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If You Are a Victim of Sexual Assault

  If You Are a Victim of Sexual Assault, You Might:

  • Feel afraid, ashamed, angry, sad, lonely, betrayed, or depressed.
  • Feel guilty and confused if you knew or had a relationship with the attacker, even though the assault was not your fault.
  • Feel alone and isolated.
  • Feel that friends, family and police may not believe you.
  • Want to hurt someone else or yourself.
  • Feel like taking steps to defend yourself.
  • Feel helpless to stop the assault.
  • Feel hopeless about whether anything can be done.
  • Be afraid to go anywhere that the attacker might be.
  • Feel anxious all the time.
  • Feel bad about yourself or your body.
  • Sexual assault is a widespread and under-reported crime.
  • More victims are raped by people they know than they are by strangers.

Get Help

Being a victim of sexual assault is not your fault. Nothing in what you say, the way you look, where you are, or who you are with gives anyone else the right to hurt you.

Seek immediate medical attention, preferably at an emergency room. Medical personnel will treat any injuries you may have and collect evidence for possible later use by law enforcement. The exam is called a “rape kit.” If you might ever want to report the assault to the police, it is important that you do not shower, change clothes, or clean up in any way before going to the hospital, in order not to disturb any evidence medical staff might be able to collect for the police. Sometimes this process can be easier if you have a friend or victim advocate with you.

Even if you don’t want to report the assault to police right now, it is still important to have a medical exam to make sure you are all right. Sometimes people change their minds and want to report to the police later. Also, in addition to treating injuries, medical personnel can test for pregnancy and whether or not you may have been drugged. They can also give you medication to reduce your chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or getting pregnant.

Tell a trusted friend. See if someone can go with you to get medical treatment.

Call a local victim service provider, such as a rape crisis center. You may be able to find a number to call in your local phone book. If you cannot find one, call the National Crime Victim Helpline at 1-800-FYI-CALL or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. If you want to report the assault, call the police.

If you want help deciding whom to talk to, call the National Crime Victim Helpline at 1-800-FYI-CALL, or an anonymous crisis line in your area. You might also want to talk to a family member, neighbor or friend, or another person who you trust.

Help Yourself

Try to avoid being alone, especially with your attacker, and be alert to your surroundings.

Think about getting help making a safety plan to avoid or escape a dangerous situation, especially if you know your attacker.

Make sure you have a safe place to stay.