Survivor Support

What to Do Immediately if You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

Then call 911 or the police. Police departments have personnel who are trained to help survivors of sexual violence.

You also can call a crisis center or a hotline to talk with a counselor. One 24/7 option, for all genders, is the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) National Sexual Assault Hotline on the web, or at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Through their website or telephone hotline, RAINN will provide confidential referrals to local sexual assault service providers or a victim advocate. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal.

It is important to get counseling from a trusted professional. If privacy is a concern and/or you’re under 18, you’re not required to give your last name, and you can block your phone or clear your online history. You can also speak in hypotheticals: “This happened to a friend of mine.”

You do not have to report to the police if you collect evidence. But if you do, you have more options in the future. Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not brush your teeth. Do not change clothes if possible, so the hospital nurse can collect evidence. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault. It is important to collect evidence, even if you don’t believe you will prosecute the assailant.

Go to your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. You need to be examined, treated for any injuries, and checked for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy and offered preventative medicine. The nurse or doctor will collect evidence the attacker may have left behind.

Ask the hospital staff to connect you with the nearest rape crisis center. Many times, a crisis center can support you while in the hospital, help you make choices about reporting the attack, and help you find counseling and support groups. If you decide to file a police report, you or the hospital staff can call the police from the emergency room.

You can also call these helplines and visit these sites for support and resources:

“In the aftermath of a sexual assault or rape, survivors can face extremely difficult and painful emotions and experiences. Every survivor responds to traumatic events in their own way. The effects of the trauma can be short-term or last long after the sexual assault or rape.”
Joyful Heart Foundation
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