What to do if you are sexually assaulted

  • Make sure you are in a safe environment. If you believe you are still in danger, call 911.
  • Once you are out of physical danger, you may find it helpful to contact someone you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, teacher, counselor, friend’s parent, doctor or religious leader.
  • If you are under 18,
    • Tell a trusted adult. (But remember, not every adult is able /willing to help. You may need to tell more than one person before you find someone who can help.) It’s important to be aware that, if you disclose your identity and location and that you are being harmed, the person you tell may be required by state law to alert authorities.
    • If you do not have any trusted adults in your life, or wish to talk confidentially for now, you can call A Safe Place’s hotline, 508-228-2111, or the Child Help hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD.
  • It is important to get advice, support and help. A Safe Place has trained advocates available 24/7 to answer your questions and help you through the recovery process.
  • Consider reporting the assault to the police. If you would like to report, call 911.
    • While many survivors find pursuing justice an important part of their recovery process, only you can decide if it is the right choice for you. If you have questions about the process, an A Safe Place advocate can explain what to expect.
  • Consider completing a forensic exam (sometimes called a “rape kit”).
    • After a rape or sexual assault, there is certain evidence of the attack left behind on the victim’s body and clothing. A forensic exam collects this evidence and documents the physical findings.
    • If you intend to report the attack to police, or think that there is a chance you will want to in the future, it is important to have a forensic exam as soon as possible within 120 hours of the assault. Advocates from A Safe Place are available 24/7 to meet you at the hospital to provide support and information.
    • Under federal law, you are entitled to receive a free forensic exam even if you do not report the attack to police.
    • Try not to bathe or brush your teeth before visiting the emergency room in order to preserve the forensic evidence.
    • If you suspect you may have been drugged, you may talk to your advocate about the pros and cons of having a blood or urine sample collected during the exam.
  • Seek medical attention (even if you don’t intend to report the attack to police).
    • There are medical concerns that arise both immediately following the assault and much later. Even with no visible physical injuries, it is important to be tested for STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and pregnancy, and learn about preventive treatment options available to you.
  • Rape, just like consensual intercourse, can lead to pregnancy. Therefore, it is important for female victims to be tested after an assault. For more information, and to learn about the option of emergency contraception, call A Safe Place or Health Imperatives of Nantucket.
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