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IF YOU HAVE BEEN RAPED - WHAT TO DO AND HOW YOU MIGHT FEEL
Baby Don't Cry (Keep Ya Head Up) by Tupac Shakur
What To Do If You Are Raped
Seek out a friend. This is not the time to be alone. At the very least, you need emotional support. If there is no one to go to, then call someone you can talk to, no matter how late it is. There are also victims’ advocates available to assist you.
Get medical attention. Do not shower or clean yourself first. As soon as possible, go to a hospital or school health center to be examined and treated for possible venereal disease. You may have internal injuries which you are not aware of. If you decide to press charges, physical specimens collected soon after the rape will be valuable evidence.
Report the attack whether or not you plan to file charges.
(Reporting a rape does not commit you to filing charges. You can make that decision later.) Have someone go with you. You can go the next day, but the sooner the better. Rarely do date rapists attack one woman only; they get away with it and so they continue to do it. If you turn him in, you may break that pattern and save someone else from being attacked. Reporting also allows the university to keep accurate records and to add to existing services. Staff at The Women’s Center, Counseling & Psychological Services, University Health Services, and University Police are prepared to assist in any way you need.
Consider whether you want to file charges with the police and/or with the campus authorities if the man is a student. If you do decide to press charges, the chances of conviction with acquaintance rape are low, although police, judges, and schools are increasingly more sympathetic than in the past. Some states now have rape shield laws, so that the past sexual behavior of a woman cannot be brought up.
Get help and support, such as counseling. At the very least, call a rape or crisis hotline. Your school counseling center, student health center, or local sexual assault center also may be of help. You have been through a trauma and need help to deal with the situation and with your feelings. Women who get counseling get over their experiences faster and with fewer lasting effects than those who get no help. Staff at The Women’s Center or Counseling & Psychological Services are available to help you and to direct you to special services that are available in your community.
Do not blame yourself. Many people assume that the man is expected to ask for sex and the woman is responsible for giving permission for sex. Thus the woman may feel it is her fault for not having said "no" more clearly or for having trusted the man in the first place. Some men and women may also blame the victim and offer little or no sympathy. Men may believe you must have somehow "led on" the rapist; some women may suggest you either used poor judgment or have a bad reputation, so it is your own fault. In both cases, they are trying to distance themselves from what happened. If you find that you are being blamed for what happened, it is helpful to go to a counseling center, a rape crisis center, or call a hotline. You need to be reassured that you are not to blame; the rapist is. Even if your body responded sexually to the rapist, it does not mean you "enjoyed" the experience or that it is your fault. Even if you believe you were naive, not cautious, or even foolish, it is not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape.
FEELINGS YOU MAY HAVE AFTER A SEXUAL ASSAULT
- Alone "Am I the only one?
- "Set Apart "This only happens to bad people, right?"
- Hopeless "I can't go on anymore"
- Upset, Distressed "I cry all of the time"
- Numb "I haven't been able to cry"
- Shocked "How could this happen to me?"
- Anxious, Nervous "I can't eat or sleep"
- Guilty "What did I do or say the bring this on?"
- Fearful "I don't dare go out alone at night anymore. When will I be able to sleep with the lights off?"
- Dirty "I just want to wash him off me"
- Depressed "Nothing interests me anymore"
- Helpless "I don't feel confident making decisions"
- Panicky "My heart races constantly"
- Weak "He made me feel so small inside"
- Angry "I am so mad. He took something from me and he had no right."
Vindictive "I want him to pay what what he did"
- Ashamed "What if people find out"
- Confused "Why did this happen to me?"
All of these feelings are normal and understandable.