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Sexual Assault (cont.)

Getting help for sexual assault

Take steps right away if you have been assaulted:

  • Get away from the attacker and find a safe place as fast as you can. Call 911.
  • Call someone you trust or a hotline, such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
  • Protect any evidence. Do not clean any part of your body or comb your hair. Do not change clothes. Try not to touch anything at the crime scene.
  • Go to your nearest hospital emergency room right away. You need to be examined and treated for injuries you may not even know you have. Ask to be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and for emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. The hospital also can collect evidence like hairs, saliva, semen, or clothing fiber that the attacker may have left behind.
  • Discuss filing a police report. If you're not sure whether you want to file a report, ask hospital staff if they can collect evidence without filing a report. It is best to collect evidence as soon as possible.

After a sexual assault, you may need a lot of emotional support. Every woman responds differently, but reactions can include feeling terribly shocked, confused, and afraid. Some women experience denial or feeling emotionally numb. Whatever your experience, reach out to people who care about you and get help from a mental health professional. The hospital usually can put you in touch with a counselor or support group. Even if a long time has passed since you were abused, you still can get help.

If someone you know has been abused or assaulted you can help by listening and offering comfort. If the person wants, you also can go along to the police station, the hospital, or counseling sessions. Make sure the person knows the abuse is not his or her fault, and that it is natural to feel angry and ashamed.

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