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Sexual Assault

Woman phoning police from her car at night after being sexually assaulted.

Working Against Violence, Inc. (WAVI) provides several types of services to assist men and women victims of sexual assault. Continue reading for more information on sexual abuse, as well as what to do after a rape.

Sexual assault is an act of violence. This includes any non-consensual or unwanted sexual touching or sexual act.

It is an expression of anger, power, and aggression. Sexual assault is not about sex, it is about power and control. Sexual assaults include acquaintance or date rape, marital rape, incest, sexual harassment, child molestation, stranger rape, etc.

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Telling anti-women jokes or making demeaning remarks about women
  • Being jealously angry and assuming you would have sex with any available person
  • Insisting you dress in a more sexual way than you want to
  • Minimizing the importance of your feelings about sex
  • Criticizing you sexually
  • Insisting on unwanted or uncomfortable touches
  • Withholding sex and affection as a form of punishment
  • Calling you names like “whore” or “frigid”
  • Forcing you to strip when you do not want to
  • Publicly showing sexual interest in other people
  • Having affairs with other people after agreeing to a monogamous relationship (agreement can be implied)
  • Forcing you to have sex with them or others
  • Forcing particular unwanted sex acts
  • Forcing sex after beatings
  • Forcing sex when you are sick or it is a danger for your health
  • Forcing sex for the purpose of hurting you with objects or weapons
  • Committing sadistic sexual acts
  • Committing sexual acts that result in permanent injury
  • Committing rape with murder

What is Rape?

  • Rape occurs any time a sex-related act is forced on another person.
  • Rape includes any sex act that is imposed on a person who cannot give consent.
  • Rape is any use of force of threat of force.
  • Rape includes attempted and completed.
  • Rape is violent sexual abuse against another person.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted, consider the following actions immediately after an assault or attempted assault:

Maintain evidence
Try to remember and write down as many facts about the attacker as you can. Do not wash, douche, brush your teeth, or change your clothing before the medical examination. Physical evidence should be collected within 48 hours after the assault. Without this evidence, it is more difficult to press charges. If you want the police to conduct an investigation, they will tape a formal interview, contact witnesses, and process evidence for the prosecution. You have the right to a Sexual Assault advocate during every step of the process. 

Contact someone you trust 
It is important to find a supportive person and environment as soon as possible. Remember that nobody asks or deserves to be raped. You are NOT TO BLAME: only the assailant is responsible for the assault. 

Working Against Violence, Inc. (WAVI) has a 24-hr toll free Crisis Line: 888-716-9248 (WAVI). WAVI can provide advocates who will support you, explain your options and accompany you to access services such as police and medical care.

Take care of yourself 
Seek medical help if appropriate. Rapid City Regional Health Emergency Services hosts a Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) to meet the needs of survivors of sexual violence. Emergency room treatment for sexual assault is confidential. Ask questions about risk factors for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

Deciding to Report 
Reporting is your choice. If you are considering reporting the crime to law enforcement, it is important to have a forensic exam done as soon as possible after the assault. Forensic exams are typically done within 72 hours (3 days) of the assault. The likelihood of collecting physical evidence of the assault decreases the longer you wait. The longer you wait to have a forensic exam done; even if it is too late to collect forensic evidence, a medical exam is still advisable. You do not have to decide whether to report the crime to law enforcement for prosecution immediately, although in the state of South Dakota, the costs incurred from rape kits will not be covered by the state if you choose not to press charges.

WAVI provides comprehensive case management support services following a sexual assault, including:

  • Emergency Shelter - WAVI provides emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in a safe facility with trained staff and volunteers. We are an equal opportunity provider and our services are offered at no cost to clients.
  • 24-hour crisis line - Trained advocates are available to provide emotional support, information, and encouragement.
  • Emergency room response - WAVI volunteers and staff respond 24 hours a day to the emergency room for support of victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.
  • Case management - WAVI Case Managers assess client's needs and assist with the personalization a safety plan and an action plan.
  • Legal and court advocacy - WAVI provides assistance with filing temporary protection orders, stalking orders, as well as accompaniment to court proceedings and interviews with law enforcement.
  • Community education - WAVI presents education & prevention programs to community agencies, civic organizations & area schools.
  • Support groups - WAVI holds weekly support groups for survivors of sexual assaults. Meetings are held on Tuesday evenings from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Childcare is provided with advance notice. Please call (605) 341-3292 to speak with a case manager before attending.

Survivors Handbook

For a complete guide on what domestic violence is, how it affects families and communities, and how to get help, read WAVI’s Survivors Handbook.

Reducing Your Risk of Sexual Assault

Click here for information from RAINN about reducing your risk of being sexually assaulted.

The following information is helpful for those trying to help someone they know following a sexual assault.

1. Believe Him or Her. The greatest fear of rape survivors is that they will not be believed. Acquaintance rape survivors also fear that their experience will minimize as "not important." Accept what you are hearing-even if the perpetrator is well liked and even if the victim may seem calm and collected, or other behavior that may seem inappropriate for someone who has just been raped. Every person reacts to trauma in an individual way...all reactions are possible and normal. An attempted rape can be as traumatic as a completed rape. Always treat a survivor of attempted rape with the same care as someone surviving a completed rape.

