Gulf Coast Center For

image of lady holding up her hand in a stop gesture

Sexual Assault Program

Victims of sexual assault can be male or female, adults or children. While many victims question or blame themselves for their assault, it is never the victim's fault. Responsibility for sexual assault lies with the attacker alone.

Survivors of an assault may seek immediate medical and/or legal assistance after their attack, or may keep silent and try to pretend it never happened, only finding later in life that they need help. Our Center is here to assist them in either case. We offer confidential, non-judgmental, emotional support to victims of rape, whether it happened ten minutes or ten years ago.

All victim services are free of charge and completely confidential.

  • 24-hour Emergency Response/Advocacy
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Training
  • Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART)
  • Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Free Civil Legal Services
  • Court Advocacy & Accompaniment
  • Information/Referral
Read More About Our Services

Only YES Means Yes

Sexual activity with another person without their consent is a crime.

You cannot assume that because a person doesn't say the word "no" that they've consented to have sex. There are many ways a person can communicate that they don't consent - stalling, turning away, looking afraid, crying, resisting. A person who consents to sex is one who is a willing paricipant who is aware of what he/she is doing.

People who are underage, unconscious, asleep, mentally incapacitated or intoxicated are not aware and able to give consent. Having sex with someone who is unable to give consent is a criminal offense.

After You've Been Raped

  • Do nothing that will change your appearance or the appearance of the place of the rape. Do not take a bath or shower or douche. Don't even wash your hands.
  • Get medical attention immediately to check for venereal disease, internal injuries, the possibility of pregnancy, and to gather evidence. Take a change of clothes with you to the hospital.
  • An advocate from our agency can stay with you throughout the examination and provide follow-up support for you.
  • Report the crime to the police. Reporting the crime does not mean that you must press charges, but it does allow the police to keep accurate records for future reference and will provide the necessary evidence and information needed if you later decide to press charges.
  • As soon as possible, write as much as you can remember about your attack and the circumstances.

What is rape?

Rape forces sexual relations against a person's will. It is an act of aggression, power and control, violence, or coercion. It is not a sudden sexual passion. Rape is sex without consent. A person cannot give consent if they are underage or intoxicated, sleeping, drugged, mentally disabled or incapacitated.

Who is the rapist?

The rapist may be an acquaintance, neighbor, friend, relative, or stranger. In fact, the rapist might be someone with whom you have a date. He is usually of the same race as the victim and does not necessarily look peculiar or act strangely.

Why does he rape?

Rapists want to control, hurt, and degrade their victims.

Who is the victim?

Anyone can be a victim - children (girls and boys), mothers, wives, grandmothers, students, men, and women; but most reported rape victims are females.

How is the rape victim chosen?

The victim is chosen according to her availability and vulnerability, not her dress or "sex appeal." The rapist looks for someone who is alone and appears unaware of her or his surroundings. The rapist will target a victim, watch her, wait for her to be vulnerable, then attack.

Our Mission: To support and serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and family members of homicide victims, educate the community, and work to reduce incidences of violence.

photo of woman looking sad

If You Are Attacked, Remember

  • No matter the circumstances, the attack is not your fault. The rapist, not you, is responsible for the attack. You are the victim of a violent crime. No one deserves to be raped.
  • There is no "right thing" to do if attacked. However you survive it is the "right way."
  • Keep your head. Stay as calm as possible and evaluate your options and resources.
  • Trust your instincts.
  • It may be safer to submit than to resist and risk severe injury or death. You will have to make this decision based on the circumstances.
  • Keep assessing the situation as it is happening. If one strategy doesn't work, try another. Possible options include negotiating, stalling for time, distracting the assailant and fleeing to a safe place, verbal assertiveness, screaming, and physical resistance.
  • You may be able to repel the attacker with unusual behavior such as throwing up, acting crazy, or stating that you have a sexually transmitted disease.

Sexual Assault Prevention

Rape does not happen because of the way a victim is dressed, or their personal appearance. When an assault occurs, it is the fault of the rapist alone - not because of anything the victim did or didn't do. There are, however, some things that you can do to reduce your risk of becoming a victim:

Secure your home. Change the locks when moving into a new home; install and use a peephole; consider installing an alarm system; keep house and car keys on separate rings if you ever valet-park your car; keep some rooms lit at night, and make sure your doorways and driveway are lit; keep draperies drawn when you're sleeping or alone at night; don't enter your home if you return home to find a door or window open.

Use caution with visitors & deliverymen. Never let a child answer the door for someone you don't know; ask for identification; make repairmen wait outside until you've checked their ID and feel safe; keep the door chained until you have identified the visitor; ask for packages to be left outside and pick them up after the deliveryman has left; when alone, before answering the door, call out "I'll get it, Bill!" or something similar, to give the impression that a male is in the house.

Use phone safety. Never give out personal information over the phone, or tell someone you don't know that you're home alone; if a call becomes obscene, hang up immediately; if obsceme calls persist, blow a whistle loudly into the phone; advise the caller that you're recording the call; report threatening or persistent obscene calls to the police and/or phone company.

Drive safely. Keep doors locked and windows up when alone in a car; use well-traveled and well-lit routes at night, rather than deserted roads; don't let your car run out of gas; if you're being followed, pull into a police station, public place, or house with lights; always check your car before getting in, to see if someone is hiding in the back seat; don't approach your car if a man or group is loitering around it; if your car breaks down, lock doors and call the police - do not accept rides; don't stop for a stranded motorist, which could be a trap - instead, call for help on your phone; exercise extreme caution walking alone in parking garages, and alert an attendant if you see anything suspicious.

Practice street smarts. If being followed while walking, cross the street, walk in another direction, or ask other people if you may walk a short way with them; walk near the curb and away from alleys and shrubbery; when walking to your car or home, carry your keys in your hand, not your purse, so you have them ready and don't have to stand outside and find them; be aware of your surroundings; be aware that walking with your arms overloaded with packages can make you vulnerable to attack; dress so that movement isn't constricted and you can run if necessary; don't give friendly responses to men who harass or attempt to strike up an unwanted conversation on the street - walk away briskly; vary your route so that a rapist can't study your habits and routines; keep your back to a wall when waiting for buses or trains, so you can't be approached from behind.