Sexual Assault Services

Sexual assault services are available to all victims/survivors of past and current sexual assault/rape. We assist male, female and LGBTQ individuals. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or age in the delivery of services.

If you need assistance, call our 24/7 helpline at 941-637-0404.

Rape/Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Violence?

  • Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual contact.
  • It includes crimes such as rape, incest, sexual assault, harassment, and any sexual contact without consent.
  • Sexual violence is a crime of power and control where sex is used as the weapon.

What to do if you are raped

  • Go to a safe place.
  • Preserve all physical evidence of the assault. Do not shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, wash your hands, or brush your teeth until after you have had a medical examination. Do not clean or disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred.
  • Call C.A.R.E. We can help you with your options and accompany you to the emergency room, if you decide to do so.
  • Get medical care as soon as possible. Go to a hospital emergency department. Even if you think that you do not have any physical injuries, you should still have a medical examination and discuss with a health care provider the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections and the possibility of pregnancy resulting from the sexual assault. Having a forensic exam is also a way for you to preserve physical evidence of a sexual assault. NOTE: The forensic exam should be free. If you are charged, contact the billing department at the hospital or call C.A.R.E. to assist you with this.
  • Tell the hospital if you suspect that you may have been given a “rape drug.”
  • If you want to report the crime, notify law enforcement. The hospital can help with this. Reporting the crime may help you regain a sense of personal power and control.
  • Call a friend, a family member, or someone else you trust who can be with you and give you support.
  • Call C.A.R.E. whenever you have questions or concerns. After a sexual assault, you have a lot of choices and decisions to make – e.g., about follow-up medical care, safety, and telling other people. You may have concerns about the impact of the assault and the reactions of friends and family members. Counseling can help you learn how to deal with these concerns.

After Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a trauma that threatens our sense of safety in the world. There are a range of responses that survivors have, and these can cause survivors to fear that they’re going crazy. There is nothing wrong with you; these are normal responses to abnormal situations.

If you were sexually assaulted years ago, you may question why your reactions are still strong, or may have been told you should be “over it” by now. There is no time limit on the trauma caused by sexual assault, however, and you can ask for help in healing and managing the effects on your life. Sharing with other survivors can help to “normalize” the effects and reduce the sense of isolation, as well as being a source of suggestions for coping and healing.

Effects of Sexual Violence

Everyone is different, and there is no typical response to rape. There is also no time limit by which a victim of sexual battery is supposed to recover.

Whatever you feel is normal!

Some common emotions are…

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Overwhelmed
  • Depression
  • Intense emotions
  • Mistrust in People
  • Fears about safety
  • Anxiety
  • Disbelief
  • Numbness

Male Rape

Despite myths that deny the problem of sexual assault against men and boys, one out of six boys will be sexually assaulted by the time he is 18.

Male survivors of child sexual abuse or adult rape may have specific responses such as:

  • Shame as a result of society’s wrong expectations that boys and men “should” be able to protect themselves.
  • Isolation because of myths that sexual assault doesn’t happen to men or boys.
  • Fear of ridicule and disbelief
  • Fear that people will think they are homosexual and somehow invited the assault if the perpetrator was male

Statistics of Rape/Sexual Assault according to RAINN

  • In the U.S., 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are victims of rape.
  • Every 107 seconds, another person in America is sexually assaulted, adding up to roughly 293,000 sexual assaults each year.
  • Victims can be children, teenagers, elderly, married or single.
  • 44% of victims are under the age of 18, 80% are under the age of 30.
  • Girls and women between the ages of 15 and 25 are at the greatest risk.
  • Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes. 68% of sexual assaults are not reported.
  • Approximately 4 out of 5 assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
  • 47% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.

Fear for Safety

If you fear for your safety or fear offender contact, you can seek a sexual violence injunction (Florida Statute §784.046), sometimes referred to as a restraining order or protection order.

  • Parents or legal guardian can file on behalf of victims under 18.
  • To obtain the injunction you or your guardian must report the crime to law enforcement and cooperate in any criminal proceeding against the offender.
  • You may also seek an injunction against an offender who has been released from jail or prison or who will be released within 90 days.
  • Filing for a sexual violence injunction is free.
  • The application can be made at a local courthouse with assistance from the court clerk.

Remember, Rape is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Healing takes time and C.A.R.E. is Here to Help:

C.A.R.E. operates the only Certified Rape Crisis Center in Charlotte County.

