Advocacy & Accompaniment: Forensic Exams
Advocacy During Forensic Exams: Sexual Assault
You have a right to a medical forensic exam, regardless of whether you report to law enforcement. You have options for medical care, including treatment for injuries; preventative treatment for STIs, HIV, and pregnancy; and evidence collection. Please see Arizona Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Factsheet by ACESDV for details about medical forensic exams.
From the initial medical examination through on-going care, it’s reassuring to have an advocate by your side. An advocate acts as a liaison with healthcare professionals to ensure survivors’ needs are met and they are treated with dignity and respect. Advocates also assist victims after the emergency room.
Against Abuse, Inc. advocates can:
- Accompany you to and provide advocacy at the hospital
- Provide crisis counseling & intervention and assist with safety planning
- Give you information about your medical concerns and your right to treatment
- Explain the forensic exam process and evidence collection kit (often called a rape kit)
- Provide you with information about your legal rights and options
- Help you communicate with hospital staff and police
- Assist you with immediate needs, such as transportation, shelter, food, clothing, or community resources & referrals
- Connect you to other services, such as counseling
- Assist you in accessing follow-up medical treatment
- Assist you in resolving hospital bills you may have received for emergency treatment
- Accompany you to file a police report and/or meet with law enforcement
- Provide on-going and follow-up services
If you have been assaulted we recommend you go to a hospital as soon as possible so that you can receive medical treatment and have the opportunity to complete an evidence collection kit (often called a rape kit) if you choose. By law, victims of sexual assault in Arizona should not be billed for medical treatment received in a hospital emergency department as a result of sexual violence. However, there may be costs related to medical care provided by emergency department staff, such as lab work, tests, and medications, though this is unlikely to occur at Banner Hospitals in Pinal County. Should you receive a bill for any of the care received during a Sexual Assault Forensic Medical Exam, an advocate is available to help answer questions and assist in working with the hospital to resolve the bill.
Advocacy during Forensic Exams: Domestic Violence and/or Strangulation
If you have experienced strangulation or domestic violence that is physical, you may want to have a certified medical professional conduct a forensic exam to collect evidence and provide immediate medical care. The collection of this evidence may be useful should you choose to press charges against your perpetrator in the future. An advocate is available to accompany you to the exam, provide information, and answer questions you might have. In Pinal County, Banner Hospitals will not charge you for services specific to the forensic exam. Should you be charged for services, an advocate can answer questions and work with you to help resolve the bill.
If you or somebody you know is experiencing sexual violence, domestic violence, sex trafficking, stalking, sexual harassment, dating violence, call us.
Advocates are ready to take your call and provide you with immediate, confidential support. We will listen, offer encouragement, and we will believe you. You may call as often as you like.
Our hotline is available 24/7 and gives immediate telephone informal counseling, assistance, or information to survivors, their friends and families, and community members.
To speak with someone anytime, day or night, call 520.836.0858
Lay Legal Advocacy
Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, and our advocates can assist you with navigating the civil and criminal justice process. Advocates are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, but they can clarify the court process and discuss possible outcomes.
Lay legal advocacy provided by AAI, includes but is not limited to preparing for court, transportation and accompaniment to court or meeting with the prosecutor, assistance filling out court documents such as orders of protection, law enforcement advocacy and accompaniment, assistance obtaining police reports and other records, VAWA self-petitions and immigration assistance, T-Visas, U-Visas, assistance developing victim impact statements, preparation for court processes; restitution, Victim’s Compensation and enforcing Victim’s Rights, civil justice support, assistance with court fees, meals and child care during court days, crisis intervention and case management.
Emotional Support & Safety Services
During the confusing time following a traumatic event, advocates help navigate hospital and legal systems, provide information and emotional support, and take care of immediate needs such as clothing. They explain legal options and survivor’s rights under AZ state law.
Both short-term and long-term safety planning is a primary concern for any survivor of sexual or domestic violence. The most dangerous time for a survivor of domestic violence is when they leave. Since our website is available to anyone with internet access, we will not post suggestions for safety planning here.
