No one asks to be a victim. In a perfect world, sexual assault wouldn’t exist, but unfortunately, in our world, it happens. If you should find yourself the victim of such a horrific crime, first, know that you’re not to blame. You did nothing wrong, and more importantly, you are not alone.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re attacked. Your number one priority is your safety.

  • Call 911 or get to a safe place and ask someone to call the authorities for you. The dispatcher will stay on the phone with you until the police arrive.
  • If you’re not able to wait for the authorities, seek medical help immediately. Go to the emergency room, call your doctor, go to a walk-in clinic. They will check for injuries and can notify the authorities.
  • Don’t bathe or shower. Evidence will have to be collected. The authorities have a better chance of finding the person who assaulted you if you don’t do anything that could taint the evidence.
  • At the hospital, a specially trained medical professional will perform a forensic exam, which includes a rape kit. During the exam, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner will collect DNA evidence.
  • The examiner will also screen for STDs in some states. Each state has different laws regarding these screenings. If screened for them, you may be given a prophylactic treatment to help prevent STDs or infections before they take hold.
  • Law enforcement professionals will interview you. They will ask questions that may make you feel uncomfortable but are critical to finding the person who assaulted you and bringing them to justice.
  • You will be given information about support groups or organizations. You are free to call them for ongoing support.
  • Doctors and law enforcement will guide you as to what happens next. Each case is different. Every victim is different. An individualized plan will be devised to help you make it through this incredibly trying time.
  • Again, know you are not alone. There are people all around the globe who will guide you through this, or at the very least, lend an ear when you need it.

If you’re a victim of sexual assault and want to speak to trained professionals, on your time, at your pace, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). They will connect you with someone in your area who will walk you through what you need to do.

They are available 24-hours a day. In some cases, they may send an advocate (a representative of their organization) to accompany you as you meet with the authorities and with medical professionals.

By Josh Rosebund