What should I do if I am sexually assaulted or raped?

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPC, CST

Find a safe environment

Anywhere away from the attacker. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you for moral support.

Know that what happened was not your fault and that now you should do what is best for you.

Report the attack

to police by calling 911. If you want more information, a counselor on the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE can help you understand the process.

To preserve evidence of the attack – don’t bathe or brush your teeth.

Write down all the details you can recall about the attack & the attacker.

Get medical attention.

Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.

To preserve forensic evidence, ask the hospital to conduct a rape kit exam.

If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected. The sample will need to be analyzed later on by a forensic lab.

If you know that you will never report, there are some things you should still consider:

Get medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline

Operated by RAINN, for free, confidential counseling, 24 hours a day: 1-800-656-HOPE.

Recognize that healing from rape takes time. Give yourself the time you need.

Know that it’s never too late to call. Even if the attack happened years ago, the National Sexual Assault Hotline or the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline can still help. Many victims do not realize they need help until months or years later.

How can I help a loved one who has been raped or sexually assaulted?

There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been raped or sexually assaulted:

  • Pray. Ask God for help in this difficult time, and ask Him to give you wisdom about what steps to take.
  • Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
  • Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual assault are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
  • If you are dealing with an issue involving your child, create a safe place by talking directly to them.
  • If you are the non-abusing parent in a case of incest, it is important to support your child and help them through this situation without blaming them. This is also true if you are not a parent but still an observer of incest.
  • If you’re loved one is considering suicide, follow-up with them on a regular basis.
  • Encourage your loved one to report the rape or sexual assault to law enforcement (call 911 in most areas). If your loved one has questions about the criminal justice process, talking with someone on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1.800.656.HOPE, can help.
  • Let your loved one know that professional help is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1.800.656.HOPE, and MyCounselor.Online (855.5WE.HELP) for ongoing recovery.
  • If your loved one is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany him or her wherever s/he needs to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.)
  • Encourage him or her to contact help, but realize that only your loved one can make the decision to get help.

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