Should I do if I have Been Raped or Sexually Assaulted?
- Make sure you are in a safe environment. If you believe
you are still in danger, call 911.
Consider reporting the attack to police. If you would
like to report, call 911.
- Once you're out of physical danger, contact someone
you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, teacher, school
counselor, friend's parent, doctor or religious leader.
- Call us for advice, support and help. We have trained rape crisis hotline staff and
volunteers available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you through
the recovery process. You can reach us at 1.800.656.HOPE (press ONE at
- If you are under 18, tell a trusted adult. (But remember, not every adult is able to help. You
may need to tell more than one person before you find someone who can
help.) It's important to be aware that, if you disclose your identity and
location and that you are being harmed, the person you tell may be
required by state law to alert authorities.
- If you do not have any
trusted adults in your life or wish to talk confidentially for now, you
can call the Child Help hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
- You can also call Child
Protective Services for your area. You can usually find the number in
the blue pages of your phone book, or by contacting the local police
- Learn more about mandatory reporting
- If you are thinking about suicide, call the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.
- If you have already taken
steps to harm yourself or feel that you can't stop yourself from
committing suicide, call 911 or go to the emergency room.
Complete a forensic exam (sometimes called a "rape
- While many survivors find pursuing justice an
important part of their recovery process, only you can decide if it is
the right choice for you. If you have questions about the process, call
us and we can explain what to expect.
- If you do plan to report the attack to police, or
think there's a chance you will want to in the future, write down all the
details of the attack that you can remember — while the memory is still
- If you do report: Most successful prosecutions end in
a plea agreement, without trial, which means that the victim does not
have to testify. However if your case does go to trial, you will
generally have to testify. If you are worried about having to testify
about intimate matters, let the police or prosecutor know about your
concerns. They can explain the laws in your state and help you understand
what might happen if you do go to trial.
Seek medical attention (even if you don't intend to
report the attack to police).
- To find a hospital or medical center near you with
forensic exam capability, call us at 1.800.656.HOPE (press ONE at the
- After a rape or sexual assault, there is certain
evidence of the attack left behind on the victim's body and clothing. A
forensic exam collects this evidence and documents the physical findings
to provide information to help reconstruct the details about the attack
- If you intend to report the
attack to police, or think that there is a chance you will want to in
the future, it is important to have a forensic exam as soon as possible
—while the evidence is still able to be collected.
- Under federal law, you are
entitled to receive a free forensic exam even if you do not report the
attack to police. This frees you from making an immediate decision about
reporting — you can preserve the evidence now, and decide whether to
- Don't bathe or brush your teeth before visiting the
emergency room in order to preserve the forensic evidence.
The forensic exam involves collecting evidence of the attack, such as
hairs, fluids and fibers, and preserving the evidence for forensic
analysis. If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine
sample be collected during the evidentiary exam.
There are medical concerns that arise both immediately following the assault
and much later. Even with no visible physical injuries, it is important to
be tested for STIs and pregnancy.
- If you visit a hospital, ask for testing and
preventative treatment. They may provide you with antibiotics for STIs as
well as help you to arrange follow-up testing.
- The Centers for Disease Control recommends
post-exposure HIV prophylaxis for victims of sexual assault (prophylaxis
is treatment meant to prevent, rather than treat or cure, a disease).
- CDC recommends follow-up
testing as well as other blood tests to rule out HIV at two weeks, six
weeks, three months and six months after an assault.
like consensual intercourse, can lead to pregnancy. Therefore, it is important
for female victims to be tested after an assault. For more information, visit Medline Plus. (According to medical reports, the
incidence of pregnancy following one-time unprotected sexual intercourse is
- The effects of sexual assault on victims and their
loved ones can be felt psychologically, emotionally, and physically. They can be very brief or end up long-term in
duration; they may even last a lifetime. It is important to remember that
there is no one "normal" reaction to sexual assault. Every
individual's response will be different depending on the situation. Healing
from rape or sexual assault takes time. Here are some common issues
that survivors may need to consider in working toward physical and mental
function better when our bodies are in top condition. Therefore, those who take
better care of themselves, have some key tools to better handle the aftermath
of a stressful situation like sexual assault. We tend to underestimate the
value of things like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and
getting a good night's sleep.
- Adequate Nutrition: To better concentrate on dealing with the emotional
aspects of sexual assault recovery, ensure that you are receiving the nutrition
you need. Learn more about eating a nutritious diet.
The Center for Disease Control recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise
5 times a week. Even just a quick walk at lunchtime, can help combat
feelings of sadness or depression and prevent chronic health problems.
- Stay busy:
Many survivors have full time jobs, go to school, volunteer and have
families. Finding time to do activities that you enjoy is an important
aspect of self-care. Get involved in a sport or hobby that you love! If
you have a spouse or partner, make a date night and stick with it. Treat
leisure activities as seriously as work or school appointments.
Make sure your body is getting the rest it needs. Although every person
is different, a reasonable guideline is that most people need between
7-10 hours of sleep per night.
the importance of your emotional well-being is the start of living a healthy
lifestyle. You must be willing to feel and express emotions about what you've
gone through in the past and what you will go through in the future. Whether it
is with one other person, a group of people, or on your own, knowing,
accepting, and saying how you feel are steps in the right direction.
Know that it is never too late to call for help. Even if the attack happened years ago, it's never too
late to get help. Many victims do not realize they need help until months
or years later. Call us at 1.800.656.HOPE (press ONE at the menu) to speak
with someone about your attack.
Seeing a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or a therapist,
one-on-one or as part of a support group, can help you and your loved
ones process what has happened. Contact us for suggestions.
- Journal or Diary: Some survivors find that recording their thoughts
and feelings in a journal or diary helps them manage their emotions after
an assault. Meditation or relaxation exercises help many survivors as
- Surround yourself with positive people: It's important to make sure that the people in your
life are supportive. Nurture relationships with people that make you feel
good about yourself!
- Look out for yourself: Be wary of friends or family who leave you feeling
tired or depressed when you see them, never have time to listen to you,
or dismiss or belittle your experience as a survivor. Focus on spending
time with those you care about and who care about what is best for you.
more about the possible effects of sexual assault, please visit: http://www.rainn.org/get-information/effects-of-sexual-assault.