There is no way to broach this subject carefully because once it happens, there is no way to truly get through the trauma. Once you have been raped or sexually assault, the last thing you want to do is to act. But following a series of steps can help you get through the torment, get the care you need, and move on from the incident without prolonged suffering. Remember that you are not alone. Right after you have been raped, do the three following things:
1. Get somewhere safe
Your safety is the most important thing. Immediately head to some place where you will feel secure and where you will not be alone. Reaching out to someone for support does not make you look weak. Rape is never something to go through alone.
If you still feel threatened or have been seriously injured, do not hesitate to call 911.
You may feel the need to clean up and just move on. Do not do that. Know that what happened was not your fault. Rape is not something you ask for. It is not okay, and you deserve justice, but you have to be strong to seek that justice.
2. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673
You will be connected to a trained associate who can give you the address of the nearest local sexual assault service provider. You may even be able to request a team member to accompany you to the facility so that way you do not have to go alone.
If you do not want to talk to someone, you can go to online.rainn.org (the official website for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) for anonymous chatting. It is free to call anytime of the day. You can also ask for a rape kit.
If the rape or sexual assault just happened, you will be asked to avoid showering or bathing prior to arrival at the local sexual assault service provider’s practice.
3. Go in for your medical checkup
That said, it is recommended. A comprehensive health check may be able to find injuries you cannot see and test for any infections. Have an STI and pregnancy test if the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) deems it necessary. It is ultimately up to you whether or not you want to seek medical care after sexual assault or rape. Do bring a change of clothing for after the examination.
What about sexual assault or rape in the past?
You may think too much time has elapsed to do anything. Even if the damage has been done and you have moved on, you can still report the abuse to law enforcement if desired.
Despite an investigation going on months or years after the incident has occurred running into setbacks, police can still look into the situation as long as the statute of limitations has not been reached.
A statute of limitations is more or less the expiration date for the validity of a criminal case. Once this has happened, the prosecution is no longer possible. That is why it is crucial to report the rape as soon as it happens so that you can receive the benefit of a comprehensive investigation and bring the offender to justice.
If you want to check the statute of limitations for each state, you can check them out on the RAINN State Law Database.
Rape and sexual assault are wrong, and you should not have to go through it or live in fear of it. But knowing the appropriate steps to take should it happen could deliver a sense of security and bring the offender to justice. You can take your life back, even if things seem like they have been turned upside down.
Stay strong. You are not alone. There is someone who will listen and help. All you have to do is call.