Rape & Sexual Assault

If you or someone you know has become a victim of sexual violence, Crisis Services’ Rape & Sexual Assault Programs are here to help.

What Is Rape and Sexual Assault?

If you were raped or sexually assaulted, we can help. Experiencing interpersonal violence can be a challenging, isolating, and/or confusing time. You are not alone. We can help you with your questions.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline 716-834-3131

Timing Is Critical

It’s important to know that there are critical timeframes for sexual assault for care. Options available for rape victims, but they are time sensitive. A Forensic Evidence Collection Kit can be completed by a trained Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner.

From the time the rape occurs, victims have the following time frames of help available to them:

Within 36 Hours

HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) – Medication to reduce one’s risk of contracting HIV.

Within 90 Hours

  • Forensic Evidence Collection Kit – Helpful for prosecution of criminal case.
  • Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Kit – Forensic evidence collection if a victim believes they were drugged and sexually assaulted.

Within 120 Hours

Emergency Contraception – Prevents pregnancy resulting from rape.

Types of Sexual Assault

Child Sexual Abuse

Any contact or non-contact sexual act with a child.

Explicit Consent

A voluntary, verbal, positive affirmation; an agreement between equal and unimpaired partners without coercion.

Incest

Unwanted sexual approaches or sexual relations occurring between members of a family, extended family, or household.

Rape

Forced sexual intercourse without consent. Force can be physical: stated or implied threats that cause fear of immediate death or physical injury to self or others: or immediate fear of being kidnapped. It is a violent crime motivated by power and control not sexual gratification.

Sexual Abuse

Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, including unwanted touching and coerced activities.

Sexual Assault

Any sexual act committed against a person without that person’s consent.

Sexual Harassment

Any unwanted sexual behavior, either physical or verbal, which embarrasses, humiliates, or intimidates an individual.

Sexual Violence

Any sexual activity where consent is not obtained or given freely.

How Our Advocate Department Helps

The Advocate Department offers short or long term, trauma-informed Case Management services to survivors of rape/sexual assault, domestic violence, family violence, and elder abuse, throughout Erie County. We work with survivors 12 years of age and older to address immediate needs related to their experience of interpersonal violence, and offer support to family members and loved ones as appropriate.

Our Case Managers are certified Rape Crisis Counselors and Domestic Violence Advocates.  Case Managers collaborate with survivors to provide support, resources, and guidance in decision-making, working to ensure that safety is paramount. Our team uses a trauma-informed approach and believes that each survivor is the expert of their own life.

Who to Call and Where to Go

Call our 24-Hour Crisis Hotline anytime to talk with a trained Hotline Counselor to learn more about your options.

You can also go to any hospital’s emergency department in Erie County to receive care after an assault. Click here to see our list of hospital partners.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline 716-834-3131

With You Every Step

Trained Hospital Advocates are available to assist you in the moment and will come to the hospital to see you. During this visit, your Advocate can help you plan for your safety, and talk with you more about services available to you, including Case Management, Therapy, Emergency Shelter, Orders of Protection, how to file a police report, and/or legal options available.

If you do not go to the emergency room, you can learn more about our support services by calling our 24-Hour Hotline at 716-834-3131.

24-Hour Crisis Hotline 716-834-3131

SAFE Program

Crisis Services’ Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program partners with local hospitals to provide on-site forensic services to people, 12 years of age and older, who have been sexually assaulted within the last 96 hours and are seeking help. Our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) work closely with Hospital Advocates.

Who is the SAFE Team?

Our team has been in existence since 2003. Given this expertise, hospital ED teams know with confidence that our exam and evidence collection process will be taken care of thoroughly, efficiently, and according to local, state, and national mandates and standards of practice. SANEs are licensed RNs, NPs, PAs or MDs with at least one year of clinical experience. All have received specialized training and demonstrated clinical competency in providing comprehensive care to sexual assault patients. Beyond medical care, have specialized knowledge of the legal system, neurobiology of trauma, and skills in identification of injury.

