What To Do If You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

Get to a safe place: To insure your safety, immediately leave the location where the attack occurred and find a secure place where you know you’ll be safe.

Preserve evidence: It’s important for you not to change your clothing or shower so that DNA can be preserved.

Don’t go it alone: Call a trusted friend or family member for moral support. In addition, you may want to reach out to your community rape crisis center or contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE to speak with a councilor over the phone.

Seek medical attention: Even if you feel your injuries are minor, receiving medical attention provides a number of benefits. First and most important is to ensure that any injuries are discovered and properly treated. In addition, health practitioners can collect DNA samples to help confirm the identity of the attacker, screen for STIs and offer medicine that can prevent HIV.

Document what happened: As soon as possible, while still fresh in your memory, write down the details of your attack. Should you decide to take legal action, now or later, this will be useful.

Don’t ignore your emotional wellbeing: The emotional toll and mental fallout from an event like this can be serious and long-lasting. Because of this, beyond support from family and friends, it is extremely beneficial to seek assistance from a mental health professional who understands the issues you are facing and can help guide you through the recovery process.

Consider your legal options: The decision to report your assault is entirely yours. There are pros and cons. Some survivors say that reporting and seeking justice helped them recover and regain a sense of control over their lives. Others say it was an ordeal that wasn’t worth the outcome. If you decide to take legal action, the following webpage will help guide you through the process: How to Report Sexual Assault.

It is highly unlikely that you’ll ever have to go through something like this. However, being aware of your options and knowing what steps to take — just in case — is empowering. If the worst should happen, you’ll be prepared to recover, regain well-being, and take back control of your life.