24-Hour Hotline: 210-349-7273

FAQ

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted—even if you are not sure—contact our hotline at 210-349-7273 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE for free, confidential help day or night.

Each state has and uses different definitions for “rape,” “sexual assault,” “sexual abuse,” and other similar terms. In Texas, sexual assault and rape are legally the same thing, though in law you will hear it referred to as sexual assault.

Trigger Warning: Please note that the following definitions and explanations include graphic descriptions of sexual violence.

Sexual assault is any penetration – be it oral, anal, or vaginal – with a sex organ or any object, by one person, against another without consent.

Specifically The Texas Penal Code states:

Sec. 22.011. SEXUAL ASSAULT. (a) A person commits an offense if the person: intentionally or knowingly:
(A) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
(B) causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or
(C) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor

If you are not in Texas, please check the law in your state for a precise legal definition. Because laws are different in every state, it is important to find out the law in your state. You can call us at 210-349-7273 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE to find out more about the laws in your state.
There are a few questions to consider about consent.

Consent is a crucial element in judging whether or not a crime occurred. Consent can be taken away at any point, before or during any sexual act, and consenting to one sexual act does not cover as consent for others.

Are the participants old enough to consent?

Each state sets an “age of consent,” which is the minimum age someone must be to have sex. In Texas, the age of consent is 17 years of age. People below this age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no.

In most states, the age of consent is 16 or 18. In some states, the age of consent varies according to the age difference between the participants. Generally, “I thought she was 18” is not considered a legal excuse — it’s up to you to make sure your partner is old enough to legally take part.

Do both people have the capacity to consent?

States also define who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex. In Texas, one cannot consent to sex if they are:

  • Under the age of 17
  • Under use or threat of physical violence or death
  • Unconscious, unaware, or mentally incapacitated
  • Under the influence of drugs

  • Did both participants agree to take part?

    Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape.

    The absence of a “no” is not the presence of a “yes.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state.
    Consent must be…

    Fully informed. To be fully informed, consent must be based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts at the time consent is given.

    Non-coercive. Cajoling, threatening, or otherwise trying to “convince” someone to engage in a sexual act with you is breaking consent. This means that asking 16 times, getting 15 No’s and 1 Yes, is still not adequately obtaining consent.

    Not fixed. After asking once for consent does NOT mean that you now have consent forever. It should be continuously negotiated, even (and especially) when you are in a committed relationship.

    Dynamic. Related to the above note, consent for one act does not necessitate consent for all acts. It should be re-addressed constantly for different acts.

    Conscious. Anyone who is inebriated, asleep, passed out or otherwise not fully coherent cannot consent, legally or otherwise.

    Unambiguous/Explicit. Many phrases that indicate doubt, such as “Maybe,” “I’m not sure,” “Not yet,” “Kinda,” “Wait a minute,” are not consent. One can assume they mean “no.”

    Not contingent upon sexual interest nor sexual arousal. Neither your interest NOR the expressed/implied interest of any potential partners is an invitation to any act. Also, neither your arousal nor the (assumed) arousal of anyone you might want to have sex with is an invitation.

    Not compensatory. Despite some assumptions, a nice dinner and a movie are not an invitation to have sex.