Crisis Services' SAFE team is available 24/7, and provides one-on-one attention for as long as it takes to:

  • Review forensic options.
  • Obtain consents.
  • Conduct medical-forensic interview and exam.
  • Identify and document injuries.
  • Collect and preserve evidence.
  • Evaluate risk and offer preventive treatment for pregnancy.
  • Evaluate risk and offer preventive treatment for STDs (including HIV and Hepatitis B).
  • Create a discharge and aftercare plan.
  • All while consulting with the hospital’s emergency department team on the provision of medical treatment, medication orders, and readiness for discharge.

Evidence collection can sometimes include a toxicology test to screen for drugs or alcohol that may have been used in the assault. You do not need to make a police report to have evidence collected.

If you are interested in evidence collection, try not to eat, drink, bathe or shower, brush your teeth, or change your clothes. Even if you already have done these things, it may still be possible to collect evidence.

For more information about the SAFE Program or how to become part of the SAFE team, contact Holly Franz, RN, NYSAFE, SAFE Program Manager: 716-834-4456, hfranz@crisisservices.org

Hospital Partners

Our Advocates provide in-person hospital response at the following hospitals:

  • Buffalo General Medical Campus
  • DeGraff Memorial Hospital
  • Kenmore Mercy Hospital
  • Mercy Ambulatory Care Center
  • Mercy Hospital
  • Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital
  • Mount St. Mary’s Hospital
  • Sisters of Charity Hospital

Advocate Services

Case Management

You can call 716-834-3131 to request Case Management services. 

  • Provide confidential, non-judgmental support via phone or in person. Contact can be a few times or more depending on what services a survivor needs and is eligible for. 
  • Collaborate with you to create and regularly update a customized, fluid safety plan to ensure your improved safety even when your circumstances may change.
  • Educate you on your Survivor’s Rights.
  • Explain options regarding filing a police report, pressing charges, orders of protection, securing an attorney, or other legal needs.
  • Connect you with the appropriate community resources which can provide emergency shelter and housing, public assistance, increased food security, counseling, and more all geared toward fostering independence, increased stability, empowerment, and resilience in survivors.
  • Accompany you to pre-determined appointments, including, but not limited to: police statements, attorney meetings, and family and criminal court proceedings. 
  • Collaborate with other agencies or health care providers on your behalf, with your consent, to ensure you have the best support and services available to you.
  • Help you process feelings and emotions related to your experience.
  • Help complete paperwork to access services such as victim financial compensation through NYS Office of Victim Services or housing applications.

The Advocate Department has case managers on-site at Crisis Services, the Town of Tonawanda Police Department, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Buffalo Police Headquarters Special Victims Unit, SUNY University at Buffalo, and SUNY Erie Community College. Case Management services are available Monday through Friday. For emergency and after-hour needs, our 24-Hour hotline is available at 716-834-3131.

Therapy

Individual counseling is offered for current or past survivors of:

  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Incest
  • Elder Abuse
  • Confidential counseling is FREE of charge and available to the survivors and/or family members who feel affected by the experience, otherwise known as secondary survivors.

Therapy Services consist of non-clinical, non-diagnostic supportive counseling, and provide a safe space for you to process the traumatic incident and develop coping skills and other ways to manage the impact the trauma of sexual assault or elder abuse on your life. The counselor’s responsibility is to actively listen to and support you. Counseling is available for short or long term needs and can help you explore your options, normalize your feelings, regain control over your life, and aid in your healing process. After an initial discussion about services, the therapist will schedule an intake with you to clarify expectations about therapy and help determine if our program is the best fit for you.

Sexual Violence Prevention

Crisis Services (Erie County), along with the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier (Niagara County) and RESTORE Sexual Assault Services of Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York (Monroe County) were awarded a Regional Sexual Violence Prevention Center grant from the New York State Department of Health. As the lead agency, Crisis Services works collaboratively with its partner agencies in the tri-county area, employing a public health approach to address and prevent sexual violence in our communities.