24-Hour Sexual Assault Helpline: C.A.R.E. provides around the clock support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Through our 24-Hour Sexual Assault Helpline, you will be in immediate contact with a Sexual Assault Advocate who can provide crisis intervention, service options, referrals, and information on sexual assault.  941-637-0404 or 941-475-6465.

Recent Sexual Assault

Services include immediate support, advocacy and accompaniment regardless of whether a victim reports the crime to law enforcement.

  • Accompaniment for forensic collection/rape kit
  • In-person crisis intervention
  • Referrals
  • Safety Planning

Past Sexual Assault

It is never too late to talk about it! C.A.R.E. offers services outside of the initial 120 hours for adults who were victims of past sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, or incest including:

  • Trauma-informed crisis counseling services
  • Individualized support
  • Assistance with the criminal justice system
  • Referrals
  • Advocacy
  • Victims’ compensation

All services are free and confidential. All information provided to the advocate is considered confidential per F.S. 90.5035.

The Legal definition of rape/sexual assault: In the state of Florida, the legal term for the crime of rape or sexual assault is sexual battery (Chapter 794, F.S.).

  • Sexual battery means oral, anal, or vaginal penetration by, or union with, the sexual organ of another or the anal or vaginal penetration of another by any other object committed without your consent.
  • Consent means intelligent, knowing and voluntary. Consent does not include coerced submission. The law says that consent does not mean your failure to offer physical resistance to the offender.
  • If you are under 16 years of age, consent cannot be used as a defense to a sexual crime. Further, a 16- or 17-year-old cannot legally consent to sexual activity with a person in a position of familial or custodial authority or to a person 24 or older.

Victim Rights

  • To have information about the criminal investigation of the crime that might identify you kept confidential and exempt from public records (Florida Statutes §119.071 and §92.56).
  • To have an advocate from a certified rape crisis center with you during the forensic examination.
  • To have an advocate with you during a discovery deposition (a defense attorney’s pre-trial questioning of witnesses).
  • To have the offender, if charged with the crime, tested for HIV and hepatitis and to receive the results of that testing.
  • To attend the sentencing or disposition of the offender and request that the offender be required to attend a different school if the offender goes to your school or your sibling’s school. To be told of judicial proceedings and scheduling changes.
  • To have information about release of the offender from incarceration from a county or municipal jail, juvenile detention facility, or residential commitment facility.
  • To tell the prosecutor what you want to happen in the case.
  • To request restitution.
  • To give an oral or written impact statement.
  • To not be asked or required to take a polygraph examination as a condition of going ahead with the investigation of the offense.
  • To take up to three days of leave, which can be paid or unpaid depending on the employer, to deal with issues that arise from the crime if the employer has 50 employees or more and you have worked for the employer for at least three months, you provide some documentation of the crime, and you have used other available leave (Florida Statute §741.313).

Medical Care and Evidence Collection

You do not have to decide immediately whether to report the rape to law enforcement. You can have the evidence collected and decide later on whether or not to report it to the authorities.

If you do want to report, law enforcement can provide or arrange for transportation to the appropriate medical facility. Once there, in a private area, the medical professional will conduct a head-to-toe exam checking for injuries and collecting evidence may include a pelvic exam and taking photos. As a victim, you have the right to:

  • Have an advocate from a certified rape crisis center with you
  • Say no to any part of the exam at any point.
  • Keep the exam confidential.

The medical professional will ask you some questions about the crime and your medical history. The medical professional also may:

  • Take blood, urine, saliva, pubic hair combings, and/or nail samples.
  • Place items of your clothing into the exam kit.

The medical professional can prescribe medications to protect you from certain sexually transmitted infections and recommend follow-up medical care.

  • HIV prevention medication may be available if that is of particular concern to you and should be started right away.
  • If you are concerned about pregnancy as a result of the crime, you should
    be provided with medically correct information about emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. Emergency contraception should be started within 120 hours of the crime and is available over the counter to women 18 and older at many pharmacies.

The exam is free, regardless of whether or not the victim is pursuing criminal charges against the offender, although the victim may be responsible for medications and additional healthcare costs.

Victim Compensation

As a victim of a sexual crime, you may be eligible for financial assistance for:

  • Medical care
  • Lost income
  • Mental health services
  • Relocation expenses (in certain situations)
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury.

C.A.R.E. can help you apply for assistance. Call us at 941-627-6000 or 941-475-6465.

C.A.R.E. Inc. is pleased to provide or facilitate accommodations, including American Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening devices, and alternative formats of printed materials, upon request from persons who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or are living with disabilities. Please request appropriate assistance from any of our staff.