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  • What should I do if I or someone I know was sexually assaulted?

If you or someone you know experienced sexual assault, you’re not alone. There are resources that can help you heal and offer support for both survivors and people close to them.

What should I do if I was raped?

If you’ve been raped or assaulted, you don’t have to go through this alone.

Remember:

  • It’s not your fault. You may be feeling a range of emotions, but whatever you feel, know that what happened wasn’t your fault. It was 100% their fault. Don’t blame yourself for anything you did or didn’t do.

  • Make sure you’re safe. Get to a safe place or call a friend who can help you. If you’re in immediate danger, call 911. If the person who assaulted you is a family member or someone you know, tell someone you trust what happened.

  • Once you’re in a safe place, don’t do anything to change your appearance. You don’t have to decide right away if you’re going to talk with the police about what happened or press charges against the person who assaulted you. But just in case you do, it’s important that the doctor or nurse you visit can collect any evidence that might be on your body. So don’t take a shower or bath or wash off any parts of your body. Also if you can, don’t go to the bathroom, comb your hair, eat, smoke, drink or take any drugs. If you change your clothes, take the clothes you were wearing during the assault to the hospital or police department in a paper bag.

  • Get medical care. The staff at your local Planned Parenthood health center can help you figure out your options:

    • If you have injuries, or want to have a rape kit done to collect evidence in case you decide to file charges someday, you should go to the hospital right away.

    • If you’re worried about having been exposed to HIV, you can take a medicine called PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) which can help prevent getting HIV after being exposed. You need to start this treatment within 72 hours of being exposed.

    • If there’s a chance you could be pregnant, consider taking the morning-after pill, also known as emergency contraception. You need to take it within 5 days after unprotected sex.

    • If you’re worried about STDs, it’s a good idea to get tested. Most people don’t show any symptoms, so even if you don’t have any signs of an STD, testing is important.

  • Find support. Dealing with the aftermath of rape or sexual assault can be overwhelming. But you’re not alone. It may help to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor.

  • Seek out resources. The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a 24-hour, 7-day a week support line you can reach over the phone or by online chat.

  • Think about talking to the police. Sexual assault is a crime and you have the right to report it to the police and press charges against the person who assaulted you — if you want to. You can call the police yourself, or have a rape crisis counselor or someone you trust do it for you. The police will come and ask you questions, and they’ll also talk to you about whether or not you want to press charges. Police can also help get you to a doctor or nurse for an exam as soon as possible. The decision to call the police or not is yours to make, and not everyone decides calling the police is right for them.

The only time this isn’t true is if you are a minor (younger than the age of consent in your state) and you tell someone like a teacher, counselor, or doctor who is a mandated reporter. This means that they have to call the police no matter if you want them to or not, according to laws that protect minors.

How can I support someone who was raped?

Rape or sexual assault can be a traumatic, life-changing event. Sadly, chances are that you or someone close to you will experience it during the course of your life. Here are some tips for supporting someone who tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted or raped.

  • Listen. Believe them. Remind them that they’re not alone. Don’t judge or blame them for what happened. Remember that the blame is on the person who commits the assault, and not on the victim.

  • Encourage them to get help. Encourage them to go to the hospital or a nearby Planned Parenthood health center for medical attention ASAP. You can offer to drive them or go with them. And for the long term, talking with a licensed counselor or therapist about what happened, or joining a community support group can help your friend process what happened and heal. Your nearest Planned Parenthood health center can connect you with services in your area.

  • Don’t pressure them. It’s up to your friend to decide if they want to report the assault to the police or authorities. If they do decide to report it, you can help by offering to be there with them.

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