The Advocate Department believes that sexual and domestic violence prevention is possible and that we all have a role to play in making our community a safer and healthier place. Preventing violence before it occurs requires us to examine and address the underlying causes and social determinants behind these problematic behaviors. 

Our Prevention Team uses a public health approach to comprehensively address the risk factors for, and promote protective factors against, domestic, family, and sexual violence. This includes implementing multiple strategies, including prevention education, community coalition building, policy reviews, and enhancing awareness and response mechanisms. The Prevention Team develops and implements prevention projects designed to create sustainable cultural and behavioral changes in schools, on campuses, within nightlife communities, and among high-risk/vulnerable populations, including youth aged 10-24 and their influential adults.

Our Prevention Education Specialists provide education and information on a wide variety of topics, ranging from basic introductory content to advanced skill-building sessions. We believe in providing accessible and meaningful content, which is why all of our presentations are tailored for age appropriateness, community needs, and desired learning outcomes. 

Specific focal areas include the following:

  • Youth Programming
  • Campus and Community Education
  • Advanced Training
  • Policy Review and Consultation
  • Social Norms Campaigns
  • Sexual Violence Prevention

Rape Crisis Advisory Committee

Crisis Services Advocate Department founded the Rape Crisis Advisory Committee in May 2002. This long-standing collaborative committee consists of various community stakeholders whose mission is to develop a coordinated response to and prevention of rape and sexual assault in Erie County.

Sexual Assault Victims Bill Of Rights

To make sure survivors are aware of the care and treatment available to help in their recovery, New York State has outlined a Sexual Assault Victim Bill of Rights. It includes the right to:

  • Consult with a rape crisis or victim assistance organization.
  • Appropriate health care services at no cost.
  • Receive updates on their sexual offense evidence kit and the status of their case.

What is PREA?

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) passed in 2003 with updated PREA regulations in 2012, with the purpose of preventing, detecting, and responding to prison rape. (Prison Rape Elimination Act, 2003, DOJ National Standards PREA 2012)

In January 2019, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence created the New York State Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Rape Crisis Hotline, a free and confidential service for incarcerated survivors of sexual abuse within the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) prison facilities.

Incarcerated survivors face isolation and limited resources. The PREA Hotline provides emotional support, safety planning, and with the caller’s consent, a referral to a specialized network of Rape Crisis Programs that are available to assist incarcerated survivors.

How We Help Incarcerated Survivors

Services for Incarcerated Survivors include the following:

  • Access to a specialized PREA Case Manager who works with incarcerated survivors providing advocacy services, information, referrals, and support through legal mail and legal phone calls.
  • Hospital Advocate  accompaniment and SAFE Program Services when a prisoner presents at an Erie County Emergency Department for evidence collection.

We collaborate with the Erie County Holding Center, the Erie County Correctional Facility, and serve as the designated Rape Crisis Program for Wende and Collins Correctional Facilities, which are part of the NYS DOCCS system and collaborate with the New York State PREA Rape Crisis Hotline 777.

Prison cell with a person inside.

How to Link with Services

Survivors in a NYSDOCCS facility can link with a case manager by calling the PREA statewide hotline by dialing 777. A hotline counselor will answer the call and place a referral to their local Rape Crisis Center.

Survivors can also directly reach out by writing to Crisis Services (Crisis Services, 100 River Rock Drive, Suite 300, Buffalo, NY 14214) and asking to be linked with a case manager. The case manager will then respond by writing back through legal mail or by setting up a legal call.

If you have a loved one who is incarcerated and have questions about these services, please call our 24-Hour Hotline at 716-834-3131 to speak with a hotline counselor about our PREA services.

Do you have the skills, experience, and compassion to be a Crisis Services First Responder or volunteer?

There are opportunities to help at Crisis Services.