Sexual assault is a crime that many people don’t like to think about, but should be in the back of your mind. Many refuse to think that it will happen to them until it does. The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that one in every six women will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape during their lifetime. Those numbers make it an all too common issue that is quite frightening. There’s help available for sexual assault victims in California and all across the country. It doesn’t matter if you were a victim 30 years ago or 30 seconds ago; there are resources, programs, and groups out there looking to help victims of all ages and backgrounds. Here are some important steps to take if you are the victim of sexual assault.
Seek medical evaluation immediately
In the moments immediately following the assault it’s important to get to a safe place, evaluate your surroundings, and call 911. If you are not injured badly and want to take yourself to the emergency room, do so. Just be sure to take care of your health and wellbeing as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t sure about involving the police, it’s still a good idea to be medically evaluated for any injuries.
Keep clothes on and don’t use the bathroom
It’s a good idea to keep the same clothes on you were wearing when assaulted and try to avoid using the bathroom. The exam performed can be stopped at any point if you begin to feel uncomfortable, but keeping on the same clothes will help any investigation should you decide to get the police involved.
Seek support from a trusted source
Don’t feel hesitant to reach out to a trusted source for support as soon as possible. It can be while in the back of the ambulance, sitting in the emergency room, or well after you’ve returned home. Support is necessary in a time such as this and is best found in close friends and family members.
Give yourself a sense of security
This is easier said than done, but try to give yourself a sense of security following the attack. This could include replacing all the locks on your doors at home, taking time off from work, hiring a babysitter to watch your children and even only going out in large groups.
Talk to a counselor
Schedule an appointment with a counselor who is trained to handle sexual assault cases. You very well could receive excellent support and advice from family and friends, even from people close to you who have also been victims of sexual assault, but the best advice will come from a licensed sexual assault counselor.
Reconsider reporting the assault
If you did not go through the rape exam in the hospital the night of the attack or didn’t report the assault, reconsider these options. Many states have windows of 96 hours or more to obtain evidence when it comes to sexual assault cases.
Understand the risks of assault
Victims of sexual assault are at higher risk of suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, issues with drug abuse, alcoholism and eating disorders. Seek out help from a qualified counselor if you feel any emotional issues.
Recovery is not linear
Recovering from sexual assault, both physically and emotionally, will not be a linear process. There will be twists, turns, and bumps in the road. Learn to accept these and how to handle the bumps in the road by eating well, exercising, reading, meditating, taking part in yoga and doing anything else that makes you happy.
Everyone heals differently
The possibility of having to confront your trauma at some point down the road is real. This could be done through intense therapy, art, writing or any other medium that forces you to express yourself and your feelings.
It’s important to note that everyone heals differently. Much like grief, everyone has a different process and timetable when it comes to healing from a traumatic wound such as sexual assault. Your methods are not wrong and shouldn’t looked at as such by friends or family.
If you are the victim of sexual assault in Los Angeles, seek medical care immediately and report the incident to the police. You should then consider contacting an experienced attorney from the team of Taylor & Ring at 310-776-6390 or complete the contact form on our website.