If your loved one was recently assaulted, there may be time-sensitive things to do in the immediate aftermath. While there is not one “right” way to respond to sexual assault, here are some steps that survivors often find useful:
- Find safety. Put distance between the victim and his/her perpetrator. Call the police.
- Go to the nearest hospital to seek medical attention. Even if the victim doesn’t believe he/she has any injuries, a SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) exam can be a way to access tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a way to collect evidence. There is no cost for SART exams, so don’t worry about financial barriers to these resources. Help your friend preserve any physical evidence, especially on his/her body. Discourage your friend from bathing or washing before getting a medical examination. If your friend has changed clothes since the assault, locate the soiled clothes and bring them with you to the hospital. This way any evidence will be collected in a way that maximizes the chances for catching or convicting the perpetrator.
- Call the RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network) toll-free hotline at (800) 656 – HOPE(4673) from your local phone. This will connect you to the rape crisis center in your area. Many rape crisis centers have available advocates who will meet you and your loved one at the hospital to walk her through the process. An advocate can also provide valuable information about resources that may be available to your friend.
This is not an exhaustive list, but an informal, informational blog post. There are potential legal and other ramifications of such a serious incident. Contact your local authorities for more information.
For more information on how to support a loved one who has disclosed sexual assault to you, see this post.