Know Your Options

The Sexual Harm Response Project

Know Your Options

In.Power* | The Sexual Harm Response Project

After experiencing sexual violence, sexual assault, or rape, it might be difficult to know what your options are.

Below we have outlined your rights and options in the state of Illinois.

Trust Yourself.

  • Remember that no matter what happened, it’s not your fault. Do whatever you feel is best for you.
  • It’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling, and it’s okay to express that however you want.

Talk To Someone You Trust.

  • You are not alone.
  • Consider reaching out to someone you trust for help.
  • You can call Chicago’s 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline at (888) 293-2080 to speak with someone privately.
  • RAINN’s National Sexual Assault hotline can be reached at (800) 656 -HOPE (4673) or you can chat with someone online at

Request A Free Medical Exam.

  • Hospitals in Illinois must provide you with medical treatment following a sexual assault. That medical treatment should be at no cost to the patient.
  • Hospital exams may include:
    • STI Screening & Treatment
    • Full Body Exam
    • Pregnancy Testing & Emergency Contraception
    • Voucher for Follow-Up Care
  • Howard Brown Advocates can help connect you with a local hospital.
  • If you feel more comfortable at Howard Brown, we can offer you the following FREE services:
    • STI Screening & Treatment
    • Full Body Exam
    • Pregnancy Testing & Emergency Contraception
    • TGNC Affirming Medical Care
  • Unfortunately, Howard Brown cannot offer you a free voucher for follow-up care, but we can connect you to medical providers at Howard Brown, if you wish to start receiving medical care here. As always, our services are sliding scale.

Get a Medical Forensic Exam (Rape Kit).

  • Everyone has the option to request a medical forensic exam (sometimes referred to as a rape kit).
  • Howard Brown does not provide medical forensic exams. You may visit any hospital Emergency Room to receive this service.
  • Advocates at Howard Brown can help connect you with a hospital and medical advocate to accompany you in the process of getting a rape kit.
  • Getting a medical forensic exam does not require you to press charges If you do choose to press charges, it can provide you with additional legal options. Requesting and completing a medical forensic exam does give you the right to make a choice later about reporting (within the three year statute of limitations)
  • If you want a medical forensic exam, it is best to complete one within the first 72 hours after the assault, but you have the right to seek medical treatment at any point.
  • You have 3 years after the assault to press charges.

Make A Report To The Police.

  • We know that going to the police can be terrifying. We know systemic oppression and police brutality make it scary. We are here for you.
  • Advocates at Howard Brown can help connect you with legal advocates who can guide you through the reporting process or help support you if you don’t want to make a report.
    • Making a report now can help you seek protection later.
    • Making a report may assist you in obtaining an “order of protection.
    • Making a report may help you press charges against the person who hurt you.
  • Your safety and comfort are the most important.

Ways to Cope and Heal Following a Sexual Assault

After experiencing sexual violence, your brain and body can go into protective mode. Physically and hormonally your body is reacting to the experience, which can leave you feeling confused, angry, numb, or lost. These reactions are normal and can feel overwhelming. Give yourself the time and the space to work through this experience. Below you’ll find a few different hints that you might find helpful.

How to care for the most important person in your life: YOU!

  • Treat yo’ self: do something nice for yourself & don’t feel guilty about it
  • Connect: talk to someone supportive
  • Keep it cute: drink water, take deep breaths, eat regularly, try to get some sleep
  • Express it: write, journal, make music, drawn
  • Treat yourself like you would your best friend
  • Dance it out: move in whatever way you can and whatever way feels safe
  • Defriend social media: take a break from Facebook, twitter, insta and other social media sites that can be triggering
  • Ask for help: reach out to family, friends, community, therapists, social workers, doctors

How Howard Brown Can Help

For over 40 years, Howard Brown Health has pioneered LGBTQ+ healthcare, and we are proud to offer the first LGBTQ+ specific sexual assault response program in the nation. At Howard Brown, we are committed to creating a safe space for people who have experienced sexual assault to, get medical services, seek support, and engage with other survivors of sexual assault. We will continue providing you with services that are affirming, supportive, inclusive, and respectful of your identities. All of our staff is specially trained to provide emotional support after an assault.

Howard Brown Health provides FREE and CONFIDENTIAL:

STI Screening & Treatment

Linkage to Community Resources

Legal Advocacy

Crisis Intervention

Support Groups

Survivor Empowerment


Short Term Case Management

Bystander Trainings