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What to do if you have been sexually assaulted

People who have been sexually assaulted react in many different ways — there is no right or wrong reaction. Listed here are some important things to consider. Even if your assault happened days, weeks, months or years ago, it is never too late — or less important — for you to seek help and start your healing process.

  • Get to a safe place as soon as you can. If the assailant poses an immediate danger to you or anyone else, alert the police as soon as possible.
  • Once you are safe, contact someone you trust to be with you for support. This could be a friend, family member, a resident assistant or even a specially trained sexual assault advocate.
  • Try to preserve all physical evidence, even if you don’t know if you want to report the assault or press charges.

    — Do not eat, drink, bathe, shower, wash your hands, use the toilet or brush your teeth.

    — Don’t change your clothes if possible, but if you need to change, put all of the clothes you were wearing in a paper bag and bring them with you to your medical exam.

    — Take a minute to write down everything you remember about the assault, including a description of the assailant.
  • You should seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you don’t have any apparent injuries. For more on what to expect during a post-sexual assault exam, click here.
  • Contact the police to report the assault. Reporting doesn’t mean you have to press charges. For more on what to expect while filing a police report, click here.
  • Seek emotional support to help sort out your feelings about the assault.