Law provides care to Rape Survivors

A guest blog article by Erin V. (student, world citizen)

Illinois’ Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act (a.k.a SASETA law – 410 ILCS 70/5), passed in 1987, was one of the first of its kind in the United States. The SASETA law is meant to put the well being of the patient at the forefront of a health care professionals mind, no matter what it’s going to cost them. In fact, the patent never even receives a bill for the medical services provides since the burden of a bill is the last thing a survivor of sexual assault needs after such a traumatic experience as rape.

With a rape culture like the one we currently face in American society, this Act is still 100% necessary, even if all hospitals do not follow it the way they should.

For instance, a friend of mine worked for the sexual assault department of a Joliet Illinois hospital for some time. I heard war stories of how awful hospital staff was to the survivors of sexual assault. It’s important that all survivors receive the proper treatment and are not just brushed off, which sadly is often the case even with the law in place.

The first point of this Act is that these survivors are made a priority, of distinct importance on many levels.
Rape survivors often have injuries which need to be treated post haste. It is important that no evidence is lost between the time they walk through those Emergency Room doors to the time they get examined. At a deeper level, there needs to be a recognition of the psychological impact. Basically, if given too much time to sit and wait, they may get scared of re-victimization and leave without much needed medical treatment. This goes along with the second point in the Act which demands they be brought to a private room immediately.

Rape Survivors have been stripped of any privacy they had previously and should be given special attention so they know that they are indeed in a safe place.

A majority of the Act then goes on to discuss the necessity of informing the patient of what could happen, such as pregnancy and STDs, and how to prepare for that. The most important part of this Act is providing survivors with the proper counseling after they leave the hospital.

It is crucial to the healing process that these survivors know that what happened to them is not okay and not their fault.

Additionally, providing counseling reminds someone facing this kind of trauma that getting help is good for you and that the trauma does not need to define who they are going forward. By providing the appropriate counseling to survivors, they can receive the help they need and hopefully prevent permanent physiological damage as a result of the traumatic events. Survivors deserve to know what happened to them is wrong and should not be tolerated in society.

Sadly, however, sexual assault is too often brushed under the rug. This includes some of the blame being placed on the survivor, which will do more harm than good.

Most importantly, a law like this, when practiced properly, can help survivors rise above the situation and be a better person because of what has happened to them.

In the end, this law helps society as a whole, one person at a time. With fair and just treatment, survivors of sexual assault can regain their strength, possibly even the courage to speak out against sexual assault.  Sexual Assault survivors do matter and should be treated as such. This can only help build awareness regarding rape culture in the hopes of putting an end to it altogether.

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29 thoughts on “Law provides care to Rape Survivors

  1. I agree that sexual assault victims should recieve extra attention from everyone that could offer support. I don’t really know much from personal experience on how hospital staff is mistreating rape victims but I can imagine that even hospitals judgmental people are being hired. I do also agree that rape victims should be more informed on their situation following the event and even immediately talk to a professional so they can be assured they didn’t do anything wrong. As far as the act goes there a lot of laws passed that people don’t take seriously so it’s no wonder hospital staff could be rude and not really care for the patients. Many times people don’t take these things seriously, like me for example when I heard that Kobe Bryant supposedly raped some woman I thought that she just wanted his money and that he doesn’t need to rape anyone. Maybe I’m wrong for thinking that in that specific event but I’m sure many real rape victims get the same treatment.

    1. I agree with this law. I never personally seen hospitals mistreat rape victims but I have seen patients who need serious attention treated unfairly. I thinks if its done correctly alot of rape victims would go through less stress levels decrease. It would help get them through the situation and continuing on with their lives.

    2. Hello Michael B:

      I totally agree with you Michael. The reason why is because sadly I have had to deal with this in my life time. I am so glad for the laws that passed, but I do agree that, “many people don’t take them seriously. Which means that staff of most hospitals could be rude and not really care for the patients.” As you had stated in your comment. I dealt with that when I went through that trauma in my life and it made things harder for me. I did get through it though and I am a stronger person because of it.

  2. I agree with you Michael, I believe sexual assault victims should we receive more attention from the public as we as the hospital staffs and etc. For one, this victims has gone through a tragic time where some people wouldn’t even believe that she has been raped because of the stereotypes that are attached with rape; Disagreeing or making a victim seem as if they are not important can destroy that person in the long run. That is why more people should volunteer their services to sexual assault victims to help them understand that they don’t have to be stressed and that they aren’t alone in the process of their recovery. I’m not really comfortable about taking about victims occasions with rape because i personally hate the fact that people would rape a innocent person. No means no, always have and always will.

    1. Marquis P:

      I agree with you in every way. Victims should receive more attention. I was one of those victims at one point sadly and even though I wasn’t treated poorly, which is good, I had to wait a pretty long time to get help. I also agree with the point you said about how victims going through a tragic time and some people wouldn’t even believe that the girl/boy was raped because of stereotypes. I am so upset when people think what I went though is all a lie. I was taught that one thing you never tell a rape victim is that they are a lair or that you don’t believe them because that will just make them feel worse. Lastly, I also agree with your last statement, “No means no, always have and always will.” That is a great point.

