A List of Options if You Have Been Assaulted
There is not one “right” way to be after experiencing sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence or stalking. The first step is to find a safe space where you feel that you can reach out for help. The next step is to find the kind of help you are looking for. There are emergency options, or it may be helpful to explore your options with a confidential advocate.
First, decide if you need help and what kind of help you need.
Emergency help can be provided if you are in immediate or imminent danger, need emergency medical attention or if you already know that you want to file a police report. Contact your school’s police department, public safety or student services office or call 9-1-1.
If you need medical help, you can go directly to the hospital that is closest to you (External Site) and go to the Emergency Department to seek care. Keep in mind, going to the hospital to receive care does not mean that you have to file a police report. Tell the intake specialist that you need to be treated for a sexual assault. You will be cared for by a specialized nurse Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (External Site). The specialist can provide you with emergency contraception, antibiotics for sexually transmitted infections and any other medical care you may need. This specialist can also collect forensic evidence, even if you do not want to file a police report. You are in control of what you would like to do.
Get help through an advocate:
You are entitled to have an advocate at no cost to you throughout the medical exam, and your advocate can help walk you through your next steps should you choose to take them. Reach out to an advocate via phone call or text: 1-800-871-7741 and someone from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (External Site) will be ready to assist you.
For non-emergency help, you may want to understand the difference between confidential resources and non-confidential resources. We strongly encourage anyone who has been affected to reach out to your campus Deputy/Title IX Coordinator to understand what resources are available on your campus, or to the University of Maine System Title IX Coordinator:
University of Maine System Coordinator of Title IX Services
241 Estabrook Hall
Orono, Maine 04469
You can also call a community, non-emergency 24/7 hotline to talk through your options, including:
- Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline: 1-800-871-7741
- Family Crisis Services: 1-800-573-6066
You may want to speak to an on-campus counselor to find support and assistance in determining your next steps.
You may choose to confide in a faculty or staff member. Most University employees are required by law to reach out to their campus Deputy/Title IX Coordinator whenever they receive a disclosure of this type from a student.
Second, collect medical and other evidence.
Whether or not an incident of sexual assault, harassment or misconduct is reported to the police or the university you attend, the University of Maine System strongly encourages those who have experienced sexual assault to preserve evidence as much as possible. Preserving evidence is the most impactful way to seek legal options in the future.
How to collect evidence:
There are three steps to collecting medical and physical evidence:
- Preserve – Do not bathe, douche, change clothes, comb hair or remove anything from the area in which the assault took place (bed sheets, rugs, etc.). This helps preserve evidence if you choose to prosecute.
- Go to the hospital to collect evidence – You can go directly to the hospital that is closest to you (External Site) and go to the Emergency Department to collect medical evidence. As you are checking in, tell the intake specialist or nurse that you need to be seen for a sexual assault. Keep in mind, going to the hospital to collect evidence does not mean that you have to file a police report. You will be cared for by a specialized nurse Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (External Site), a medical professional who has been specially trained to perform evidence collection. The examiner will ask you if you would like to report the assault to the police. You may choose to report or not to report—what happens next is entirely up to you. This examination is complex and takes three to four hours on average. The evidence can be collected anonymously while you take time to decide what the next step is for your own recovery.The state of Maine is able to pay for your medical bills up to $750 (External Site) through The Victim’s Compensation Program (External Site), which includes medical, dental, counseling and more.You are entitled to have an advocate at no cost to you throughout the medical exam, and your advocate can help walk you through your next steps should you choose to take them. Reach out to an advocate via phone call or text: 1-800-871-7741 and someone from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (External Site) will be ready to meet you at the hospital at any time. The hospital can also call for you when you get there.
- Make a record – Writing down, recording audio of or making a video of yourself telling the story of everything that you remember can be used as evidence. Whether you record it yourself or ask a friend to write it down as you recall the incident to them, it can be helpful to include the following information: the physical description and/or name of the perpetrator, specifics about what threats or use of force were used, the time and date of the assault, the location of the assault and any witnesses or others who saw you before or after the assault. Keep this account in a safe place and put a date on your notes. It can be helpful to take a picture of your notes or email them to yourself on your personal email account to keep a date and timestamp to record when the notes were taken; make sure that your email account is secure and that no one else has your password or access to the account.
Why is it so important to collect evidence?
Even if you do not know if you want to press charges at this time, collecting medical, physical and recorded evidence can be crucial for prosecuting a rape or sexual assault. In the state of Maine you have several years to file a report (External Site), but medical evidence is best collected within 72 hours of the incident and having medical evidence may strengthen your case. If you believe you may have been drugged you should seek medical attention as soon as possible because the drug may leave your system more quickly than 72 hours.
Third, understand your timeline options.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is make the right decisions for you, on your own timeline, based on how you feel. But being aware of legal and medical timelines may help you choose when and how you seek help.
Below you will find the recommended timelines for taking action when you are ready:
- As soon as possible: Make a record of what has happened. Be sure to record the time and date of the incident as well as the time and date of the record.
- Within 24 hours: If you believe you have been drugged, seek medical treatment as soon as possible because certain drugs will leave your system within 24 hours.
- Within 96 hours: If you wish to collect medical evidence and/or treat injuries, seek medical care within 96 hours (the sooner you seek medical care the better). This examination is complex and takes three to four hours on average. You do not need to file a report with the police or press charges in order to have evidence collected for future use.
- Within three to 20 years: The State of Maine allows between three and twenty years to report crimes related to sexual assault, depending on which crime has been committed. If the assault happened to a minor under the age of 16, there is no statute of limitations on reporting. Learn more about time limits (legally known as the statute of limitations) on the Maine Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) resource guide (External Site).
A Deputy/Title IX Coordinator can help you at any point in the process.
Fourth, understand the Title IX reporting process and decide if you would like to file a report.
The University of Maine System strongly encourages anyone who has experienced sex discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking to report the incident to the appropriate Deputy/Title IX contact at their university, or at the University of Maine System. A report can be made under at any time this policy, regardless of when the incident happened. Reporting the incident to the University does not mean that you have to file a formal complaint or file a police report. Reporting the incident, however, will allow the University to provide individuals involved with information about available support and services, both on campus and off campus.
The University will provide a prompt, fair and impartial investigation and resolution of the complaint.
Visit the complaint form (External Site) to make a Title IX complaint.
Additional resources and links:
If you are unsure of what resources you need, what has happened to you or if you want to explore your options before reaching out to a Title IX Coordinator, there are many pages on this site to help guide you through the process:
- Campus police and public safety offices on each campus
- Confidential resources across the University of Maine System
- Definitions of terms used in Title IX
- Form to fill out and submit a Title IX report (External Site)
- List of Deputy/Title IX Coordinators across the University of Maine System
- Non-confidential resources across the University of Maine System
- Title IX information for community members
- Title IX information for faculty and staff
- Title IX Information for students
- Title IX information for pregnancy and parenting
- University of Maine System Counseling Services
- “What to do if you have been accused” page