Legal Advocacy

Legal Advocacy

The YWCA of Silicon Valley Support Services Department provides its clients with trained sexual assault counselors to act as an advocate and support person while survivors of sexual assault go through a variety of settings, including medical exams, police interviews, and the courtroom. Anyone who seeks medical care related to a sexual assault, reports an assault to law enforcement, or has to go to court is entitled to an advocate from the YWCA of Silicon Valley Support Services Department. It can be helpful and comforting to have someone with you who has expertise in supporting survivors of rape, sexual assault or abuse.

Advocates are available to survivors to provide emotional support and answer questions. If a survivor decides to have a medical exam following a sexual assault, advocates can meet her or him at the hospital and stay throughout the procedure. Advocates will meet with survivors at any law enforcement agency. They also maintain contact with police investigators and district attorneys to help track cases as they make their way through the judiciary process.

Crisis services are available from trained sexual assault counselors in English and Spanish.

Sexual Assault is ANY unwanted sexual act a person is forced to perform or receive.

This includes, but is not limited to, rape. There are three main considerations in judging whether or not a sexual act is consensual or is a crime.

  • Are the participants old enough to consent? In the state of California, Unlawful Sexual Intercourse, commonly known at Statutory Rape, states the minimum age someone must be to have sex is 18. People below this age are considered minors and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no. Generally, “I thought she was 18” is not considered a legal excuse, it’s up to you to make sure your partner is old enough to legally take part.
  • Do both people have the capacity to consent? California law outlines who has the mental and legal capacity to consent.  This includes people with a mental disorder or developmental or physical disability, as well as some elderly people, and people who have been drugged, are intoxicated , or are unconscious during the sex act.
  • Did both participants agree to take part? Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape. It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex. “No” also means “Stop.” If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime under the laws of your state (check your state’s laws for specifics).