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Sexual Violence2022-07-29T19:37:59-05:00

Sexual Violence

“One in three women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.”

Sexual violence is a public health epidemic in the United States and in Montgomery County, impacting our family members, neighbors and friends. The term “sexual violence” encompasses all abusive and coercive acts of violence in which sex/sexuality is used as a weapon to harm, humiliate, control, exploit, and/or intimidate. It impacts individuals of all ages and demographic boundaries. Sexual violence is a traumatic crime that affects survivors physically, mentally, emotionally, behaviorally, and spiritually. It also impacts families, communities, and systems.

Sexual assault in any form is often a devastating crime. Assailants can be strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family members. Assailants commit sexual assault by way of violence, threats, coercion, manipulation, pressure, or tricks. Whatever the circumstances, no one asks or deserves to be sexually assaulted.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault, a family member or a friend, free, confidential help is available by calling the Montgomery County Women’s Center Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (936) 441-7273.

If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted…

  • IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
  • Find a safe place.
  • Tell someone who will help and/or support you.
  • Seek medical care as soon as possible.

  • If you are an adult, remember it’s your choice whether or not to report it to the police.
  • Give yourself the time you need to heal.
  • Please know that you can seek help at any time.

Common Questions

Sexual assault is any forced, coerced, unwanted sexual contact.*

While there are specific legal definitions of rape and sexual assault in the Texas Penal Code, sexual violence is best understood as a broader continuum of unwanted non-mutual sexual activities that range from subtle to extremely violent. Sexual assault can include, but is not limited to, rape, sexual threats and intimidation, incest, sexual assault by intimate partners, child sexual abuse, human sexual trafficking, sexual harassment, street harassment and other forms of unwelcome, coerced, or non-consensual activity. The term sexual abuse is also often used to describe the wide range of activities that constitute sexual assault.

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. In its Uniform Crime Reporting System, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Texas legally defines rape as Intentionally or knowingly causing any of the following:

  • Penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means without that person’s consent;
  • Penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor without that person’s consent; or
  • The sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person including the actor.

The decision to report to law enforcement is entirely yours. Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives. Understanding how to report and learning more about the experience can take away some of the unknowns and help you feel more prepared.

You have several options for reporting sexual assault:

  • Call 911. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911. Help will come to you, wherever you are.
  • Contact the local police department. Call the direct line of your local police station or visit the station in person. If you are on a college campus you may also be able to contact campus-based law enforcement.
  • Visit a medical center. If you are being treated for injuries resulting from sexual assault, tell a medical professional that you wish to report the crime. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam. To find an appropriate local health facility that is prepared to care for survivors, call our 24- Hour Crisis Hotline (936) 441-7273.

If you have questions or concerns about reporting, you’re not alone. Below are some responses to common questions/concerns:

  • The perpetrator got scared away or stopped before finishing the assault. Attempted rape is a serious crime and can be reported. Reports of attempted rape and other assault are taken seriously.
  • I know the person who hurt me. About 2/3 of victims know the perpetrator. It can be unnerving to be violated by someone you know. Regardless of who the perpetrator is, sexual assault is against the law.
  • I’ve been intimate with the perpetrator in the past or am currently in a relationship with the perpetrator. Sexual assault can occur within a relationship. Giving someone consent in the past does not give them consent for any act in the future. If you did not consent, they acted against the law—and you can report it.
  • I have no physical injuries, and I’m worried there’s not enough proof. Most sexual assaults do not result in external physical injuries. It’s important to receive medical attention to check for internal injuries. You can also choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam to check for DNA evidence that may not be visible on the surface.
  • I’m worried law enforcement won’t believe me. There has been great investment in police training on this topic. While there are occasional exceptions, most law enforcement officers are understanding and on your side. If you do encounter someone who isn’t taking your case seriously, ask for their supervisor, and let your local sexual assault service provider know.
  • I don’t want to get in trouble. Sometimes minors are afraid of being disciplined, either by the law or by their parents, because they were doing something they shouldn’t have when the abuse occurred. For example, a teen might have been consuming alcohol, or a child might have been breaking a house rule. It’s important to remember that sexual assault is a crime—no matter the circumstances. Nothing you did caused this to happen.

Sexual Assault Exams Are Available Without Police Involvement

What?

  • A confidential non-report sexual assault examination is conducted by a medical professional.
  • A non-report sexual assault examination refers to the same examination provided to survivors who wish to report; however, there is no law requiring medical professionals to report adult sexual assault.

Who and When?

  • Any survivor of sexual assault who is at least 18 years of age, consents to an examination and who arrives at a medical facility within 120 hours.

Why?

  • Survivors often need time to prepare themselves before reporting since criminal investigations and reporting are often invasive and exhausting; however, forensic evidence collection is extremely important in sexual assault cases.
  • Evidence collection supports a survivor in the criminal justice system.

How?

  • The Texas Department of Public Safety will store any evidence collected from a non-report sexual assault examination for up to five years. (Please check this. I changed it from two to five because I believe this is now the case.)
  • The sexual assault examination has two parts: medical and forensic.
  • The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 56.065 requires the Texas Department of Public Safety to pay for the forensic portion of the medical examination and for the evidence collection kit; however, if a survivor arrives after the 120hour window and requests a forensic examination, they are financially responsible.
  • Survivors may also receive medical treatment that is unrelated to evidence collection (e.g. medication, stitches). Those costs that are purely medical will be billed to the survivor. However, survivors (whether or not they choose to make are report) are eligible for reimbursement for the medical portion of the exam through the state’s Crime Victims’ Compensation fund.

