Here’s what experts say to do after experiencing sexual assault in Alaska


In the dispatch of reporting Unheard and interviewing dozens of survivors, questions surfaced again and again round what to do after a sexual assault, and how to navigate social services and the permissible system.

The following resources are intended to inform survivors, their blood members and friends, and others in the community about ways they can request help.

We consulted six professionals in Alaska, including a therapist, a law enforcement dick, advocates for survivors, a nurse and a prosecutor. The following is a compilation of their conduct on choices survivors can make. Each case is unique; here they make available general advice for adult survivors. Each expert comes from a separate background, and the advice they offer sometimes differs based on their skilful orientation.

• • •

Section 1: Reporting Sexual Assault

Section 2: Forensic Exams and Explorations

Section 3: Emotional and Psychological Care

Section 4: Sell With the Legal System

• • •

I’ve just been assaulted. Where do I establish?

• Do not wait to seek urgent medical care if you need it.

• A crisis hotline can assistants you assess your options.

• The choice of whom to tell is personal. Ample options may include law enforcement, a sexual assault advocate, a medical proficient, a therapist, and friends and family.

• Telling law enforcement as soon as possible can relief preserve evidence. But it is not required. You can still get medical care, counseling, and a earthy assault exam (sometimes known as a “rape kit” exam) even if you prefer not to report to law enforcement.

“We like to say there’s no wrong way to access our services. … Certainly if someone has been assaulted or notes like they may have been assaulted, then to call advantageous away, we would very much encourage that. No one ever has to apply oneself to their name or identify themselves in receiving support through our turning-point line (800-478-8999).

“If somebody needs … immediate medical care, then they should go to the crisis room. Especially if they’re in pain or they’ve been strangled or bear other physical injuries that need treatment. … We don’t own that kind of medical equipment at the clinic that they will-power have at a hospital. Strangulation can be deadly.”

— Keeley Olson, executive boss, Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), Anchorage

Keeley Olson adjoined Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) in 2007 as program official and became the executive director in 2015. Olson studied social on the dole in Montana and has spent her career in the area of domestic violence and sexual attack in Montana, Washington and Alaska. Photographed at University Lake on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (Charge Roth / ADN)

“Contact … our (911) emergency dispatch right away so we can get the resources common there. What they’re going to get with that, based on what they clock in, is patrol officers. … It’s a priority call. If they state any pregnant injuries, we’re going to have paramedics head that way to get an initial appraisal.”

— Lt. Shaun Henry, former commander, Crimes Against Children Component and Special Victims Unit, Anchorage Police Department

Lt. Shaun Henry has past 25 years of experience in law enforcement and is currently the APD training commander. He has redundant as a patrol sergeant, training instructor, SWAT member and lieutenant. He tired the first half of his career with the San Diego Police Department in California and has been with the APD since 2006. Photographed on May 19, 2020. (Marc Lester / ADN)

How do I unearth a crisis line?

• STAR Alaska serves the Anchorage area and Southcentral Alaska. It also runs a 24-hour hotline convenient to anyone in need. The person on the other end of the line will ask you a series of suspicion on a under discussions to help you decide on next steps. Their number is: 907-276-7273 or 800-478-899 (chiming free).

• Crisis lines serving other parts of Alaska can be set here, in a listing by the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Incursion.

• The National Sexual Assault Hotline is an option for people in Alaska and other delineates. Their number is: 800-656-HOPE

“If somebody feels like they’ve been assaulted, the top rank is to make sure that regardless of whether it’s something that can be followed, are they getting the medical care that they need? Are they being reassured that they’re OK? Are they getting prophylaxis medications to avoid long-term real consequences such as pregnancy or STIs (sexually transmitted infections) that go with that? And are they make follow-up care, and are they getting advocacy and services to help them on account of that process? … We can’t control what happens with the lawbreaker legal proceedings. … We focus on what we’re doing to help the survivor.”

— Keeley Olson, Prominence Together Against Rape (STAR) in Anchorage

How do I report anonymously?

• Roar a crisis line. Advocates can talk you through your options, and potentially collect summon law enforcement on your behalf without revealing your identity.

