What do I do after an assault?
In an ideal world, we would never even have to talk about sexual assault. However, we don’t live in that world, but instead our statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. If it happens to you or a loved one, do you have the knowledge of what to do? After sexual assault, it’s hard to know how to react. You may be physically injured, emotionally exhausted, and unsure what to do. Knowing what options you have following a sexual assault can help you navigate through a difficult time.
After being sexually assaulted, you may have a lot of questions, including some like these: Why did this happen to me? Did I do something to cause this to happen? Can I develop an infection, catch a disease or become pregnant as a result of the assault? Who should I call for help? Should I report this to the police? Since I was drinking, is this my fault?
In all cases, it is important to know that you did not cause the sexual assault. No one ever deserves to be assaulted. You cannot consent to sex if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Flirting is not giving consent. Clothing does not imply consent. Going on a date with someone does not mean you give consent for sexual activity. Consent is verbal, clear and freely given by both parties.
If you become a victim of sexual assault, here are some steps that are recommended:
• Get to a safe place away from your assailant.
• Call a friend or relative who will offer you support.
• If possible, do not change your clothing, use the restroom, bathe or brush your teeth until evidence is collected.
• Contact your local Rape Crisis Center for access to a Rape Response Advocate, SANE Nurse, medical care and other supports.
• Contact the police. Sexual assault is a crime and you have the right to report it to the police. The police will come and ask you questions, and they’ll also talk to you about whether or not you want to press charges. The decision to call the police or not is yours to make.
If you or someone you love has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, we can help. Crisis Services offers free services such as crisis counseling, support groups, court advocacy, referrals, safe shelter and compassionate listening. Contact your Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 or you may call our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000.