Health Plus: Help for sexual assault victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Help for sexual assault victims

A reminder from officials: If you are a victim, help is available the minute you walk into the hospital. A reminder from officials: If you are a victim, help is available the minute you walk into the hospital.

It's estimated that one in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

This week, we reported on a case of a Cedar Rapids woman being stabbed and sexually assaulted.

A reminder from officials: If you are a victim, help is available the minute you walk into the hospital.

Each year, hundreds of sexual assault victims walk through emergency room doors in eastern Iowa.

At Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, the Sexual Assault Response Team is ready and waiting to help them.

"I think it's very important for these people to feel like they can come in and talk about what happened and not be judged by what is going on, and that there is somebody here to help them," said Ann Schott, who heads up the team.

In addition to trained hospital workers, staff members from Seeds of Hope are waiting to respond round-the-clock to the needs of a sexual assault victim.

The agency serves clients in Black Hawk, Grundy and Hardin counties.

"I think that high-profile cases like the Penn State case and the Steubenville rape case show how disastrous the consequences can be of mishandling a case and not providing victims with support and care," said Terry Helinski, the agency's executive director.

Along with emotional support and medical attention, patients are encouraged to get a forensic exam that preserves evidence needed for a sexual assault case.

"Lately, in the last two or three years, if the perpetrator finds out or the attorney of the perpetrator finds out that they've been examined by a nurse, they usually try to settle out of court, because our main goal or our main role as nurses is to collect evidence," said Schott.

The key is for victims to speak up and get the help and guidance available from professionals in their communities.

"Anyone who believes that they have been a victim of a sexual assault, any adult survivor of incest, any adult victim, rape victim, male or female, any friends or family, anyone who is concerned that they think somebody might be a victim -- they can call and ask how they might offer support for that person that they love," said Helinski.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, contact Seeds of Hope at (888) 746-4673.

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