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Tips for Staying Safe

If You Have Been Raped

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You could destroy evidence which may be needed later.



Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact or attention. It is an assault which can be caused by any force either physical or non-physical. The force can take the form of threats, bribes, manipulation, or violence. It can be verbal, visual, audio, vaginal, anal, oral, or any other form which forces an individual to participate in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape in the forms of date and acquaintance rape, marital rape, and stranger rape. It also includes child molestation, voyeurism, exhibitionism, incest, and sexual harassment. Sexual assault can be committed by adults, children, males, females, strangers friends, dates, acquaintances or relatives. Anyone can be sexually assaulted, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, economic, ethnic or religious heritage.

What to Do If It Happens to You
  1. Try to go to a safe place.
  2. If you can, call someone you trust like a friend or a member of your family. You may call a rape crisis counselor or have someone call one for you.
  3. It is important to get medical attention as soon as possible. This is not only important in case of injury, but also to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. In many states throughout the U.S., a standardized "rape kit" examination may be performed in case of possible future criminal prosecution. The rape kit is sealed and submitted to the police crime lab. Results are only used in case of prosecution. No matter what your decision about prosecuting the offender, a rape kit is highly recommended.
  4. Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body. Do not change clothes if possible. Do not touch or change anything at the scene of the assault. This insures evidence preservation in case of future criminal prosecution.
  5. In most states, but depending on where you live it could be different, a sexual assault survivor has three options when filing a police report: a report can be filed with the intent of prosecuting the offender, a report can be filed but without the intent of prosecuting, or a third party report can be filed where the survivor remains anonymous (the survivor's name is withheld from the report) and no prosecution takes place. It is the survivor's right to change their mind at any time during the judicial process.
  6. Because sexual assault is a crime of violence, emotions such as shock, anger, shame, guilt, and fear or a combination of those feelings are normal. It is important to get counseling from a trusted and professional counselor and/or to join a support group. No one should have to face the trauma of sexual assault alone.

Sexual Assault is not your fault.

If your sexual assault was in the past, what should you do?

  1. Again, it depends on what state you live in and how the laws work there. You need to check with your local or state police departments or district attorney's office to see what can be done.

    In some states, if an assault has taken place within the past six years and the survivor was over 18 years of age when the assault took place, criminal charges may still be brought against the offender. If the offense occurred before the survivor was 18 years of age, charges may be brought until the survivor is either 21 years of age or six years after the most recent assault (whichever is later). If the survivor wishes to prosecute, charges should be filed with a law enforcement agency which will then present the information to the prosecuting attorney's office.
  2. If you are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (long-term psychological, emotional and/or physical symptoms due to the stress caused by the assault), counseling and support groups may be of help.

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