• As element of your anonymous report, you may choose to have a forensic exam to meet evidence from your body. The forensic exam kit will not be proofed for DNA unless the survivor opts to deanonymize and make a report to law enforcement. But the manifestation is preserved, giving you time to make that decision.

“Work with the guard or just show up at the hospital. … There’s no name attached to (an anonymous exam kit). It’s objective a number. So they could, down the road, call (police) and say … ‘I’d similar to to give a report of what happened with this kit.’”

— Carly Starts, sexual assault victim advocate, Fairbanks

Carly Wells is a fool advocate at a service organization in Fairbanks who works on a sexual assault rejoinder team (SART). She has worked with dozens of survivors as they direct social services and the legal system. Photographed in Fairbanks on January 8, 2020. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Regular News)

What if I didn’t tell anyone right away?

• You can make public an assault at any point. The earlier you choose to do so, however, the easier it will be for control to investigate.

• Some people may decide to report years after the anyway in the reality. You can always start with a counselor or therapist.

“It doesn’t matter if it was today, a duo weeks ago or last year. Report it as soon as they’re comfortable researching. … (A forensic exam) is not required. We will still do an investigation. We’ll quieten have a detective take the case and work it.”

— Lt. Shaun Henry, Anchorage Regulate Department

“We have a full week from the time of the event to be masterful to get them in for a SART (sexual assault response team) response. … It is move up forensic work with our crime lab that they have organize that they’ve been able to get viable evidence up to seven epoches.”

— Keeley Olson, Standing Together Against Rape (STAR) in Anchorage

“I manage a lot of people who are long-term survivors of sexual assault and abuse and who may have had it materialize to them at very young ages, who are dealing with it in my office now, 40s and 50s, straight 60s, because that’s a post-traumatic stress response. … Sometimes the proclamation is late in life that I actually am a survivor of this.”

— Ebony McClain, clinical psychotherapist, Anchorage

Ebony McClain began her career as a schoolteacher, later making her master’s degree in clinical counseling and her Ph.D. in psychology. She frequently treats patients with histories of trauma, abuse and domestic violence. Photographed in her counseling section in downtown Anchorage on February 17, 2020. (Marc Lester / ADN)

I’ve just been smit. What should I do to preserve the evidence?

• Try not to bathe, eat or clean up before demand care.

• Keep your clothes and store them in paper valises.

• If you choose to get a “rape kit” exam, more formally called a sexual sortie forensic exam, it is best to do so as soon as possible.

“We don’t really need them to draw things. What we’d rather they do is just not change, modify or get rid of factors. Don’t change clothes. Don’t throw clothes away. Don’t try to clean up evidence or fancies like that. That’s all stuff that we need to collect. That’s truly crucial to the investigation. The more we can preserve while helping the victim out, watch over their dignity and everything, that’s the priority. The more we preserve is flourishing to help us get a better case.”

— Lt. Shaun Henry, Anchorage Police Hinge on

“It’s best not to bathe or shower if possible, not to be real vigorous in cleaning. If any business of the assault was oral, not to brush one’s teeth or eat or drink anything before accepted in for an examination. That’s not always feasible and it doesn’t mean that they’re universal to destroy every bit of evidence if they’ve done that. … (Put clothing) in a exegesis bag, not plastic, that plastic can degrade evidence.”

— Keeley Olson, Longevity Together Against Rape (STAR) in Anchorage

Where do I get a sexual violation forensic exam?

Availability varies from city to city.

• In Anchorage, gather STAR Alaska or police for instructions. The forensic exam site is a closest center not in a hospital.

• In Fairbanks, forensic exams take place at Fairbanks Reminder Hospital.

• In hub cities, call the local crisis line or hospital difficulty department for information.

• In villages, call a crisis hotline or law enforcement for report on where to go, usually the nearest hub city.

Who is the person doing the exam?

• Exams are conducted by medical whizes with special training, not law enforcement.

“I’m a nurse. … I happen to be suffering with extra training on how to collect evidence, but everything I’m doing is health trouble. …We are not part of law enforcement in any way, shape or form.”

“People know about the prepare or they think about ‘the kit.’ … But a lot of people don’t know what they hunger for to do by the time I see them. … The expectation, for me, is helping them navigate that steadfastness or doing the best I can to get the evidence collected.”

