What to Do if You or Someone You Know
Click on a link below to learn about what to do if you or someone you know is a victim of abuse:
- Physical Abuse
- Psychological Abuse
- Sexual Assault (includes the PERK Exam)
- Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund
What to do if you or someone you know if the victim of physical abuse.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can assess danger to you and your children before it occurs.
- Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.
- If possible, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest pay phone is located. Know the phone number to your local battered women’s shelter. Don’t be afraid to call the police.
- Let trusted friends and neighbor’s know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
- Practice how to get out safely.
- Plan what you will do if your partner finds out about your plan.
- Hide an extra set of car keys.
- Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.
- Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked – for a quick escape.
- Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
- Call a domestic violence hotline to assess your options and get a supportive understanding ear.
- Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures.
- If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened. Ask that they document your visit.
- Keep a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events and threats made, if possible.
- Consider getting a protective or restraining order. For more information on how to get a protective order, please see the “File a Report and Protective Orders” Section on this website.
If you leave:
- If you decide to leave take with you important phone numbers of friends, relatives, doctors, schools, etc as well as other important items including:
- Driver’s license
- Regularly needed medication
- Credit cards or a list of credit cards you hold yourself or jointly
- Pay stubs
- Checkbooks and information about bank accounts and other assets
- Citizenship documents (such as your passport, green card, etc)
- Titles, deeds and other property information
- Medical records
- Children’s school and immunization records
- Insurance information
- Copy of marriage license, birth certificate, will and other legal documents
- Verification of social security numbers
- Valued pictures, jewelry or personal possessions
- Talk to the police or a domestic violence counselor about obtaining a restraining order.
- Consider renting a post office box or using the address of a friend for your mail.
- Be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports.
- Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number.
- Change your work hours, if possible.
- Alert school authorities of the situation.
- Reschedule appointments that the offender is aware of.
- Use different stores and social spots.
- Alert neighbors and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
- Replace wooden doors with steel or metal doors. Install security systems if possible.
- Install a motion sensitive lighting system.
- Have your calls at work screened by one receptionist if possible.
If you have a protective or restraining order:
- Give copies of the restraining order to employers, neighbors and schools along with a picture of the offender.
- Call law enforcement to enforce the order if it is broken.
- Keep a certified copy of your restraining order with you at all times.
- Inform friends, neighbors and employers that you have a restraining order in effect.
(Adapted from the National Domestic Violence Hotline) Copyright ©1998 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this copyright notice. http://www.whatsgoodaboutanger.com/safetypln.asp
*Go to the Virginia Policies Section for information on obtaining a Protective or Restraining Order
What to do if you or someone you know is the victim of psychological abuse.
- Educate yourself about emotionally abusive relationships.
- Consider seeing a mental health professional. A counselor can help you understand the impact of an emotionally abusive relationship. A counselor can also help you learn healthier ways to care for your own needs. With a counselor you can learn characteristics of healthy relationships.
- Learn how to set healthy boundaries. A counselor can also help with this. There is literature on this topic, as well.
- Realize that you cannot change your partner, only your reaction to him or her.
- Build your self-esteem.
- Talk to a friend. Maintain a good support system.
- Know if it is time to end the relationship.
- Be firm and clear with your decisions to make serious changes in your relationship.
What to do if you or someone you know is the victim of a sexual assault.
If the sexual assault has happened within the past 24-72 hours: 24-72 hours is the window of time in which forensic evidence can be collected. It is your choice if you want to have evidence collected and press charges. Even if you do not want to press charges or have forensic evidence collected, it is strongly suggested that you seek medical attention if you have been sexually assaulted at any time.
- Go to a safe place.
- Contact someone who can help you. Call a friend, a Resident Advisor, a college counselor in the JCHS Student Affairs Office, The Violence Against Women Program Office, or if after hours, The SARA Hotline.