  3. I definitely agree with you that if practiced properly the Sexual Assault Act should still be present in society today. Why because, like you said they should be giving the most priority being that what they have gone through is not such an easy topic to discussed and cases like this should be treated with the most privacy and delicacy. It also true that most of the times the victims are put to blame of what happened to them and I believe that is wrong. No one that has gone through a sexual assault should be blame for what happened to them. It wasn’t their fault and that being said they should be given the most importance and be taken care of. If people were to stop blaming the victim then cases like this would be treated much more efficiently.

    1. Out of every comment I have seen so far there isn’t one comment I disagree on. That is including this one Isabel I totally agree with your comment. I do believe that it should still be present in society today. With what people go through there is no doubt that they should be helped in every way possible. I think it is crazy that people deal with that when all they are looking for is a little help. To end off, I agree with you completely when you said, “It wasn’t their fault and that being said they should be given the most importance and be taken care of.” The reason why is because they dealt with a lot and now they just need a little guidance to find the path to recover.

  4. I believe that people who have been sexually assaulted should have laws like the SASETA to help them through their traumatic experience. Even though not all hospitals follow the law it is still good that rape victims have these options in such a tough time. I don’t understand how a medical staff can get away with treating their victims poorly. I agree that sexual assault is overlooked sometimes and that this issue needs more attention. This Act also allows rape victims to receive counseling and medical care which is very important. I also agree with how the victims are not charged bills for their medical services.

    1. Nick you are so right 100%:

      I believe that those people should have the SASETA laws to help them as well. When I went through the trauma I went through I sadly didn’t have the choice to use these laws to help me. They have the laws now, but I do see that even now with the laws some hospitals treat victims poorly which is crazy. As you stated, “I don’t understand how a medical staff can get away with treating their victims poorly.” They went through so much pain already they don’t need anymore. So again I agree with you and your comment.

    2. I agree with everything you’re saying. It is absolutely terrible that the victims were treated poorly. It just makes me think of how the victims of any traumatic event are treated. I don’t think anything that could affect anyone psychologically in a negative way should ever go overlooked. It would be like someone getting hurt really bad. Is it okay for the doctor to say that the person can’t receive treatment? of course not, so why should they get to neglect to those that have been harmed psychologically?

      1. Totally Micheal. It is so inhuman. I mean we are all humans. We have feelings. We have physical and mental needs. With that being taken away from us it’s like some humans don’t see us as other humans. More or less they see us as animals. I would never wanted to be treated like an animal because I am in fact human. Personally, I never had to deal with being treated in a negative way but I feel bad for those who have and it’s not right whatsoever.

      2. Yes Michael I agree completely. Its hard for anyone to deal with such a traumatic event. I think its even worse when the event can cause psychological disorders if the victim isn’t treated properly.

  5. I agree with this law. I never personally seen hospitals mistreat rape victims, but I have seen patients who need serious attention treated unfairly. After seeing that I could never imagine that happening to rape victims. If I did see it happen I would be very unhappy. I think if it is done correctly a lot of rape victims would go through less stress. It would help get them through the situation. I would do anything in my power to help them though the trauma in their life that they will live with for years to come if I was the doctor helping them.

  6. I think this is definitely a step forward in helping people that have been the victim of rape. This takes a lot of the burden that would have been attached to receiving and paying for treatment away. I think it’s terrible that it wasn’t taken as seriously before and the victims were mistreated. If a person says they are hurt i don’t think anyone else should have the right to tell them that they are wrong. Although one person might not be as hurt in such a situation, we have no idea how another would react because everyone perceives things differently. Hopefully this just opens the door for more laws to be passed to benefit those that have been sexually assaulted as well.

    1. Yes it does take a lot of the burden away that would have been attached to receiving and paying treatment. The reason I agree is because I have been in those shoes and I know what it is like and I am happy to say it wasn’t a night mare for me. Another part of your comment I agree on is where you wrote, “Although one person might not be as hurt in such a situation, we have no idea how another would react because everyone perceives things differently.” That is totally 100% true without a doubt. I perceive what I went though then how someone else may perceive because that some else isn’t me and vise versa. Great comment Michael.

  7. Very informative article. I do agree with all your statements as well. I do have a friend who was sexually assaulted by her brother-in-law and came to me for help and I honestly had no clue what to do except comfort her and tell her she is ok. It is true when people say a women can be naked in public but she is not asking to be touched same with a man as well. I think that spreading awareness and informing people will help eliminate the problem possibly. We have to teach everyone that sexual assault is never ok even if its is a man as well. Men can get sexually assaulted as well and should seek help if they are damaged from it. I think everyone can take a lesson from this and take that all you can do is calm the person down and assure them that it is not their fault whatsoever. This was an amazing informative article and I do value the info and I will make sure my friend does know. Very good article.

