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Advocacy

Medical & Legal

Advocating with other systems can be a challenging process, since most institutions have objectives which go beyond solely supporting the victim. At Growing Strong, supporting victims is our focus. Our advocates provide information and emotional support for survivors while acting as a liaison between the survivor and the police, hospital staff, and the states attorney throughout the court or hospital process. If a survivor presents at the hospital an advocate will always arrive in a timely manner and discuss survivors’ rights, medical procedures and options, and discuss an evidence collection kit. An advocate can also explain the criminal justice process, sexual assault laws and assist the survivor in filing for crime victim’s compensation or protective order.

(Out of respect for confidentiality, the advocate is not present during the police officer interview, if there is one)

SASETA: Sexual Assault Emergency Treatment Act

SASETA is an Illinois state law which mandates that patients receiving services in the Emergency Department for sexual victimization should never receive a bill for any hospital charges, medication, emergency ambulance transportation or follow-up exam to check for STD’s, pregnancy, or other complications as a result of the assault. SASETA also states the survivor is the only one who can decide if they want an evidence collection kit to be done or released to be analyzed.

Laws Regarding Evidence Collection

The process used to collect evidence of sexual assault is called gathering an “evidence collection kit.” Although gathering this evidence can feel uncomfortable, especially because the victim has already been through so much, it can be a good idea to have this evidence collected, as it keeps the victim’s options open regarding their legal path.

  • A sexual assault survivor only has seven days after the crime to have an evidence collection kit completed. After the seventh day evidence will no longer be available to collect and preserve. The earlier a survivor completes a kit, the better the likelihood of obtaining strong evidence.
  • the sexual assault survivor is the only person who can authorize evidence collection via the evidence collection kit. If the victim does not want evidence collected, nobody can force them to have it done.
  • If the survivor is 13 years of age or older, they are the only person who can sign for the release of the kit to be analyzed.
  • If a survivor does not want to report to the police, they can still complete an evidence collection kit. The kit can be held for up to 10 years, preserving evidence, just in case the survivor changes their mind on reporting to the police.
  • Although there are 10 different collections to complete a full evidence collection kit, the survivor gets to choose which, if any, parts of the collection they would like to complete.
  • The evidence collection kit does not have to be completed in order for a survivor to have a medical exam done or be seen in the emergency room.

After a police report has been made, the legal advocate provides information and emotional support for victims with the police and the state’s attorney. Throughout the court process, the legal advocate is the liaison between the victim and the legal system. Legal Advocates:

  • explain the criminal justice process, sexual assault laws and victim’s rights statutes
  • assist the victim in filing for crime victims’ compensation
  • ensure that the victim is treated in a fair and respectful manner by criminal justice personnel
  • keep the victim informed about key dates and stages in the criminal justice processing of the case

Protective orders

An Order of Protection is a court order which prohibits continuing threats or abuse by restricting an offender and is only available to family or household members. A Civil No Contact Order (CNCO) is a type of protective court order that requires a sex offender to stay away from the person they sexually assaulted or sexually abused. A Stalking No Contact Order (SNCO) is  a stay away order for victims who have been caused emotional distress due to 2 or more acts of stalking. A SNCO and CNCO are options for those who did not have a relationship with their offender and need protection. Any person, regardless of age, who do not have a relationship with their offender can file for a SNCO or CNCO. To file a protective order you may go to the circuit clerk’s office or website to obtain and file the forms or one of our advocates at Growing Strong can help you. For more information on protective orders please contact our office.