JCHS Student Affairs Office (540) 985-8395 The VOICE
Program Office (540) 985-9711 The SARA
Program Hotline (540) 981-9352
- If possible, do not change clothes, shower, bathe or brush your teeth. If you do change clothes and shower, place clothing in a paper bag and take them with you to the hospital.
- Go to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital Emergency Department or Lewis Gale Emergency Department for a medical exam. Even if you do not think you have any injuries you should consider having a medical examination to make sure there are no physical injuries, and to protect against sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. If you think you may want to report it to the police, the hospital can also do a forensic examination to collect evidence. You may also request for a SARA Volunteer Companion to meet you at the hospital to offer emotional support. If you suspect that you may have been drugged, ask for a drug screen.
Carilion Roanoke Memorial Emergency Department (540) 981-7337
Lewis Gale Emergency Department (540) 776-4970
- Contact the police for information and assistance. Staff from the office of Student Affairs can help you make a police report and go with you to the police department. To make a report about an on-campus assault, notify JCHS Campus Security or Carilion Clinic Police. To report an off-campus assault, contact the Roanoke City Police Department.
JCHS Campus Security (540) 224-4687
Carilion Clinic Police (540) 981-7911 (7911)
Roanoke City Police Department 911
- Take pictures of any injuries. Even if you decide not to press charges now, you may change your mind in the future and pictures can be used for evidence. Pictures can also be taken when seeking medical attention.
The Forensic “PERK” Exam
A timely, well-done medical forensic examination can potentially validate and address sexual assault patients’ concerns, minimize the trauma they may experience, and promote their healing. At the same time, it can increase the likelihood that evidence collected will aid in criminal case investigation, resulting in perpetrators being held accountable and further sexual violence prevented.
A coordinated effort between forensic nurses, law enforcement, advocates and other key players is crucial to the victim-centered approach needed to successfully meet the victims’ needs.
Victims’ needs that may need to be addressed by forensic nursing, law enforcement and advocates include: evaluating and treating injuries; conducting prompt exams; providing support, crisis intervention, and advocacy; providing prophylaxis against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and referrals; assessing reproductive health issues; and providing follow-up contact/care. Addressing justice system needs may include obtaining a history of the assault; documenting exam findings; properly collecting, handling, and preserving evidence; and (postexam) interpreting/analyzing findings, presenting findings, and providing factual and expert opinions.
Evidence that may be collected includes, but is not limited to, clothing, foreign materials on the body, hair (including head and pubic hair samples and combings), oral and anogenital swabs and smears, body swabs, and a blood or saliva sample for DNA analysis and comparison.
Carilion Hospital – Forensic Nursing Examiner’s Program (FNE’s)
Cases that warrant an FNE:
- injuries resulting from lethal weapons (GSW's, stabbings)
- sexual assault
- drug facilitated sexual assault
- sharp and blunt force trauma
- suspect exams
- child abuse/neglect (includes physical and sexual abuse)
- elder abuse/neglect
- intimate partner or dating violence
- hit and runs
When time matters:
Following an act of violence, the FNE's first rule of order is to provide medical and nursing care to victims to ensure their health is evaluated and protected. Following initial care, FNE's identify any physical trauma, determine immediate psychological needs, document injuries, collect evidence and provide necessary referrals. With appropriate consent, this information may be used later for legal purposes.
Because time matters, our FNE's are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Carilion Roanoke Memorial, Carilion New River Valley, Carilion Franklin Memorial, and Bedford Memorial Hospitals.
FNE Patient Evaluation After a victim arrives in the Emergency Department, proper identification is made and a triage/life threats review is performed. All patients will receive physician evaluation and care for any injuries. The FNE then begins the process of a non-biased examination. The FNE's role includes:
- interviewing the patient to gather details about how and when the incident occurred (history of the event),
- performing a physical exam,
- including collecting and preserving evidence
- developing written and photographic documentation
- providing crisis intervention through community based support resources,
- including rape crisis centers
- child protective services
- social services programs
- reporting the incident to proper authorities, including law enforcement officials as appropriate.