    1. I Find it unfortunate this happened to your friend, some people need to understand and accept boundaries. When this happens some people can feel abandoned when they don’t have someone there to tell them what happened was not their fault and that it is past, and won’t happen again. Some people were raised in a world that these actions allowed but it is 2016. We need to educate people that these actions are no longer acceptable in our society.

  8. I am appalled to knowing how many rape cases are waiting to be examined and researched. I remember reading an article in the COSMO magazine about raising awareness to how many rape cases are sitting on shelves just waiting to be examined. Many innocent people are waiting for justice for long periods of time. Sometimes they don’t solve anything, due to the lack of evidence. I am very glad that laws have been placed to support rape survivors. In my opinion, it isn’t enough. Too many cases and instances are being ignored, leaving the victims mortified with loss of hope. We can only hope that rape will once come to an end, and the victims should stick together until then. Lots of people seem to heal in some sort of way by connecting with others that have the same problems as them. By sticking together, they can raise even more awareness and get more support from the citizens of this country. In a hope for a better tomorrow, we the people should stick together in any situation that comes in our way.

  9. I first learned about this act in my licensed practical nurse program. The instructors emphasized all the key points you explained: collecting evidence, providing privacy, pregnancy/STD tests, therapeutic communication, follow-up care, etc. There is a lot to consider when caring for a rape victim. All rape victims need the treatment that the SASETA law outlines. I am glad that you discussed this in class. Most people tend to avoid talking about such a subject. It is important to raise awareness.

  10. An issue that stems from this is what happens after the attack. After the attack they may have psychological issues and find it difficult to trust people. When this happens it becomes almost impossible to move on with their life. It can help to see a psych doctor about this, and talk about the experience and slowly get life back on track. Though with this likely comes lost hours and income, that is why I believe these people should get restitution from their attacker to help make up for time off from work.

  11. Many people who have been victimized by rape often feel shameful or are too afraid to seek treatment because of how others respond. I think the SASETA law is important because it allows victims to find a protected area to be treated and to know that healthcare professionals are going to guide them after such trauma. I never quite knew this before, but I really liked the idea of having private rooms to sit and wait in. Before, I didn’t really know what the policies were for rape in hospital patients, and I think this shows that they recognize the psychological impact and they are willing to prioritize every need of rape patients. It is nice to know that these people are supposed to receive immediate care just as any other patient, even though they haven’t always been treated so delicately. Survivors deserve to know that rape is not their fault, and they should not blame themselves for something they cannot control. I agree this law definitely builds awareness and helps to end the rape culture that we currently face in American Society.

  12. When a victim comes into the hospital after their experience they need to be given their own waiting room, it may do the victim more harm if they are in the normal waiting room behind people that are there for only minor things. Another reason why their own waiting room is a good idea is they get an expedited process for treatment. In the waiting room they should have a more comforting atmosphere than just a regular waiting room. Something they could have is a pillow for the victim to hug so they do not feel alone and a couch to sit on, as opposed to just chairs. The idea of this is not to coddle them like some may believe but more to help them gather their thoughts after their experience. Then when they are seen by the doctor they are given options with the direction of a police officer. The hospital lawyer could let them know about legal options and possibly point them towards a place where they can get representation if they seek it.

  13. I agree with this law protecting Sexual Assault Survivors stuff like this should not be ignored. Majority of people who are sexually assaulted don’t speak up because they feel scared or ashamed that no one will help them. Its great this law provides immediate treatment at no cost. Also, I do feel the hardest part for the survivor is the healing process, because after any traumatic situation no person is the same.

  14. Rape is undoubtedly one of the most vile things that a person can experience, and no words of mine will ever be able to comfort those who have had to go through it. I’ve always had a firm stance that rape is something I wouldn’t wish on an enemy, and that it is certainly never something that can be warranted or “asked for,” or in any other way justified. Be it that it is a very personal and sensitive topic, I feel that it tends to be brushed aside by those who have little direct relevance to it, and this simply cannot be permissible to any degree. There needs to be a well structured system and process for handling victims of rape and their care, both physically and mentally, as well as handling the criminality of these acts and making sure that justice is seen through to the fullest extent possible.

  15. I agree with everything that’s being stated in this article. I feel that rape is such a horrendous crime people see rape as women just being raped but unfortunately there’s men/boys that are molested and raped also. Regardless of gender rape should be taken very seriously. We do not want to strip away any privacy or dignity one may have if they are a rape victim. We want to open doors so MORE people can come out the closet and be able to even admit that they were raped. Many people who are raped hide the fact that they were raped due to shame, or guilt and that’s something that needs to be decreased so we can save more lives and futures.

  16. I am very happy with this law. It shows that rape is a serious issue and should be dealt with immediately. A victim of sexual assault is left feeling scared and completely alone after the attack. It’s important for them to know that it is okay to go to the hospital right away. They will be the first priority and it is one step closer for them to heal. Victims need to know that it is not their fault and they will get the justice and closure that they deserve. If they feel safe at the hospital, they are more likely to open up about the attack and not shut out who is trying to help them. No one understands the traumatic experience but the victims themselves, therefore the topic of rape shouldn’t be brushed off to the side. It should be handled the right way for the sake of the victim.

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