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According to a study done by RAINN, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted every two minutes.  Unfortunately, out of those victims, less than half are actually reported.  Sometimes, this happens out of shame or fear on the part of the victim.  If this is the case, you have to remember that sexual assault is NEVER the victims’ fault, and that reporting your attack can decrease the chances that your attacker will go on to harm someone else.  And other times, it is simply because the victim is unsure of what to do next, or by the time they figure out their next step, they fear they have waited too long.  So here is a checklist of things to do, if you or someone you know is ever raped.  I want you to read over this thoroughly, memorize these steps, and then share them on your Facebook, through emails, hang them in your sorority, whatever.  Just make sure that everyone you know is familiar with what to do in the event that a rape happens.  I hope that no one ever has to go through this, but if they do, I can rest easier knowing that they are prepared.  But just know, that no matter how well you have this memorized, if you or someone you know has to live through this, this checklist is only the beginning.  The key to overcoming sexual assault or any other violent crime is by continuing with long-term support, and surrounding yourself with people you can talk openly to.

What to do if you are raped…

  • STEP 1: Get to a safe place immediately.

This might seem like a given, but sometimes our attacker is someone we know and don’t want to offend.  If you are assaulted, get away from that person immediately and go somewhere safe to prevent a second attack.

 

  • STEP 2: Notify the police.

This shouldn’t be just an option, it should be a requirement to follow if you are attacked.  Too many sexual assaults go unreported, and too many perpetrators attack again.  As soon as you are assaulted and in a safe place, call 911 or your local authorities and make a report.  The quicker you do this after the incident, the more likely the authorities can track down your attacker.

 

  • STEP 3: Collect all evidence.

Don’t shower, change your clothes, do not brush your teeth, wash your hands, or remove any other evidence from your body.  Though your first reaction may be to cleanse yourself of all traces of your attacker, doing so will remove any hope of linking them to the attack.  Grab a change of clothes, if possible, to take to the hospital with you, so you will have something fresh to put on after all evidence is collected.  If you absolutely must urinate, do so in a clean container, and take it to be tested at the hospital.  Grab a notebook and write down everything you remember about the attack, and add to it as more details come to you.  Sometimes you won’t remember anything for long after the attack, or other times, you’ll forget the details almost right away.  So it’s best to write every bit of information (haircolor, location of attack, tattoos, what they said, etc.) as soon as you recall it.  If you realize at this point that you have forgotten some of the information when you reported the attack to police, you can always go back to them with the additional info.

 

  • STEP 4: Get Support.

Once you are safe, and have notified the authorities, call someone you trust who can support you throughout the next few steps, and through your long-term healing process after.  Following such a traumatic event, your emotions come to an extreme peak and your focus becomes significantly impaired.  You will need someone to keep you calm and help you remember all of the information given to you.

 

  • STEP 5: Go to your local hospital.

Within 72 hours of being sexually assaulted, visit your local hospital to have a medical exam.  Take a close friend or relative with you.  If there is no one you trust, contact your local Rape Crisis Center and have a counselor meet you at the hospital to help you stay focused and calm.  If your local hospital does not staff a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), they can call one in for you from another hospital.  To save yourself a lot of extra time waiting though, you can do a quick search of local hospitals in your area before you make your visit, to see which hospitals have the SANE team members already on hand.

While at the hospital, you will need to have a number of things done.

  • You will need a rape exam (rape kit) to collect evidence.

  • You will need a general medical exam, to assess for any injuries that may have occurred during the attack.

  • You will need to be tested for possible sexually transmitted diseases, and you will be administered antibiotics to treat chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, and may receive a Hepatitis B shot as a precaution before you even leave the emergency room.  You will need to return for a checkup again in 2, 6, 12, and 24 weeks, as signs and symptoms of HIV and other diseases can show up at different rates for different people.  It is imperative that you test on time, and often after a rape, to increase your chances of treating an infection early.  Read our previous blog for more detailed info on std’s and rape (https://www.avoicefortheinnocent.org/rape-and-stds/)

  • If you are not on birth control, you can request an emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy.

  • If you believe you may have been administered a rape drug, have your urine sample with you to be tested.

 

  • STEP 6: Ask for follow-up information.

Your hospital should have pamphlets with information on local agencies you can contact to help you deal with a sexual assault.  Contact local Rape Crisis Centers for advice on where to get long-term help, and tips on how to cope with triggers.  Also ask for information on where to schedule your follow up std tests.

 

  • STEP 7: Seek long-term support.

Though it only takes a few moments for a sexual assault to occur, the effects can last a lifetime.  Don’t try to hold your feelings in, or try to deal with the experience on your own.  Many men and women who have been victims of these crimes believe that showing their fear and pain connected to the incident is a sign of weakness.  But the real strength lies in overcoming your experiences, and in order to do so, you must learn healthy ways to cope with the trauma.  Professional therapy is always recommended, but talking to a friend, a family member, or a trusted companion on a regular basis is often equally as soothing for some victims.  The key to healing is to remember that, no matter who you are, you are not alone.

So again, a brief summary of the steps you need to take after a sexual assault;

 

  • Step 1: Get to a safe place

  • Step 2: Notify the authorities

  • Step 3: Collect all evidence

  • Step 4: Get support

  • Step 5: Go to your local hospital

    • Get a rape exam

    • Get a medical exam

    • Test for sexually transmitted diseases

    • Consider emergency contraceptive

    • Test urine sample for rape drug

  • Step 6: Ask for follow-up information

  • Step 7: Seek long-term support

 

Share this information with everyone you love, in hopes that they never have to use it.

Sources:

http://www.911rape.org/getting-help/what-to-do-if-you-are-raped

http://www.ithappenedtoalexa.org/expect.html

http://womenshealth.about.com/lw/Health-Medicine/Womens-Health/After-Rape-Getting-a-Medical-nbsp-Exam-is-Essential.htm

 

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