What to Do After a Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is an extremely traumatic experience that can leave you at a loss as to what to do next. You might have physical injuries and significant emotional distress and are unsure of where to start. Know you are not alone. Help is available. While there is no right or wrong way to react to sexual assault, seeking assistance from professionals can help you take care of your physical and emotional needs.
Remove Yourself From the Dangerous Situation
Physical safety should be your priority after sexual assault. You cannot begin to heal without first having a sense of physical safety and security. Get to a place where the perpetrator cannot sexually assault you again. Go to a trusted friend or family member’s house, or seek refuge in a domestic violence shelter. If the assailant was a stranger, go to the police or a hospital to get safely away from the criminal. Remove yourself from a position where an assault is likely to happen again.
Realize the Assault Was Not Your Fault
Sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault. Blaming yourself for what happened could make you avoid the police or fail to receive medical care. What happened was not your fault. Someone did something to you without your consent, and that is unacceptable. Instead of blaming yourself, blame the person actually at fault – the perpetrator. Take steps to put space between you and the person who assaulted you. Then get help.
Call a Hotline for Guidance
In the aftermath of a sexual assault, the best way to receive guidance on what to do next is to dial the number for a national hotline. National hotlines are strictly confidential and will never force you to do anything you do not want to do. They will connect you with professionals who know exactly how to help during this difficult situation. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline anytime at (800) 656-HOPE (4673) to speak confidentially with a trained staff member. Someone will direct you to the nearest hospital that can help you as a survivor, as well as guide you through the next steps toward healing and recovery.
Seek Medical Care
Try your best to get to a medical care facility after sexual assault. Going into a hospital to talk about what happened might be the last thing you want to do, but medical attention is important for your physical health and a future case against the perpetrator. Prompt medical care could lead to evidence or proof against the person who assaulted you. Do your best not to change or shower before your arrival. Go directly to a health care facility after the incident and request a sexual assault forensic exam. This could give you a stronger case against the assailant later. If you worry about the costs of medical care after a sexual assault, look into victim compensation funds to help you pay for care.
Report the Assault to Law Enforcement
Report sexual assault to local law enforcement by calling 911. You can report the incident immediately after, once you are in a safe location or after you have received medical care. Try to report it within 72 hours. You can speak to trained sexual assault response professionals who can help you as a survivor. The officer will work with you to organize an investigation, interview you and communicate with other agencies. Even if you know the person who assaulted you, sexual assault is against the law. Call the police to report the crime and get help.
Speak to a Sexual Assault Lawyer
There is a statute of limitations on bringing a civil claim against someone who has sexually assaulted you. Contact a Richmond sexual abuse lawyer as soon as possible after the incident for counsel. A lawyer can provide tailored assistance while keeping your needs and goals in mind during the fight against a perpetrator. While the police can take care of criminal charges, a lawyer can help you demand financial compensation for your damages, all while protecting your identity, rights and best interests.