— Christine Fontaine, forensic suckle examiner, South Peninsula Hospital, Homer

Christine Fontaine in the push of Homer’s new Center of Excellence clinic, a space dedicated to providing military talents for sexual assault survivors. Fontaine provides medical treatment, display collection and emotional support to survivors in the immediate aftermath of sexual blitzkrieg. She moved to Homer from Chicago 25 years ago, working blue ribbon in family planning and women’s health before becoming a registered breast-feed. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

Who will be there to support me if I have an exam?

• You can cut back a trusted friend or family member.

• Many shelters or crisis centers also proposal an advocate to support you.

“Grief takes you to a different place. You don’t know how to put one foot in facing of the other. So to have somebody who’s there with you, who can help you walk from top to bottom it, is more powerful than I think most people understand.

“Cry with them, hoot a deride with them, or be silent. (An advocate) will help you navigate the forensic exam activity and help answer your questions regarding making a report to law enforcement. If you be suffering with a trusted friend or family member they can be there for you as an advocate too.”

— Carly Wells, butt advocate, Fairbanks

What should I do afterward?

• Physical and emotional self-care are consequential.

• Connect to others you trust.

“After your exam, take a lively bath to help your body heal. Eating and sleeping also hands. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.”

— Carly Wells, victim advocate, Fairbanks

How do I finger out about the results of my exam? What do they mean?

• If you make a shot to law enforcement, they or an advocate should contact you about your terminates. It may take a long time.

• DNA evidence can show that sex occurred, but it cannot be found consent or nonconsent.

“DNA testing often takes quite a while for the lab to do. But when we get those developments back, we will reach out almost immediately.”

— Lt. Shaun Henry, Anchorage The Old Bill Department

“Don’t do this just because you think it’s going to solve the unbroken case. … I think a lot of (survivors) think, ‘I’m going to have evolves soon and then they’re going to catch this guy and it’s going to authenticate this, this and this.’ And that’s not normally the case. So it’s just a smashed similar of the puzzle.”

— Carly Wells, victim advocate, Fairbanks

What kinds of understandings do people experience after an assault?

• Sexual assault can lead to a non-specific range of emotional responses. Each person is different.

• A variety of experts can help treat the trauma associated with sexual assault in various ways.

“In the immediate aftermath, I’ve seen everything from emotional numbness to noteworthy anger. … One moment they’re numb, the next moment they are expressing anger or intense crying, full-on dissociation. … And I’ve also had women who’ve questioned themselves and the actuality of whether they contributed to the assault. I see a lot of shame and guilt associated with that. And I be dressed seen women who have actually continued relationships with people who compel ought to sexually assaulted them. … It’s a real abuse of power on the bodily who is on the end of that assault. There are so many reactions that you have when … you force been controlled, abused, assaulted, violated.”

— Ebony McClain, clinical advisor, Anchorage

“We kind of expect, if you’re raped, it’s going to be obvious. And most of the for the present, it’s not. … There’s not massive proof of force. And sometimes that appears to make the victim feel worse, almost. … That doesn’t have as justification we don’t believe you, or that there wasn’t something horrendous that go oned.”

— Carly Wells, victim advocate, Fairbanks

What are some vulgar coping mechanisms? What should I know about drugs, John Barleycorn and sexual partners?

• Many survivors use substances in the aftermath of a sexual assail, although it can be detrimental for their health.

• For a variety of reasons, survivors from time to time seek out multiple sexual partners after an assault.

“(This is) where I see a lot of the most harmful coping: either with not talking at all, not disclosing at all, not feeling safe sufficiency or emotionally safe enough to disclose with anyone, or abusing spirits or drugs.

“A lot of times (seeking out multiple partners), that’s about the shamefacedness a surpass and the guilt of abuse. So if I already feel like I’m unworthy and I’m not good passably and there’s no value in my body, then it doesn’t matter who I sleep with. … And then there’s the other side of the currency where some women have felt like their good is in sex only. … So they’re going to take the power back by … bring into the world sex with someone.”

— Ebony McClain, clinical therapist, Anchorage

What are some overconfident coping strategies?

“I encourage my women to first journal and to have one credited individual that you can actually talk to about your experience. I also incite that women join groups, that they join survivor circles, so that they’re able to speak to other women about the occurrences that they’ve had.”

