For Survivors

Deciding to get help is a personal decision that belongs to the survivor alone. A person who has been sexually assaulted has already endured a lot and often the thought of talking to someone or seeking medical attention can be overwhelming. It is important to keep in mind however, that there are some recommended actions a survivor can take that can be beneficial in the future.

Believe in yourself. Know that when you are forced to have any form of sexual contact without your consent, it is not your fault.

Find a safe environment—anywhere away from the attacker. Contact someone immediately. Go to this person's house or have them go to where you are. Ask someone you trust to stay with you for support.

Seek medical attention immediately. Do not change your clothes,  bathe or brush your teeth. If possible, refrain from using the bathroom. This can help to preserve evidence if you choose to make a police report. Going to the hospital does not mean you have to notify the police. It is for your medical safety to be examined. Even with no visible physical injuries, it is important to determine if internal injuries were sustained (such as tearing or bruising), and to weigh the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Preventative medication can be provided if the circumstances are appropriate.

If you are able to, write down all the details you can recall about the assault and the perpetrator. Or ask a friend you can confide in to record this information for you.

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, for free, confidential counseling, 24 hours a day: 1-800-656-HOPE. When you call, you will be connected to your local rape crisis center. An advocate may be available to meet you at the hospital.

In order to preserve any forensic evidence, ask the nurse, doctor and/or advocate to explain what the forensic rape kit is, how it is performed, what the process is once it is completed and the benefits of the procedure. If there was no penetration, you may still have the kit completed to obtain evidence elsewhere on your body.

If you suspect you may have been drugged, report immediately to hospital staff. The window period to collect evidence of drugs (either through a urine sample or blood) is extremely short. The sample will be analyzed at a forensic lab.

Report the sexual assault to local law enforcement authorities, even if the assault occurred in another district. An advocate can provide the information you'll need to understand the criminal justice system process.

Recognize that healing from sexual assault or any trauma takes time. Allow yourself the time you will need to recover emotionally, mentally and physically. There is no set time frame for your healing process. To learn more about the effects of trauma, click here.

Also in this section:

Resources for friends, family, partners

Hotlines and more information

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