What to do immediately if you have been raped

Follow these 6 important steps immediately after an attack.

SUMMARY: Sexual assault happens to 1 in 5 women in the US. This article presents a list of the 6 most important steps one can take immediately after a sexual attack.

If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, here are six important steps for you to take:

1. Call 9-1-1 if you need medical care or are in danger.

If possible, get away from the person who attacked you and get to a safe place immediately.

2. Do not wash up or change clothes, if possible.

Although you might want to immediately clean up, it is important to save anything that might have the attacker’s DNA on it. Do not clean, comb, or brush any part of your body and don’t change anything at the scene of the assault. These steps will give the police the physical evidence from the perpetrator.

3. Go to the emergency room ASAP.

You need to be seen and treated for injuries, including:

  • Be given medicine to prevent pregnancy
  • Be given medicine to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Testing for date rape drugs, such as GHB and Rohypnol (“roofies”)

A doctor or nurse will also collect evidence from a rape kit, such as hair, fibers, saliva, or semen. Please note: You do not have to decide whether or not you will press charges while you are at the hospital.

4. Call someone you trust or a crisis center.

Reaching out for help can help you feel grounded at this time. Trained volunteers can help you at crisis centers and help you find resources and support.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 800-656-4673; if you are a military service member, you can also call the DoD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5246.

5. Write down details of the attack.

Write down anything you can remember about the person who assaulted you and what happened during the attack.

6. Report the assault to the police.

Call 9-1-1 to report the attack; use a friend’s phone if you think that your attacker might check your phone for calls.

If you want to speak with someone before you report the assault, a counselor at the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673) can help you understand what is involved with reporting the crime.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month of Action. In the USA, almost 20% of all women have been raped. Knowing these six simple steps can help if you, a friend, or loved one if you ever face a sexual assault situation.

Source: The Office on Women’s Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services has an extensive online library of resources at womenshealth.gov to help you learn about sexual assault and how you can find a health center.

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