What to Do Immediately if You Have Been Sexually Assaulted
Get away from the attacker to a safe place as fast as you can. Then call 911 or the police. Police departments have personnel who are trained to help survivors of sexual violence.
Call a friend or family member you trust. You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a counselor. One 24/7 option, for all genders, is the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)’s National Sexual Assault Hotline on the web, or at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Through their website or telephone hotline, RAINN will provide you a confidential referral to a local sexual assault service provider or victims advocate.
Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional. If privacy is a concern and/or you’re under 18, you do not have to give your last name and you can block your phone or clear your online history.
Preserve the evidence even if you are unsure whether you will file a complaint. You do not have to report to the police if you collect evidence. But if you collect evidence you have more options in the future. Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not brush your teeth. Do not change clothes if possible, so the hospital nurse can collect evidence. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault. It is important to collect evidence, even if you don’t believe you will prosecute the assailant.
Seek medical attention. Go to your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. You need to be examined, treated for any injuries, and checked for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy and offered preventative medicine. The nurse or doctor will collect evidence the attacker may have left behind.
While at the hospital: Ask the hospital staff to connect you with the local rape crisis center. Many times a crisis center can support you while in the hospital, help you make choices about reporting the attack, and help you find counseling and support groups. If you decide to file a police report, you or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room.
You can also call these helplines and visit these sites for support and resources:
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) (all genders): 1-800-656-4673 rainn.org
- National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (all genders): 1-866-331-9474 loveisrespect.org
- National Helpline for Men Who Were Sexually Abused or Assaulted at 1in6.org 800-656-HOPE (4673) or online chat at https://1in6.org/helpline/
- The Trevor Project Crisis & Suicide Prevention Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth: call or text 1-866-488-7386 or online chat at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453 childhelp.org
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 thehotline.org
“In the aftermath of a sexual assault or rape, survivors can face extremely difficult and painful emotions and experiences. Every survivor responds to traumatic events in their own way. The effects of the trauma can be short-term or last long after the sexual assault or rape.” – Joyful Heart Foundation