— Ebony McClain, clinical therapist, Anchorage

Someone forecast me they experienced a sexual assault. How can I be helpful?

• Respond with compassion.

• Sidestep judgment.

• Listen.

“I say empathy and compassion and validation of the experience, that it’s genuine. … People have to come from that place of being nonjudgmental and unbooked and be listening as opposed to telling the person what they should do. It’s barely more important that you actually listen to a person’s experience fully.”

— Ebony McClain, clinical analyst, Anchorage

“Be gentle. Be tender. Be kind. Ask how you can support them. Offer to go with them to the facility or to the police. Don’t judge. Don’t ask too many questions. Be a safe and supportive place for them — they are traumatized, they necessity kindness and someone to empower them to make their own choices since their high-quality was just taken away with the assault. Ask them if you can hug them — if they say no, don’t be affronted. Be OK with their pain — don’t try and take it away or brush it off — let them shed tears and be sad. Sit in that place with them. “

— Carly Wells, victim supporter, Fairbanks

I reported my assault to the police. When will I hear from them?

• Examinations can take a long time.

• Survivors can reach out to the detective on their what really happened for status updates.

“The detectives will stay in touch with them and admonish them along the way on how the case is progressing. …Regarding the actual police questioning, they’ll have their case number and the contact information of the possibility detective. …They’re welcome to call anytime they thirst for. We will usually contact them when something new develops or we deficiency to move further with the case one way or the other. But there’s no set timeline.”

— Lt. Shaun Henry, Anchorage Guard Department

Who does the prosecutor represent?

“We represent the state of Alaska. We commonly work very closely with victims. We always listen to what the schnooks say, but they’re not our client, as it were. That is really the state of Alaska and within that, this concept of (pursuing) justice.”

— Jenna Gruenstein, assistant attorney general, Mediation of Special Prosecutions, state of Alaska

Jenna Gruenstein, a former fellow district attorney, serves as the prosecutor assigned to represent the Alaska Domain of Law in the Department of Public Safety’s Sex Assault Kit Initiative. Gruenstein specializes in the prosecution of carnal crimes committed against adults and children and has led trainings across the affirm for law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates and medical personnel. Photographed in downtown Anchorage on Wednesday, April 27, 2020. (Restaurant check Roth / ADN)

Will there be criminal charges against the perpetrator?

• Not all turn up cases will lead to charges or a trial.

• But some prosecutions for procreative assault are successful.

“It depends. …The prosecutor reviews a case to see whether he or she take its it can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. That is a high measure, and it means that some cases will not be prosecuted even when the prosecutor conjectures that a crime occurred. We’re going to be looking at all of the evidence available in each prove and make a determination based on our review of that evidence.”

— Jenna Gruenstein, Subsidiary Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions

Why do prosecutors offer pretext request bargains?

“There’s several reasons, and I think that probably the overwhelm reason for it is that it offers certainty. You never know what’s successful to happen at a trial. Even in a really strong case, something could develop and you could end up not getting a conviction.

“… By avoiding a trial, you avoid making a fool get up on the stand and testify. … There are times that testifying in a receptacle can actually be somewhat cathartic, at least in the long run … but for most people, it’s exceptionally stressful to get up and to testimony about what may be one of the worst incidents in their life.”

— Jenna Gruenstein, Friend Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions

What can happen if I go to court? How can I teach?

• The prosecutor will help you prepare. You will likely be questioned in extensively on uncomfortable topics.

“The reality of it is that the defendant’s right to confrontation babies it so that they’re able to ask about a lot of things that are tough for fall guys, such as alcohol use. It may be drug use. There are things we can do to try to limit that.

“I unendingly try to work with victims before they testify to explain the court get ready and discuss what questions they may be asked while testifying, as adequately as to make sure that the victim has a support system in place earlier, during and after their testimony — whether that is family, associates, or an advocate.”

— Jenna Gruenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Closest Prosecutions

I’m interested in talking to an ADN or ProPublica journalist. What should I up in mind?

Some survivors have told us that telling their romances publicly has been cathartic. If you’d like to share your experience with us, you can start with this questionnaire. We won’t tattle every story, but we do read what you submit. We take your solitude very seriously.

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