treatment related to the sexual assault and your insurance (or your parents’ insurance) won’t be notified. In the rare case where a SANE nurse cannot treat your physical injuries, you will be registered as an in-patient, generating a hospital bill. An advocate can discuss how to apply for compensation for this portion of your bill.
  • A specially-trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will be called in to see you and talk over your options for care and evidence collection.
  • A victim advocate from  Beacon Center will be available at the hospital to support you and, if you wish, to speak with family and friends. You can talk with theadvocate at any time during or after your care.
  • A police detective will talk with you if you decide to report the crime.

Why collect evidence? I can’t deal with pressing charges right now.

  • That’s OK, you won’t have to. Having evidence collected just keeps your options open. SART can store the evidence anonymously until you’re ready to choose what to do.
  • Evidence needs to be collected within 84 hours (3 1/2 days) of the assault. Many people decide days or weeks after their assault, once they make it through the initial trauma, that pressing charges is important to them. Having evidence available strengthens their ability to bring their attacker to justice, if that’s what they decide to do.

Can I choose whether or not to involve the police?

  • If you are 18 or older, reporting to law enforcement is entirely your decision. An advocate will be available to discuss this option with you. If you are under 18 or in cases where physical, mental or age-related disability requires a mandatory report, law enforcement will be contacted. 

Are there reasons to consider making a police report?

  • Yes, although you’ll want to make the decision that’s best for you.  If you like, a victim advocate can help you talk through pros and cons.  Here are a few positive results to consider:
  • Regaining your sense of control.  Making a police report is one way of taking control after your assault.  Sometimes just knowing that law enforcement has heard you and taken the crime seriously can help you in your recovery, whatever the outcome of the investigation.
  • Protecting others.  You need to make doing what’s best for you your first priority.  But statistics show most rapists are repeat offenders. Your report may help the police arrest and prosecute a perpetrator before they hurt somebody else.

I’m worried I’ll get in trouble. (I was doing drugs, I don’t have immigration papers, etc.)

  • If you are crime victim, the police will not use your immigration status or drug use against you.  Their concern is getting a violent criminal — your attacker — off the streets.

I’m scared my attacker will come after me again.

  • There are ways for you to stay safe, and a victim advocate can discuss these with you.