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Sexual Assault

Definition
Any undesired physical contact of a sexual nature perpetrated against another person. It includes: (According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), inappropriate touching, vaginal, anal or oral penetration, sexual intercourse that one says “no” to, rape, attempted rape and child molestation. In Michigan, the legal term used for sexual assault or rape is "Criminal Sexual conduct" or CSC. There are four degrees of CSC. The charge depends on a number of different circumstances, including the victim's age, mental capacity, use of weapons or family relation. Please see the Michigan Laws governing CSC for more specific details.

Stats: National Prevalence Data

Strangers are responsible for only one in five rapes. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. (1996). National Crime Victimization Survey.) Approximately 43% of victims are raped by a friend or acquaintance; 34% by a stranger; 17% by an intimate; and 2% by another relative. (National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice. 2000.)

Resources
Local:
LACASA (Livingston County)
Safe House Center 24 Hour Line (Washtenaw County)
U of M Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center
517-548-1350
734-995-5444
734-936-3333
State:
Michigan Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault 517-347-7000
National:
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Sexual Assault Recovery Anonymous Society
800-656-HOPE
604-584-2626

Laws Governing
Michigan Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) Laws 750.520a-750.520l
Mandatory Reporting: MCL 750.411

What to do if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted (or suspected) in the past 72 hours

Sexual Assault is a very traumatic experience and it is a crime. Even though you may not be sure whether you are going to prosecute at this time, collecting evidence is critical and is time sensitive. If you are not sure whether you were sexually assaulted or not, we still encourage you to come to the Hospital's Emergency Room for examination. The following points are critical:

  • Do not eat or drink
  • Do not change you clothes
  • If you did change your clothes, do not wash them, place in a brown paper bag and bring items with you to the ER.
  • Do not shower or bathe.
  • Do not use toilet tissue when urinating; use the underwear that you have on.
  • Try not to urinate in the event that you were given a drug prior to the assault, or bring the urine with you in a clean container.

How to Report

  • Report the sexual assault to the police agency in the county where the assault has occurred.
  • Report the sexual assault in the county where you live.
  • Call 911 and report the sexual assault.
  • Go to an Emergency Department at any Hospital.

What to Report

  • Your legal name
  • The name of the person who has sexually assaulted you
  • A specific address where the assault took place
  • Date and time the assault took place

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital's (SJMH) Response to the issue

  • SJMH developed the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program in 2002 and offers patients, who have been assaulted in the past 72 hours, a medical-forensic examination by a specially trained forensic nurse. Females who have started menstruating and males, 13 years and older should come directly to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Department since evidence collection is critical. Additionally, the patient benefits from a formal Assault Nurse Examination and links with law enforcement to prosecute the perpetrator. Crisis counseling and legal advocacy are also immediately available.
  • If a victim has been assaulted equal to or less than 72 hours, a determination of the following must occur. If the victim is premenstrual or a male patient 12 years and younger, then she/he should be directed to go to the Emergency Department at the University of Michigan. There, he/she will receive a medical-forensic examination. If the victim has had onset of menses or is a male patient, 13 years and older, he/she can be directed to go either to the Emergency Department at SJMH or UMMC. There, he/she will receive a medical-forensic examination.

What to do if your assault took place greater than 72 hours

  • For health care concerns, follow up with your primary care doctor or a local clinic for STD testing, medical treatment or other needs.
  • For legal support, report to law enforcement as indicated above.
  • For counseling, contact Safe House Center, LACASA, UM Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Center, or your local mental health provider.
  • Patients who are 18 years and younger, who have been assaulted, greater than 72 hours should result in a phone call to the University of Michigan’s Child Protection Team (CPT 734-763-0215) or the Social Worker on-call (734-936-4000). If you are uncertain of the time frame you would follow this same procedure.

Myths and Facts

Myth: Men rape women because that is men’s nature and biological role.
Fact: There are many societies in which men never rape women. We now know that rape is not universal. Men rape women in some societies and under particular conditions but not in all societies. That the rate of rape is high in some societies and low or nonexistent in others suggests that it is behavior that can be encouraged or discouraged, depending on the values of the society and, in particular, the values connected to masculinity and femininity and the power relations between men and women.

Myth: Only certain types of women get raped.
Fact: Any woman can be raped. Women from the very young to the very elderly, women of all ethnicities, of all socioeconomic levels, and of all sexual orientations are raped. Women are not raped because they “put themselves in a dangerous situation,” as is so frequently stated, or because they wore certain clothes, or because they followed a particular lifestyle. These aspects are highlighted only to further blame the victim and excuse the violent behavior of the aggressor.

Myth: Women provoke rape by the way they dress or the way they flirt.
Fact: Men rape women because they can get away with it. Women’s dress and behavior are not the cause. There is no correlation between who is raped and the clothes they are wearing or their flirtatious behavior at the time. Rape is an expression of power and control. A man might justify his raping by pointing to the woman’s behavior, but that is an excuse rather than a reason. It is a cruel irony that women are socially encouraged to be sexually attractive and seductive and then, if they are raped, are blamed for the other person’s violent act.

Myth: Men can never be raped.
Fact: Men can be and are sexually assaulted. According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics from 1997, an estimated 9 percent of rape survivors are male. Their attackers are almost always other males. Sometimes the man who rapes another man is heterosexual and homophobic, and the rape is an expression of the contempt he feels for the other person, whom he views as not being sufficiently masculine in appearance and behavior. In other cases, the assailant is indiscriminate in his choice of a male or female victim. The survivor in such sexual assaults is not necessarily, nor usually, gay. It is important that male rape has been acknowledged. As more men are willing to talk about being raped and offer help to other male survivors, the trauma of the aftermath of rape for males will be eased.

Myth: Most rapists are strangers to their victims.
Fact: Most rapes are committed by someone that the victim knows: a neighbor, friend, family member, acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, spouse, partner, or ex-partner.

Additional websites for related information
International Association of Forensic Nurses
Rape Abuse and Incest National Network
Rape Crisis Online Encyclopedia

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