- Administering prophylactic drug treatment in cases of sexual assault and rape
- Offering patient education
- Providing referral, discharge, and follow up
- Giving expert testimony in the legal process, if required
- Serving as community education stewards
General Information Police reports are not made without the consent of the patient unless it falls under mandatory reporting laws. Situations that are mandatory reporting include: cases of child or elder abuse, statutory rape (where the victim is under the age of 18 and the assailant is more than 3 years older than the victim), or injuries inflicted by lethal weapons like guns or knives. If you have questions or concerns about forensic care, abuse, rape, or violence, you can call and talk with the on call forensic nurse. If you have an urgent issue and need to speak to the on call forensic nurse, they can be reached by calling MEDCOM in the ED at Carilion Roanoke Memorial at 540-981-7337. The Forensic Nurse Office can be reached at 540-266-6025. You can leave a message and we will get back to you as quickly as possible. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions/concerns if you prefer to email instead of call. 24/7 we are here to help people who are victims of violence and abuse. Please do not hesitate to call us at any time if you have questions or concerns about what you should do or where to go for help.
Be aware of your rights during a forensic exam.
This is an important time for you to start taking back control after a sexual assault. Know and exercise your rights including:
- To be well informed in order to make your own decisions about participation in all components of the exam process. You have the right to decline any procedure of the exam. Your consent must be given before a procedure can be completed.
- You have right to request specific-gender responders (i.e. nurse, physician, law enforcement, advocate). Some victims are not comfortable working with a male detective or police officer after a sexual assault if the assault was committed by a man. It is the victim’s right to request a female or specific gender. However, be aware that a female responder may not always be available or on staff.
- You have the right to an advocate to be with you during the forensic exam to provide emotional support. You also have the right to decline this service. The nurse or hospital can request a local advocate for you.
- You have the right to confidentiality! Some hospitals or agencies may have specific laws or policies regarding confidentiality. Ask about the confidentiality policies.
- It is your decision to report the crime. However, if you are not sure right away if you want to report the crime, you may be strongly encouraged to proceed with the forensic exam. The exam and evidence can be saved in case you decide later you do want to press charges and prosecute.
- You have the right to be educated, tested and treated for STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) and pregnancy.
- You have a right to be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion from all responders!
Responders and Their Roles
- Advocates may be involved in initial victim contact (via 24-hour hotline or face-to-face meetings); offer victims advocacy, support, crisis intervention, information, and referrals before, during, and after the exam process; and help ensure that victims have transportation to and from the exam site. They often provide follow-up services designed to aid victims in addressing related legal and nonlegal needs.
- Law enforcement representatives (e.g., 911 dispatchers, patrol officers, officers who process crime scene evidence, and investigators) respond to initial complaints, work to enhance victims’ safety, arrange for victims’ transportation to and from the exam site as needed, interview victims, coordinate collection and delivery of evidence to designated labs or law enforcement facilities, and investigate cases.
- Health care providers assess patients for acute medical needs and provide stabilization, treatment, and/or consultation. Ideally, sexual assault forensic examiners perform the medical forensic exam, gather information for the medical forensic history, and collect and document forensic evidence from patients. They offer information, treatment, and referrals for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other nonacute medical concerns; assess pregnancy risk and discuss treatment options with the patient, including reproductive health services; and testify in court if needed. They typically coordinate with advocates to ensure patients are offered crisis intervention, support, and advocacy during and after the exam process and encourage use of other victim services. They may follow up with patients for medical and forensic purposes. Other health care personnel that may be involved include, but are not limited to, emergency medical technicians, staff at hospital emergency departments, gynecologists, surgeons, private physicians, and/or local, tribal, campus, or military health services personnel.
- Forensic scientists analyze forensic evidence and provide results of the analysis to investigators and/or prosecutors.
