What To Do If You’ve Been A Victim Of Sexual Assault

Flickr / Kendra Miller
Flickr / Kendra Miller

What happened is not your fault.

If you are in immediate danger call 911.

Do not shower, change clothes, brush your hair or in any way damage the physical evidence. You need to preserve the physical evidence, including DNA evidence, as is for the proper administration of a rape kit. Rape kits are straight-forward, anonymous, only kept on file for 18 months after the incident, and will only be examined or put to use if you decide to. It is always better to keep the option open for yourself.

Call a friend or family member you can trust for emotional, physical, and medical support. You may feel judged, exposed, guilty, or other difficult emotions that may make you want to simply deny the situation and move forward without discussing the event. It is important to reach out for support as soon as you are able so that somebody you trust can help give you guidance and stay clear headed about the situation.

Go to a local emergency room. A medical exam can be quickly administered to identify and treat external or internal injuries. The doctors and nurses there can also treat you with medications that can prevent pregnancy and the transmission of STIs during the crucial 24 hours after the incident. Hospitals often provide this service anonymously and free of charge to those who require it. A nurse can assist you in processing your rape kit so that the evidence is available on file should you choose to pursue your case with the authorities.

Follow up with your doctor. It’s important to follow up with your scheduled doctors appointments following the application of STI and pregnancy prevention medications. Any injuries you may have gotten will also need to be overseen by a doctor as they heal.

Follow up with the police. If you want to pursue your case legally as a crime you can contact your local police precinct and report the crime for investigation. Many people choose not to speak up immediately following sexual assault but later wish to pursue the case. Go when you are comfortable and emotionally ready.

Seek talk and group therapy. The difficult thing in such traumatic situations is that the veil of shock may give the victim the false sense that they aren’t as emotional about the situation as they may in actuality be. If you’re comfortable, make an appointment in either a group therapy session or a one-on-one talk session with a psychologist, therapist, or counselor who specializes in cases of sexual assault in order to take care of your needs should they arise.

For more information on sexual assault or to speak to somebody knowledgeable, contact RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) at https://www.rainn.org/ or 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). TC mark

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