Understanding Your Rights as a Survivor of Sexual Violence

by | Dec 13, 2023 | Assault, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Uber Sexual Assault

Sexual violence is a deeply traumatic experience that can have profound and lasting effects on survivors. In the aftermath of such a harrowing event, it is crucial for survivors to be aware of their rights, resources, and avenues for seeking justice and support. Understanding and asserting these rights is a pivotal step towards healing and reclaiming control.

The path toward healing and justice is not one that survivors must walk alone. At Kherkher Garcia, our sexual assault and misconduct lawyers help victims every step of the way. Below, we offer a comprehensive guide to knowing your rights as a survivor of sexual violence. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Your Rights as a Survivor of Sexual Violence

Knowledge of one’s rights as a survivor of sexual violence is empowering. It enables survivors to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, seek support, pursue justice, and take steps towards healing and recovery. Below are some of the fundamental rights that you have as a survivor.

Right to Safety and Wellbeing

Every individual has the inherent right to safety and security. Survivors of sexual violence have the right to protect themselves from further harm. This includes seeking immediate medical attention, contacting law enforcement if they choose to do so, and accessing safe spaces and shelters provided by various organizations dedicated to supporting survivors.

Right to Consent and Autonomy

One of the fundamental rights of every person is the right to autonomy over their body and the right to give or withhold consent. Survivors have the absolute right to control what happens to their bodies, and no one has the right to engage in any form of sexual activity without their explicit and voluntary consent.

Right to Confidentiality and Privacy

Survivors have the right to confidentiality and privacy regarding their experiences. This means that any information shared with medical professionals, counselors, or advocates remains confidential unless the survivor chooses otherwise or there is a legal obligation to report, such as mandatory reporting laws for minors.

Right to Medical Care and Support

Survivors of sexual violence have the right to receive immediate medical care, including examinations and treatment for physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and access to emergency contraception. Medical professionals are there to provide care, support, and evidence collection, even if the survivor decides not to report the assault to the authorities.

Right to Seek Legal Redress

Survivors have the right to pursue legal action against their perpetrators. They can report the assault to law enforcement and press charges. It is important to know that the legal system varies by jurisdiction and that seeking legal advice from an attorney specializing in sexual violence cases can provide invaluable guidance through the legal process.

Right to Support Services

Survivors are entitled to access support services such as counseling, therapy, and advocacy. Numerous organizations and hotlines are dedicated to providing emotional support, guidance, and resources to survivors as they navigate the aftermath of sexual violence.

Right to Accompaniment

Survivors have the right to have an advocate or support person present with them during medical examinations, interviews with law enforcement, and legal proceedings. Advocates can offer emotional support, information about the legal process, and ensure that the survivor’s rights are respected.

Right to Non-Discrimination

Survivors of sexual violence are protected from discrimination based on their survivor status. They should not face stigma, prejudice, or mistreatment in any aspect of their lives, including employment, education, or housing.

Right to Financial Compensation

In some cases, survivors may be eligible for financial compensation through victim compensation programs or civil lawsuits against the perpetrator. Such compensation may cover medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the assault.

Right to Healing and Recovery

Above all, survivors have the right to heal and recover at their own pace. There is no timeline for healing, and every survivor’s journey is unique. Seeking support from friends, family, support groups, and mental health professionals is an essential part of the healing process.

Empowering Survivors through Knowledge and Support

Understanding legal and personal rights is crucial for survivors of sexual violence to reclaim agency over their lives and seek the support and justice they deserve. It is important to remember that every survivor’s experience is valid, and there is no right or wrong way to cope with the aftermath of sexual violence.

Top Organizations Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence in Texas

Sexual violence can occur anywhere, at anytime, to anyone. Often, advocates and support organizations are localized by state or city. In Texas, there are a variety of organizations that provide support and guidance to victims of sexual violence. Some of the organizations that can help you understand and protect your rights include:

Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA):

  • Statewide organization with member programs across Texas.
  • Offers a 24/7 hotline, crisis intervention, support groups, legal advocacy, and prevention education.
  • Website: https://www.facebook.com/taasa/

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN):

  • National organization with resources and support for survivors of sexual violence.
  • Offers a 24/7 hotline, online chat, and information on local resources.
  • Website: https://www.rainn.org/

Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA):

  • Statewide network of legal aid providers offering free legal services to survivors of sexual assault.
  • Assistance with protective orders, restraining orders, immigration issues, and other legal matters.
  • Website: https://www.tlsc.org/

AVDA – Legal Advocacy Program:

  • Provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Offers assistance with protective orders, divorce, child custody, and other family law matters.
  • Website: https://avda.org/get-help/legal-aid/

Advocates for Victims of Crime (AVOICE):

  • Offers free legal representation and legal referrals to victims of violent crime, including sexual assault.
  • Assistance with protective orders, visa applications, and family law issues.
  • Website: https://www.tlsc.org/crimevictims

Houston Area Women’s Center:

  • Offers a variety of services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, including counseling, support groups, and legal advocacy.
  • Also provides services for children who have been victims or witnesses of crime.
  • Website: https://houstonwomensclinic.com/

RAICES Rural Services:

  • Provides legal and social services to immigrant survivors of sexual assault in rural Texas.
  • Assistance with immigration applications, legal representation, and social support services.
  • Website: https://www.raicestexas.org/

Working with a Lawyer after Sexual Violence

In addition to these resources, many survivors of sexual violence find it helpful to work with a skilled sexual assault and misconduct lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in these delicate cases has access to many resources that can help you protect yourself, your rights, and your wellbeing. A lawyer will also have in-depth knowledge of laws related to both criminal and civil elements of sexual violence cases. This is important as you pursue justice and any compensation that you may be entitled to.

At Kherkher Garcia, our sexual assault and misconduct lawyers have more than 30 years of experience helping victims recover from traumatic incidents. With compassion and empathy, our lawyers stand beside our clients to help them understand their rights and the best options for obtaining justice. We are committed to helping victims find solutions that work for them and their unique situation.

If you are a victim of sexual violence and you are unsure of where to turn, please contact our team to find out how we can assist you. Our consultations are completely free and confidential. To get started, call us at 713-333-1030, or fill out our confidential online contact form.

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Bret Stanley

Bret Stanley

Firm Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Firm Partner Bret Stanley. Bret is a practicing injury lawyer with more than 12 years experience. He has won Millions in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. Bret’s practice areas have focused on helping clients with rideshare sexual assault, product liability, pharmaceutical device and drug claims, mass tort litigation, catastrophic personal injury litigation, complex insurance litigation, and Jones Act / Maritime Injury litigation.

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