If you are interested in making a safety plan or plan on leaving your current situation, please talk with one of our advocates in a confidential setting. Please call 520.836.0858 for more information.
Advocates are available to provide compassionate trauma-informed services. Meeting one-on-one with an advocate may provide a safe place to discuss your situation, express feelings, and explore options. While we provide informal individual counseling, referrals are provided for professional counseling.
Personal Advocacy & Case Management
Includes but not limited to:
- Sexual & domestic violence education
- Support groups
- Providing information & referrals
- Food assistance
- Clothing assistance
- Assistance with social services
- Academic & education advocacy
- Landlord & housing assistance
- Transportation assistance
- Spanish interpreter services
Sexual & Domestic Violence Education
Various forms of educational resources are utilized for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Through the use of support groups, one-on-one informal counseling, and continued discussion on topics such as parenting, child abuse, power & control, types of abuse, sexual violence, consent, self-esteem, etc., our staff strive to provide the knowledge and support necessary to empower those who have experienced violence and abuse.
Education is also provided to law enforcement, the courts, churches, schools, medical professionals, and other service providers in order to build bridges and develop stronger support systems within the community.
You are not alone. There are others that share a common experience. Support groups bring together survivors to help facilitate the recovery and healing process.
Support groups are facilitated by a victim advocate, and survivors in different phases of the healing process provide support to one another with respectful discussion in a comfortable environment.
Our group facilitators will lead discussions on topics related to sexual and domestic violence, life skills development, support systems, and empowerment, to both help survivors heal and to prevent future abuse. Sexual and domestic violence education will be provided on subjects such as characteristics of abusers, safety planning, red flags, and self-awareness.
Information & Referrals
Information is provided on community resources such as transitional housing, employment opportunities, SNAP, TANF, WIC, etc. Community resources can also be found through findhelp.org or 211arizona.org. Assistance may also be provided when applying for benefits.
Transportation is available to clients as needed to achieve goals related to:
- Court / Legal
Animal Safe Home Network
Often, victims do not seek services or leave their perpetrator because they don’t have a safe place for their pet(s). In these circumstances, victims feel they have no options. AAI has an Animal Safe Home Network consisting of a volunteer network of members of the community who are willing to foster the pets of victims during the time period while the victim and their children are in the safety of our shelter. This program will support a variety of costs associated with the fostering of victims’ pets so that victims can leave their perpetrator and achieve safety, healing and begin working toward their new normal. When a victim with a pet or pets needs emergency shelter services to escape their perpetrator, an AAI staff will make arrangements with potential foster placements for their pet(s). As a result of our Animal Safe Home Network, victims will have the option to leave their unsafe environment with their perpetrator and receive the services and supports they need.
Knowing there is a safe place where pets can be temporarily cared for can help ease the transition out of an abusive situation in addition to assisting in the healing process for survivors of crime and trauma.
Through the Animal Safe Home Network, Against Abuse, Inc. has helped place into temporary foster homes pets such as dogs, cats, birds, horses, reptiles, rabbits, and many more.
If you would like to volunteer your home to be a safe foster home for a pet, please apply here: Animal Safe Home Network Application
Residential & Community Services
- Emergency shelter or transitional living program
- Mobile & community support
- Case management
- Crisis intervention
- Safety planning
- Emotional support
- Lay legal advocacy
- Personal advocacy
- Support groups
- Safety & safety planning
- Education about sexual & domestic violence
- Informed decision-making
- Building self-esteem & coping skills
- Personal empowerment
- Budgeting & credit repair
- Healthy relationships
- Healing from trauma
- Support in accessing:
- Community resources
- Public benefits
Get in Touch
Thank you for reaching out to Against Abuse, Inc. If you would like to speak with an advocate please contact our 24-hour helpline at 520-836-0858. We are here to help. If you are experiencing an emergency and require police assistance please contact 911.