A sexual assault can leave a person feeling lost and alone. The damage and pain it causes are immense, and few know what to do afterward. After any sexual assault, there are steps that need to be taken to protect your health and for any possible legal action in the future. No matter what, anyone who is assaulted should follow the steps outlined below. Taking care of your own personal safety and bringing the individual responsible to justice is absolutely necessary.
Know It Was Sexual Assault And It Is Their Fault
After a sexual assault occurs, there are some feelings and thoughts that go through the victim’s mind. One of the most common is the idea that there is some personal responsibility there. Victims typically blame themselves to some extent. They will see themselves as responsible, thinking about what they could have done. Maybe if they did not go somewhere, say something, or do something, things would have been different.
Some might question whether it was sexual assault at all. They will play down the behavior and actions in an attempt to make it acceptable. Neither of these actions is right; the victim is not responsible for someone else’s actions. When someone chooses to commit a sexual act, it is completely on them. Regardless of what the victim says or does, they are still the victim.
If the perpetrator forced the actions against the consent of the victim, coerced the victim, or rendered the victim incapable of consenting, it is sexual assault. Always remember, any unwanted sexual act is assault.
Every person needs to consider their own safety first. After a sexual assault, your personal safety is at risk. The assailant might have transmitted some sort of disease and it is best to catch it as early as possible.
Go to a place that offers security and safety. A place where there is no threat of harm, where the person responsible cannot do anything. Home, a friend’s house, or the authorities are all potential options. Any place that offers some form of protection is a good choice.
Go there, relax, and take a deep breath. Breathe and collect your thoughts. Removing yourself from the situation and calming down can help clear the mind and make it easier to think. It reduces the stress and anxiety that a traumatic event causes, making it easier to handle the steps moving forward.
Finding a safe place can also embolden you to come forward about the event. Talking to someone or reaching out to authorities becomes less frightening when calm; taking action becomes a real possibility.
Keep The Evidence
Not all forms of sexual assault come with evidence. Those that do, however, require extra attention and care. Instead of throwing it all away, taking a shower, and trying to get rid of it all, keep it for the authorities. When there is evidence, it is easier for the authorities to convict.
Often, victims throw away the evidence or take a shower because of shame, fear, or the desire to “clean” themselves of the event. It was a traumatic event that they want to forget, and getting rid of the evidence is the easiest way to forget. No matter how tempting it is to do this, that evidence is crucial in securing a conviction and finding justice.
Call A Hotline
Hotlines exist for the victims who need someone to help. These professionals will offer guidance, information, and assistance throughout the ordeal. From the moment they receive the call, they are there to help you through every step and to keep you from losing your sanity.
These crisis specialists receive training to handle victims of sexual assault. They can work with tact and professionalism to ensure that the victim feels a sense of relief and security. Beyond that, they also know whom to call and where to send the victim.
Go To The Hospital
In many cases, a hospital visit in an absolute necessity. There, they can collect evidence and contact the police, forming the first part of a conviction. They run tests to provide police with any DNA or other important information.
After the police arrive, they will take statements and speak with the victim at length. They will go over the event, learn the specifics of it, and try to figure out who did it. If the victim knows, they will use that information to move forward with an investigation.
Speak To The School Or Work
If this happened at school or work, notify the higher ups. Contact the administration or management responsible, file a complaint, and let them handle it from there. Sometimes, they may ask that the police not be involved. However, for the victim, the police are crucial. Involving the proper authorities is always in the best interest of the victim.
Speak To Others
Victims sometimes keep the trauma to themselves. They would rather bury it than speak about it. There are reasons behind this, like shame or fear, but those reasons are not valid. Burying it only helps the assailant. Instead, talk about it. Find a group, find a trusted friend or family member, and get it out. Talking about it, feelings, fears, thoughts, and everything else going on can help in personal healing. It is part of moving forward and feeling better.
These trusted people can also offer a support system. After a traumatic event, support systems are the most important thing for a victim to have. They offer guidance and help, and they are there when things seem impossible. Rely on this support system for as long as needed in order to heal.
Sexual assault is more prevalent in our society than it has ever been. There is never a time where it is acceptable. Someone who has been attacked should know that it was not their fault and then they need to do what is necessary to protect themselves and ensure a conviction of the assailant. Sexual assault does not have to end a person’s future. There is always a way to recover from it.
What to Do If You Were Sexually Assaulted