    Not something that requires a qualifier. No one needs to explain why they are not granting you consent. No is enough.
    People respond to an assault in different ways. Just because you didn't resist physically doesn't mean it wasn't rape — in fact, many victims make the good judgment that physical resistance would cause the attacker to become more violent. Lack of consent can be expressed (saying “no”) or it can be implied from the circumstances (for example, if you were under the statutory age of consent, or if you had a mental defect, or if you were afraid to object because the perpetrator threatened you with serious physical injury).
    Rape can occur when the offender and the victim have a pre-existing relationship (sometimes called “date rape” or “acquaintance rape”), or even when the offender is the victim’s spouse. It does not matter whether the other person is an ex-boyfriend or a complete stranger, and it doesn't matter if you've had sex in the past. If it is nonconsensual this time, it is rape.
    Rape can happen when the victim was unconscious or asleep. If you were asleep or unconscious, then you didn’t give consent. And if you didn’t give consent, then it is rape.
    Alcohol and drugs are not an excuse—or an alibi. The key question is still whether or not you consented. Regardless of whether you were drunk or sober, if the sex is nonconsensual it is rape. However, because each state has different definitions of “nonconsensual,” please contact your local center or local police if you have questions about this. (If you were so drunk or drugged that you passed out and were unable to consent, it was rape. Both people must be conscious and willing participants.)
    It depends on the circumstances. If you didn't say no because you were legitimately scared for your life or safety, then it may be rape. Sometimes it isn't safe to resist, physically, or verbally: for example, when someone has a knife or gun to your head, or threatens you or your family if you say anything.
    If the assault append less than 96 hours ago, there is still a chance to collect DNA evidence. Call the police where the assault occurred. The police will escort you to the nearest hospital with a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program or other appropriate facility if major trauma is involved.

    If the assault happened over 96 hours ago, the window for a forensic exam may have passed, but medical attention may still be an important step if you are experiencing bleeding, physical discomfort or any other abnormal symptoms.

    Although they cannot collect forensic evidence, you can still file a police case if you so desire.

    Important numbers:

  • San Antonio Police Dept.: 210-207-7273
  • Bexar County Sheriff’s Dept.: 210-335-6000
  • For individuals over the age of 18 who arrive in the 96 hour window, please note that there is a Non-Report option. This option does not involve the police in any way. Victims who choose this options are able to complete the medical exam and the forensic evidence exam with a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The evidence potentially collected in the forensic evidence exam will be stored for 2 years, in case the victim decides to make a corresponding police report.

    For minors (anyone younger than 18) who have been sexually assaulted, the incident MUST be reported to law enforcement under Texas’ mandatory reporting laws. If you are a survivor who is under 18, over 60, or disabled, it is important to understand the hospital’s mandated reporting requirements. Please call the hotline (210) 349-7273 to find out more.

    San Antonio Hospitals with Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Programs

    For Adults & Adolescents who have gone through puberty:

    Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital
    Phone: 210 575 8168 (ER)
    8026 Floyd Curl, San Antonio, Texas, 78229

    For children and adolescents under the age of 17.

    The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
    Phone: 210 704 2190 (ER)
    333 N. Santa Rosa, San Antonio, Texas, 78207
    For individuals over the age of 18, who arrive in the 96 hour window, the police can be involved at your request, but please note that there is a Non-Report option. This option does not involve the police in any way; they will not be notified. Victims who choose this option are able to complete the medical exam and the forensic evidence exam with a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The potential evidence collected in the forensic evidence exam will be stored for 2 years, in case the victim decides to make a corresponding police report.

    For minors (anyone younger than 18) who have been sexually assaulted, the incident MUST be reported to law enforcement under Texas’ mandatory reporting laws.

    If you are a survivor who is under 18, over 60, or disabled, it is important to understand the hospital’s mandated reporting requirements. Please call the hotline (210) 349-7273 to find out more.
    First, emergency room staff may ask you a few questions about why you are visiting the ER to determine what kind of injuries you may have and whether you want a forensic exam performed. Any physical injuries will be treated in the ER before a forensic exam is started. Sexual assault survivors enter through the emergency room but have a separate waiting area and exam room. A survivor may bring a friend or family to the hospital for support.

    A forensic exam (sometimes referred to as a “rape kit” or “rape exam”) is a careful procedure performed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE nurse) that has the potential to collect DNA and other evidence in a way that may be used in court if you choose to prosecute.

