What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault includes sexual activities that happen without your consent. Consent is when both people say yes, freely and willingly. Consent requires ongoing communication and respect of both partners’ boundaries.
Sexual assault does not only include physical force. As a minor, it’s important to be aware that the law determines what age you are able to give consent, legally. If you are under age 18 in Florida, the law recognizes sexual activities as assault.
How do I get help?
As a victim of sexual assault, you may experience guilt, shame or fear. But being a victim of sexual assault is not your fault; it is not a result of your actions, clothing or the way you look. No one has the right to hurt you or touch you without your consent.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you have the right to access services to help you through this time. At the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, you are provided with support and resources after the sexual assault happened. You have the right to seek medical help. You also have the right to get a sexual assault forensic exam done, at no cost.
For information and resources about dating violence and ways to get help, visit Loveisrespect.org.
What if I’m a minor?
If you are under 18, you are not required to have a law enforcement investigation in order to receive a sexual assault forensic exam. The sexual assault forensic exam must occur within 120 hours after the assault. Legal consent from a parent/legal guardian is required for the forensic medical exam. If the parent/legal guardian is the person that was involved in the assault, or if the Crisis Center is not able to get in contact with a parent/legal guardian, they will assist with identifying a trusted adult or professional that can provide legal consent for the exam.
Even if a parent/legal guardian consents to all services, it is still your right to decide which services you are comfortable with. You will not be forced to do anything you are not comfortable with. If you decide not to have the sexual assault forensic exam done, you are still able to receive other services, such as advocacy services.
What happens if I report the sexual assault?
If you decide to report to law enforcement, you have the right to have an advocate by your side for support. After you contact law enforcement, an officer will want to meet with you in person. A law enforcement officer will take your statement of the events that led to the assault, and will ask details of the assault. The report will be made and the case will be assigned to a detective who will investigate and gather more evidence for the case.