Is there a charge for services?
All services are free for survivors or their support people.
Who is eligible for services?
SARA services are available for anyone who has experienced sexual assault recently or in the past, as well as individuals impacted by the sexual assault of another (family, parents, spouse, friends, etc.).
Services are provided free to all survivors, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, age, economic status, education, parenthood, physical and/or mental abilities, national origin, immigration/documentation status or any other status.
Services are available to people living in the City of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson. Services may also be available to people who experienced sexual violence in our service area but not residents.
Anyone, at any time, can call our 24-hotline at 434-977-7273 to get specific information about how we may be able to assist, or call our main office line at 434-295-7273 during business hours.
Are services confidential?
YES! We do not disclose your personal information to anyone outside of the agency without your written permission. Our goal is to provide you with accurate information, immediate support, and on-going services that will support your healing process.
I was sexually assaulted, what should I do?
Our first concern is for your physical and emotional well being. Get yourself to a "safe" place where you will not feel in further danger. Everyone handles personal crisis differently. A sexual assault threatens a person's physical as well as emotional safety. Sexual assault is a personal attack like no other. When someone is sexually assaulted, the first instinct is to bathe/shower to wash away all memories of the rape. It is best for the sake of evidence collecting to avoid bathing until after a forensic medical exam at t hospital the UVA emergency room. There is no cost to you for this initial emergency exam. The hospital will bill Crime Victims Compensation directly for the cost of the exam. If you have already bathed, rest easy. You can still report to the police if you choose to and there may be evidence in your clothes that can be preserved. For adults, reporting to the police is an individual choice. You can go to the hospital emergency room within 120 hours of the assault to be checked out physically without reporting to the police. The most important thing is to get some assurance from a doctor that you are physically well.
What if I have questions, but I don’t want to report to the police?
SARA’s 24 hour hotline is available to answer any questions while you remain anonymous. Additionally, adults have the freedom to decide whether or not to report to the police. Everyone's situation is different and there are many reasons why you may not see reporting to the police as a viable option. We are very interested in making sure that individuals have accurate information from which to base this decision. If later you decide to report, our advocates can assist you through the criminal justice process.
Can family and friends or a survivor call the crisis line for help?
Yes, anyone can call the 24-hour crisis line (434) 977-7273 to get help and information concerning sexual assault.
What if a survivor feels that "it was their fault" that they were victimized?
Rape can happen to anyone, and no one is to blame for rape other than the rapist. The survivor is never at fault, no matter what they did or did not do to thwart the attack, what type of clothing they were wearing, or whether or not they were using alcohol or other drugs. No one deserves to be assaulted!
What can I do to help a survivor?
Seeing someone you care about in pain is difficult. After a sexual assault or sexual abuse, there are some important things you can do to help a survivor:
You can listen. Listening is one of the most important ways you can support a survivor of sexual assault. Not all survivors will want to talk about it right away; some will, and some will need more time. Try to resist the urge to ask questions, and let the person you care about know that you will be ready when he/she is.
You can believe. Survivors of sexual assault often worry that they will not be believed. If someone wants to talk with you about something as personal as sexual assault, it means that person trusts you. Try not to ask questions that sound like you don’t believe the story. In fact, tell the survivor directly, “I believe you.” When a survivor feels believed, you have helped begin his/her healing.
You can let them make choices. Assault takes away a person’s feelings of power and control. Respecting a survivor’s choices helps that person get those feelings back. Making decisions is an important way to feel powerful. You can help the survivor get information and understand options, but a survivor needs to make his/her own decisions. You can empower the person you care about by supporting his/her decisions, even if you may not agree with them.
You can get informed. Learn more about survivors’ common reactions to an assault. There are no “normal” reactions. If you know more, you can better understand and support the survivor.
You can take care of yourself. You are an important person in the survivor’s life if that person chooses to tell you about his/her assault. Take care of yourself and your feelings so that you will be better able to help them. All services at SARA are free, confidential, and available to you.
What is a Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE)?
Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNE) are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of patients who have experienced sexual assault or abuse. FNE nurses provide timely, compassionate, patient-centered care that is both supportive and reduces further trauma to the patient. FNE nurses also provide standardized care to the patient who reports a sexual assault, including thorough assessment, evidence collection, and coordinated care with a SARA advocate, and other specialties as needed. FNE nurses work together with the legal system to ensure the case goes through the legal system.
What hospital should I go to?
Any hospital emergency room is able to care for the immediate needs of all victims of sexual assault, including men, women, children, and transgender individuals. In our area, University of Virginia (UVA) hospital has a FNE (Forensic Nurse Examiner) Program. FNE Programs have specially trained nurses who can examine you and collect evidence.
If I am undocumented and I go to the hospital or report a sexual assault to Police, what will happen to me? Will I be deported?
The hospital and the police are concerned with making sure that you get the medical care that you need. Being undocumented in Virginia does not trigger a mechanism for deportation. If you are undocumented and are a victim of sexual assault, there may be protections under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that can help you stay in the country safely. SARA advocates and hotline volunteers can answer any questions you have and can also help you locate other resources as needed.
I live with the person who sexually assaulted me. Is there a safe place for me to stay?
There are many resources available to you in this situation. There is an emergency shelter in our area called the Shelter for Help in Emergency. SARA advocates and hotline volunteers can answer any questions and help you locate resources.