Sexual assault happens for a multitude of reasons, but lets be crystal clear: It’s never the victims fault. Sexual assault happens when there is a sexual act which occurs in the absence of consent of one of the parties, even if that person cannot provide consent or agree to participate in sexual acts.
This means that anyone who is under the legal age of consent, intoxicated, in a mentally impaired state, anyone feeling intimidated, coerced or threatened or anyone responding to someone in a position of power, is not able to provide consent or agree to participate in sexual acts.
Seeing as 1 in 3 women is estimated to face intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life, here are four steps that you should take if you find yourself as a victim of sexual assault in Malta:
Go to the Hospital
If you have been a victim of sexual assault, it is imperative that you seek medical care. At the public hospital Doctors and nurses are available to provide a thorough check-up for victims following incidents of sexual assault. The check-up includes testing and follow-up for STDs and pregnancy.
At the hospital you will also find a number of services for victims which are coordinated by Victim Support Malta, in cooperation with the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity. The aim of such services is to provide holistic and victim- centered care.
The team operates on a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week on call basis from Mater Dei Hospital.
If you feel comfortable, go to the Police
Whether or not you go to the Police following an instance of sexual assault, is entirely up to you. No one can tell you what decision to take in this regard, and you should always do what is best for you and you alone. But if you do feel the need to make a report following a sexual assault, the people within the special unit run by Victim Support Malta can help you by assisting throughout the way. Upon your request, delegates from the Police will be dispatched to Mater Dei Hospital so that the victim can submit their account of what happened, there and then.
Having a trusted friend or family member with you during this time could also be beneficial for you.
Get Social Support
Following an Assault, the Care for Victims of Sexual Assault unit will be able to help you get the social support that you need. This is first done through an assessment which determines the type of safety and support which is necessary for you in your specific case. If it is unsafe for you to return to your home, you will be supported in seeking shelter.
Empower yourself with Support
Victims of sexual assault experience high levels of trauma, which may affect their daily lives, sometimes even until well after the incident has occurred. As a victim of sexual assault, you are able to not only access psycho-social services, but you can also benefit from free legal services. This means that should you want it, there is a possibility for you to be represented and supported legally throughout court proceedings. In the event that you do not wish to report the case to the police, you are still entitled to access legal services in order to determine your rights as a victim of sexual assault.
Each case of sexual assault has different needs. This is why every case requires and merits an individual assessment depending on each case’s requirements. Victims are free to access whichever services they wish to utilise whilst refuting the rest.
For information or queries regarding the Care for Victims of Sexual Assault service kindly contact Ms Mifsud on 21228333.
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