2. Listen. Find a place to be alone and let them talk. The story may not begin in a rush of words, so be patient. On the other hand, the story might be told in a series of fragmented thoughts in no particular order. Again be patient, refrain from asking intrusive questions, and provide empathetic listening. Do not force them to talk.

3. Provide Comfort. Try to establish a warm, secure atmosphere. If the victim is agitated, help him/her work through the feelings in a soothing-not disapproving-way. He/she might want to be held and comforted while he/she cries or may not want to be touched at all.

4. Reinforce that the rape was not his/her fault. Avoid victim-blaming actions or questions, such as "Why didn't you scream?", "Why were you there?", or "Did you fight?" Victims usually need an opportunity to talk out their feeling of self-blame. Remain objective, helping the victim understand that the rapist (not your friend) caused the rape!

5. Suggest Calling a Rape Crisis Center. A crisis center will provide a trained advocate to guide the survivor (and all secondary victims) through the next critical hours. An advocate can provide factual information that can help the victim determine whether he or she wants to report the crime. The decision to report can be difficult and the Advocate will respect the survivor's choice by coordinating appropriate follow-up services. An Advocate will also be knowledgeable about Rape Trauma Syndrome and informed about any resources that may be helpful.

ALL rape crisis centers are completely confidential. Working Against Violence, Inc. (WAVI) has a specialized unit of sexual assault responders. They can be reached at 341-4808 or toll-free at 1-888-716-9284 (WAVI).Your friend can find a rape crisis center in other communities by looking under "Rape" in the yellow pages of the telephone directory. This is a crucial step to take, even if the survivor has not yet attached the word 'rape' to the experience.

6. Encourage the Preservation of Evidence. The sooner the crime is reported, the better the likelihood of charges being filed and the offender being convicted. (Because so many people do not recognize their experience as rape until days, weeks, months, and even years later, vital evidence is often lost.) During the rape exam at the hospital, specimens will be taken to find traces of blood, hair, saliva, and semen from the rapist. The examination should be done before the victim washes his or her hands, face, and body or brushes his or her teeth.

7. Treat All Medical Needs. Bruises, cuts, or other injuries may need immediate care. Even if a person appears unhurt, medical attention is still recommended. Treatment is available to prevent pregnancy and as a precautionary measure in case the rapist may have had a sexually transmitted disease.

8. Help Your Friend Regain Control & Normalcy. A survivor will need to organize their thoughts and begin making decisions about how to proceed. Rape survivors need to regain the feeling of being in control. Allow him/her to do that. Attempt to separate how you feel about what has happened from what is best for their recovery. If a decision is made not to prosecute and you disagree, support their decision. Encourage your friend to gradually resume as much of their 'normal' schedule as soon as possible. Remind them that they have the same strengths and abilities as they did before the crime.

9. Provide Protection. Depending on the situation, the survivor may feel unsafe or be in immediate danger. Help your friend develop a plan which addresses his or her safety concerns. Remember to include a measure that will allow your friend to feel safe at home and at work.

10. Appropriate Touching. Some survivors may want to be held or hugged and others will prefer that you not touch them at all. Respect those boundaries. Holding a hand and gentle touching can help portray empathy and compassion in appropriate situations. If you are a victim's partner, seek approval to use appropriate touch and language to reestablish feelings of self- worth and demonstrate an unbroken connection. They should decide when sexual activity and intercourse should begin. Do not pressure him/her into sexual activity prematurely to 'prove' everything is 'normal'. Rape Crisis Centers will have more information specifically written for significant others.

11. Community Resources. Immediately after a rape, survivors may not be able to seek out resources. Psychological and legal assistance can be very helpful. Help do that legwork (follow-through with an advocate from a rape crisis center can be a big help). Offer to baby-sit, or provide transportation so a survivor can meet with lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and counselors.

12. Be Available. Offer companionship in the weeks and months following a rape. Reassure your friend that he/she can turn to you whenever they need to talk and then give them the time and attention needed, when they do call.

13. Learn more about Rape Trauma Syndrome. Your friend's restructuring period will last a long time, during which their moods and reactions may change radically from one day to the next. Understanding Rape Trauma Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress will be helpful.

14. Get Support for Yourself. You may need to talk with someone else regarding your own feelings and responses to the assault and its aftermath. A rape crisis center could be of some assistance or could provide a referral in your community. 

WAVI is here to help survivors of sexual assault find solutions to empower them to make healthy choices. Click below for more about how WAVI can help you or someone you know.

WAVI Services and Resources

What do the colors purple and teal stand for?

You may notice the colors purple and teal are used throughout our website, as well as on other WAVI materials. In addition to being beautiful colors, they also hold a significant meaning.

Teal represents sexual assault and sexual violence awareness and support.
Purple represents domestic violence awareness.

Please stand with us in spreading awareness for both of these important causes!


Myth: A person cannot be sexually assaulted by their spouse or significant other.

Fact: 1 in 10 women have experienced rape by an intimate partner in their lifetime.