- Prosecutors determine if there is sufficient evidence for prosecution and, if so, prosecute the case. They should be available to consult with first responders as needed. A few jurisdictions involve prosecutors more actively, paging them after initial contact and having them respond to the exam site so that they can become familiar with the case and help guide the investigation.
Elements of community professional response typically include the following:
- Provision of medical care for victims as needed;
- Collection of evidence from victims, which may aid investigation and prosecution;
- Investigation of reports of sexual assault, which may lead to charges against suspects and prosecution;
- Support, crisis counseling, information and referrals for victims, as well as advocacy to ensure that victims receive appropriate assistance; and
- Support and information for victims’ families and friends.
If the sexual assault is in the recent or distant past:
- Consider talking with a counselor who is trained to assist students with the emotional and physical impacts of an assault. You can call the JCHS Student Affairs Office or JCHS Violence Against Women Program Office.
- Consider your legal and judicial options.
- If the assault is affecting your academic performance contact the Dean of Students Office or a college counselor about academic relief.
- Remember that it is not your fault and help is available.
(Adapted from A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations Adults/Adolescents U.S. Department of Justicel; Office on Violence Against Women;September 2004; NCJ 206554 The Virginia Tech Stop Abuse Program, Blacksburg, VA; and The Roanoke Carilion Memorial Hospital Forensic Nurse Examiner’s Program)
Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund
*Note: This information is taken directly from The Official Criminal Compensation Fund – Forensic Exam Site at http://www.cicf.state.va.us/forensic_exams.shtml
Effective July 1, 2008, victims of sexual assault are no longer required to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to have a forensic medical examination or for that examination to be paid for. See the Virginia Acts Of Assembly - 2008 (pdf) for the full text of the legislation change. NOTE: Mandatory reporting requirements for child and elder abuse still apply.
If you underwent a forensic examination to gather evidence after a sexual assault, all costs associated with the gathering of medical evidence will be paid for by CICF. The hospital should bill CICF directly. If you opted to receive information from CICF, you will receive notice when the bill has been paid and if there is any amount that you may owe. If at the time you elected not to receive correspondence from CICF, but would like to check on the status of your bill, or if you have been asked to pay any amount (including health insurance co-pays or deductibles), please call 800.552.4007 and ask to speak with the Forensic Payment Coordinator.
Please keep in mind that costs for treatment of injuries and any follow up appointments or medications are not included. If you have additional out-of-pocket expenses, you may be eligible for other benefits provided by CICF. You will need to complete a CLAIMS APPLICATION. See ELIGIBILITY BENEFITS for information on what CICF may be able to compensate you for, and the claim process. NOTE: The requirement of reporting the crime to police in order to apply for benefits does not apply to payment of your forensic examination. Additionally, payment of your examination is not calculated in the total maximum award when you apply for additional benefits.
At the time of your examination, you should have received a handout titled NOTICE REGARDING PAYMENT OF YOUR SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION. Please make sure to hang on to the handout as the date and location of your examination are written at the top as well as the Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) number. Should you decide to report the crime to law enforcement at a later date, you will need your PERK number. If you have lost the handout, you may contact CICF or the facility that performed the examination for your PERK number.
For Medical Providers
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund (CICF) will begin processing payment of forensic examinations on July 1, 2008. In order for CICF to process the payment promptly, the following conditions must be adhered to:
- A forensic examination was completed upon a complaint of sexual assault. NOTE: PERKs or forensic examinations for any other purpose must be approved by the Commonwealth Attorney, or his/her designee, in advance of the examination and submitted to the Supreme Court of Virginia for payment in accordance with the Criminal Fund.
- The alleged assault occurred within the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- Evidence has been collected within 72 hours of the alleged assault (good cause for collection beyond that window must be submitted by the forensic nurse examiner).
- The REQUEST FOR PAYMENT FORM (pdf) must be completed and accompany an itemized, detailed bill. Click PERK Policy and Guidelines (pdf) to see the payment policy as well as a list of items that are approved for payment.