    If you decide to have a forensic exam (and it’s completely up to you), the SANE nurse or other medical professional will be called to perform the exam. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners are specifically trained to collect evidence, check for injuries, and deal with the possibility of pregnancy and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. A Rape Crisis Center Advocate will also be present to offer emotional support and discuss resources. Remember, you have the right to refuse any medical treatment, including the forensic exam, when you go to the hospital.

    Also keep in mind that, if the assault occurred weeks or months before, medical attention is still important. We encourage you to see your general practitioner or other medical professional for a wellness check, pregnancy tests, testing for sexually transmitted infections and HIV, or anything else you may need.
    Seeing someone you care about in pain is difficult. After a sexual assault or sexual abuse, there are some important things you can do to help a survivor:

    You can listen. Listening is one of the most important ways you can support a survivor of sexual assault. Not all survivors will want to talk about it right away; some will, and some will need more time. Try to resist the urge to ask questions, and let the person you care about know that you will be ready when he/she is.

    You can believe. Survivors of sexual assault often worry that they will not be believed. If someone wants to talk with you about something as personal as sexual assault, it means that person trusts you. Try not to ask questions that sound like you don’t believe the story. In fact, tell the survivor directly, “I believe you.” When a survivor feels believed, you have helped begin his/her healing.

    You can let them make choices. Assault takes away a person’s feelings of power and control. Respecting a survivor’s choices helps that person get those feelings back. Making decisions is an important way to feel powerful. You can help the survivor get information and understand options, but a survivor needs to make his/her own decisions. You can empower the person you care about by supporting his/her decisions, even if you may not agree with them.

    You can get informed. Learn more about survivors’ common reactions to an assault. There are no “normal” reactions. If you know more, you can better understand and support the survivor.

    You can take care of yourself. You are an important person in the survivor’s life if that person chooses to tell you about his/her assault. Take care of yourself and your feelings so that you will be better able to help them. All services at The Rape Crisis Center are free, confidential, and available to you.

    These suggestions are adapted from those provided by The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.

    The Rape Crisis Center is here to help you. Our hotlines and counseling services are open to friends and family, and we can assist you with how to best support your loved ones.

    Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do.
    A: Survivors of sexual violence may experience different reactions and emotional changes after an assault, some of which can be very intrusive and disruptive. It is very important to understand that there is no right or wrong way for survivors to respond to sexual violence. These responses include, but are not limited to:

  • Guilt or self-blame

  • No one deserves to be raped and it is never your fault – even if you were drinking, wearing sexy clothes, or if you agreed to some sexual activity, like kissing.

  • Fear
  • Loss of control
  • Avoidance

  • You may want to avoid anything that reminds you of the assault. Don’t let avoidance prevent you from getting help.

  • Re-experiencing (flashbacks)

  • Nightmares, flashbacks, or constantly thinking about what happened can disturb your concentration, your sleep, even your appetite.

  • Mood swings

  • Feelings from a sexual assault can be intense and overwhelming. Most survivors experience a lot of ups and downs in their healing process.

  • Depression
  • Numbness

  • No feeling at all is a feeling that helps many survivors cope with the crisis of a rape.

  • Anxiety
  • Anger

  • You might feel angry – at the person who hurt you, the world, yourself, and even people you love. Anger can be an important part of healing.

    Any one might experience all or none of the reactions mentioned above. Remember that a lack of visible reactions or physical injuries does not reflect the level of trauma a survivor may be experiencing.

    To speak to someone about any of these reactions, or about how you can help your loved one, we have trained hotline operators waiting to talk to you 24 hours a day, every day: 210-349-7273 or 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE). They are also available to help online.
    Sexual assault can change your feelings about yourself and those around you. You may not feel the way you did before the assault—physically, emotionally, socially, or sexually. Counseling can help you work through the normal traumatic responses following an assault and can be an important part in a person’s healing process.

    The Rape Crisis Center counselors are trained to work with survivors of sexual violence. They provide a safe and compassionate environment where a survivor and their loved ones can find unique ways to heal from the assault.