6 Steps to Take After Being Sexually Assaulted

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(Newswire.net — June 20, 2019) — Sexual assault is one of the most unfortunate realities of life. Victims of sexual assault often experience feelings of depression, hopelessness, and shame. It is important to remember that it is not your fault. Put together by a sexual assault lawyer, here are a few steps to take to ensure your safety, health, and possibly justice.

Get to a Safe Place

Get to somewhere you feel safe. This may be your home, a friend or family member’s home, a police station, anywhere that you can begin to calm down from the traumatic event. It’s important to focus on yourself and be comfortable with your surroundings so you can begin the process of healing and take the next steps with a relatively clear head.

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673)

The National Sexual Assault Hotline will connect you with a local sexual assault service provider. They will direct you to the specific healthcare facility for the next steps. If needed, they can send an advocate to go over the process with you. It is important to get medical attention after this event, and the NSAH can help you feel safe and secure as you do.

The NSAH will have specific information and guidelines regarding your situation, but it is generally recommended that you don’t shower or bathe before going in for you medical examination. You should also bring a change of clothing, if you can.

Get a Medical Examination and a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination

Even if you were not injured in the assault, you should get a medical examination and consider getting a sexual assault forensic exam—often called a “rape kit.” Someone trained specifically for this examination will try to collect DNA evidence that can be used in a case against the assaulter. You do not have to submit to this examination, but it is recommended to help you in the legal process should you choose to press charges in the future.

You may be given medicines to help prevent sexually transmitted infections. These can have significant side effects, and you should ask any questions you have about them. You should consider getting tested for STIs. However, in some cases the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner may advise against that. Sometimes, a positive test can be used against the victim to suggest they are sexually promiscuous. It is unfortunate, but some courts have backwards views regarding victims of sexual assault and are quick to blame the victim. Ask your healthcare professional what is best for you. Ultimately, your health is more important than the legal proceedings that may occur.

Report the Crime

It is entirely up to you whether or not to report the crime. The legal process can drag out the trauma of the event and slow your progress in healing. However, some victims feel that finding justice helped them reestablish control over their own lives. And, if the perpetrator is caught, it can help prevent more victims. That said, it is not your responsibility if you feel you aren’t up to the task. Your personal health comes first, and you shouldn’t feel any shame either way.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, contact the local police department by calling them or visiting in person. In most areas, you will discuss the crime with someone specifically trained to deal with crimes of this nature.

You should feel free to report this crime even if the assault was an unsuccessful attempt or did not physically injure you. 2/3 of sexual assault victims know the assailant, but this should not stop you from reporting the even. Even if you have given sexual consent to the perpetrator in the past, that does not mean they had consent for the future.

Reach Out to a Victim Compensation Fund

There may be expenses associated with the necessary medical steps, but that shouldn’t stop you from going through with them. There are programs to help you with the costs of treatment. You may be required to report the crime to law enforcement within 3 days of the event in order to be eligible.

Safely Process the Event

Eventually, you will need to process the experience in a safe and healthy way. Avoiding the issue will make it very difficult to heal from it. Victims of sexual assault often show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and need professional help. A trained therapist can help you deal with the memories and psychological distress associated with them, to help you truly move past the event.