- The form and bill may be sent to CICF by any of the following means:
Mail to: P.O. Box 26927
Richmond, VA 23261
Fax to: 877.377.5164
Email to: email@example.com
NOTE: Bills submitted after July 1, 2008 with a date of service prior to July 1, 2008 must be approved by the local Commonwealth’s Attorney, or his/her designee, and then sent to CICF with authorization information as well as an itemized, detailed bill.
IMPORTANT: Per §19.2-368.5:2 and §19.2-368.11:1(F) of the Code of Virginia, the patient may not be placed into collections once this form is filed with CICF. Per §19.2-368.5:2 and §19.2-368.11:1(F) of the Code of Virginia, the patient may not be placed into collections once this form is filed with CICF.
What to do if you or someone you know is the victim of stalking.
- Documentation and Report to the Police: Victims are encouraged to keep a log of all stalking behaviors including e-mails and phone messages. The log, as well as any gifts or letters the stalker sends the victim, can be collected and used as evidence. The evidence will help prove what has been going on if the victim decides to report the stalking to the police or apply for a protective order. Important tips and advice on how to document stalking behaviors and collect evidence, including a sample stalking log, can be found on the Stalking Resource Center's website at http://www.ncvc.org/src.
- Rely on Trusted People: Many victims have found simple ways to make the stalking affect them less. They may ask someone else to pick up and sort their mail, get a second phone number given only to trusted people, or have people at work or school screen phone calls or inform the police if the stalker shows up. Relying on trusted friends and family is important for victims of stalking to help keep victims safer and also reduce the isolation and feelings of desperation that stalking victims may experience.
- Victims should always trust their instincts and never minimize the stalker's behavior. If you feel unsafe, assume you are unsafe, and seek assistance without delay.
- Many program providers, particularly those working with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, are aware of the sensitive and difficult issues that may arise in stalking cases.
- Community based victim assistance providers include organizations such as crisis intervention centers, domestic violence shelters, and support groups which can provide victim services like counseling, court accompaniment, a safe place to stay, and advocacy. System based victim assistance providers are usually part of the police department or prosecutor's office and can provide many of the same services to victims who choose to bring charges against a perpetrator.
- If a community or system based victim service provider cannot offer suitable advice and assistance, they should still be able to make referrals to organizations that can help. If they are not able to do so please call the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-800-FYI-CALL.
- Stalking victims are not to blame for the stalker's behavior. All victims are entitled to help from victim services professionals.
- Victims who feel anxious, depressed, or stressed for more than a short period of time should request referrals to suitable healthcare providers. Stalking can trigger conditions like depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which may benefit from treatment.
- Check all relevant laws where you live. Victim assistance providers or your local prosecutor's office should have information about state statutes.
- Consider what other criminal offenses the stalker has committed, for example: physical or sexual assault, damage to/theft of your property, or breaking into your home. This may make it possible to prosecute the stalker even if they can't be prosecuted under a specific stalking law.
Stalking Safety Tips Safety Anytime:
- If possible, have a phone nearby at all times, preferably one to which the stalker has never had access. Memorize emergency numbers, and make sure that 911 and helpful family or friends are on speed dial.
- Treat all threats, direct and indirect, as legitimate and inform law enforcement immediately.
- Vary routines, including changing routes to work, school, the grocery store, and other places regularly frequented. Limit time spent alone and try to shop at different stores and visit different bank branches.
- When out of the house or work environment, try not to travel alone and try to stay in public areas.
- Get a new, unlisted phone number. Leave the old number active and connected to an answering machine or voicemail. Have a friend, advocate, or law enforcement screen the calls, and save any messages from the stalker. These messages, particularly those that are explicitly abusive or threatening, can be critical evidence for law enforcement to build a stalking case against the offender.
- Do not interact with the person stalking or harassing you. Responding to stalker's actions may reinforce their behavior. (Complete disengagement may be difficult for some victims in certain circumstances (e.g. victim and stalker share custody of children, work in the same location, attend the same school, etc. Victims are encouraged to explore these concerns when creating a safety plan.)