Learn More About Sexual Assault

All About
Sexual Assault

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Our advocates are available to assist you if you have experienced sexual violence and:

  • You want to have forensic evidence collected at the hospital, whether or not you file charges.
  • You want to file charges.
  • You want assistance navigating the criminal justice process.
  • You are required to testify in a criminal case and want someone to accompany you.
  • You need assistance in filing a Crime Victims’ Compensation application.
  • You need assistance in understanding your rights as a victim of crime.
MORE INFORMATION

CITATIONS

*Texas Association Against Sexual Assault: Confronting Sexual Assault [n.d.] See www.taasa.org

  1. “About Sexual Violence.” California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
  2. Buchwald, E. et al (1993). Transforming a Rape Culture, Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions

What Montgomery County Women’s Center

Means to Me

I used to think I was alone in the world and that nobody would understand that I was an outcast – that I’d be the one to stand out in a sea of people. Then I finally told someone my story. I found the women’s center – a place for my voice to be heard, a place where I found my voice, a place where people understand me more where the weight on my shoulders wasn’t so great – a safe place – the first place I genuinely laughed and smiled – a place to cry where no one judges. “Broken wings will heal and one day you will fly again.”

-- Stephanie
Teen Space Support Group Participant

The Montgomery County Women’s Center came into my life when I needed it the most, but I didn’t know that at the time. Being in an abusive relationship you think that YOU were doing something wrong or you can “fix” them. When I started to hear the patterns and then see the patterns, I knew I needed to change something. That change ended up being hard but they were with me through those hard times. I can honestly say that I’m in a better place now because of the work they did for me and with me.

-- Rob
High School Teacher

The Women’s Center plays a critical role in restoring the lives of individuals in our community. As an advocacy agency they continue to contribute to assisting without placing judgment or expectations upon those who are in need of their services. It is a true example of how lives can change when a combination of understanding and compassion meet.

-- Amber Dana
Community Partner/Advocate

If one year ago today you told me I’d be coming to a teen group & a part of the Youth Advisory Committee I’d look at you crazy. I never thought I’d be happy again. The Women’s Center has given me hope, courage, support. A place where I know I have a voice, where I know I can be open; truly. I can now say I’m a strong individual; I can set boundaries. I am more than what happened to me, I’m stronger, I’m better. Being a part of this group has helped me see my worth. It has changed my life for the better.

-- Samantha
Teen Space Support Group Participant

Montgomery County Women’s Center means empowerment, courage, love, & stability. The people here don’t pity me but they share empathy with me; they hear me. The counseling at has helped so much. It has helped me understand that it wasn’t my fault and to take control of the situation. It’s more of a safe place to let all my thoughts out.

-- Daisy
Support Group Participant

The Women’s Center has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. At the shelter I felt safe and was given resources to be able to stand on my own – away from my abuser. Then at Reaching Pines, I feel very supported and appreciate learning how to protect myself and notice red flags in future relationships.

-- Susan
Reaching Pines Resident

The Montgomery County Women’s Center is truly a life saver! The services provided are just invaluable. There really are no words to express my appreciation. The material covered through the Personal Empowerment Program classes is very well put together and I feel so fortunate to have been able to attend and gain knowledge.

-- Ashley
Domestic Violence Education Class Participant

For my students, The Women’s Center opens up a conversation about topics that are not always easy to address. It provides impactful information that can be eye opening and new to some, but very emotionally relevant to others. They then can take this information and related issues into their future work place, home, relationships. It can teach them what a healthy relationship is and what red flags to look for. Having the Outreach Team come speak to them is a wonderful teaching tool.

-- Susie
Sam Houston State University Professor

To the community Montgomery County Women’s Center means fellowship. It give us an identity and strength. It provides a reason to come together and work for a purpose and to surround each other with support.

-- Courtney
Sam Houston State University Professor

To me, The Women’s Center means the ability to start over on my own. It means new found freedom and assistance. To the community it means HOPE.

-- Jasmine
Counseling Client

For me, The Montgomery County Women’s Center is a lighthouse where there was once darkness. It is a place of healing.

-- Doris
Counseling Client

My volunteer experience has been so positive. Everyone who I come into contact here, every staff person, has been so helpful. It has made my experience very supportive. Being able to look back on the last two years and think about how many hours I’ve been on-call and how many people I’ve been able to talk to, it’s such a good feeling. Knowing that I’ve made a difference in my community and, hopefully, in the lives of those survivors is the best feeling and an amazing experience.

-- Sharon
Volunteer

The Montgomery County Women’s Center helped me realize the impact I can make in another’s life with only a few words!

-- Jamie
Volunteer

The Montgomery County Women’s Center means education. They provide the most comprehensive training for volunteers to be ready on their first shift. I am learning everyday through my work with them. My mind is more open.

-- Scarlett
Volunteer

The Women’s Center means the realization that as a community we are not doing enough to protect, believe, and empower survivors. By supporting the center I am able to change that.

-- Justin
Volunteer

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