- Consider obtaining a protective order against the stalker. Some states offer stalking protective orders and other victims may be eligible for protective orders under their state's domestic violence statutes.
- Trust your instincts. If you're somewhere that doesn't feel safe, either find ways to make it safer, or leave.
If in imminent danger, locate a safe place. Consider going to:
- Police Station.
- Residences of family or friends (locations unknown to the perpetrators).
- Domestic violence shelters.
- Place of worship.
- Public areas (some stalkers may be less inclined toward violence or creating a disturbance in public places).
Safety at home:
- Identify escape routes out of your house. Teach them to your children.
- Install solid core doors with dead bolts. If all keys cannot be accounted for, change the locks and secure the spare keys. Fix any broken windows or doors.
- Have a code word you use with your children that tells them when they need to leave.
- Inform neighbors and, if residing in an apartment, any on-site managers about the situation, providing them with a photo or description of the stalker and any vehicles they may drive if known. Ask your neighbors to call the police if they see the stalker at your house. Agree on a signal you will use when you need them to call the police.
- Pack a bag with important items you'd need if you had to leave quickly. Put the bag in a safe place, or give it to a friend or relative you trust.
- Consider putting together a "stalking sack" that includes the stalking log, a camera, information about the offender, etc.
Safety at work and school:
- Give a picture of the stalker to security and friends at work and school.
- Tell your supervisors. They have a responsibility to keep you safe at work.
- Ask a security guard to walk you to your car or to the bus.
- If the stalker contacts you, save any voicemails, text messages, and e-mails.
- Give the school or daycare center a copy of your protective order. Tell them not to release your children to anyone without talking to you first.
- Make sure your children know to tell a teacher or administrator at school if they see the stalker.
- Make sure that the school and work know not to give your address or phone number to anyone.
- Keep a copy of your protective order at work.
(Copyright © 2009 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this copyright notice.)
What to do if you or someone you know is the victim of stalking by uses of technology.
- Victims who are under the age of 18 should tell their parents or another adult they trust about any harassments and/or threats.
- Experts suggest that in cases where the offender is known, victims should send the stalker a clear written warning. Specifically, victims should communicate that the contact is unwanted, and ask the perpetrator to cease sending communications of any kind. Victims should do this only once. Then, no matter the response, victims should under no circumstances ever communicate with the stalker again. Victims should save copies of this communication in both electronic and hard copy form.
- If the harassment continues, the victim may wish to file a complaint with the stalker's Internet service provider, as well as with their own service provider. Many Internet service providers offer tools that filter or block communications from specific individuals.
- As soon as individuals suspect they are victims of stalking by technology, they should start collecting all evidence and document all contact made by the stalker. Save all e-mail, postings, or other communications in both electronic and hard-copy form. If possible, save all of the header information from e-mails and newsgroup postings. Record the dates and times of any contact with the stalker.
- Victims may also want to start a log of each communication explaining the situation in more detail. Victims may want to document how the harassment is affecting their lives and what steps they have taken to stop the harassment.
- Victims may want to file a report with local law enforcement or contact their local prosecutor's office to see what charges, if any, can be pursued. Victims should save copies of police reports and record all contact with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor's office.
- Victims who are being continually harassed may want to consider changing their e-mail address, Internet service provider, a home phone number, and should examine the possibility of using encryption software or privacy protection programs. Any local computer store can offer a variety of protective software, options and suggestions. Victims may also want to learn how to use the filtering capabilities of email programs to block e-mails from certain addresses.
- Furthermore, victims should contact online directory listings such as www.411.com, www.switchboard.com, and www.whowhere.com to request removal from their directory.
- Finally, under no circumstances should victims agree to meet with the perpetrator face to face to "work it out," or "talk." No contact should ever be made with the stalker. Meeting a stalker in person can be very dangerous.
(Copyright © 2009 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this copyright notice.)