Immediate Steps You Should Take Following a Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is any form of coerced sexual contact without consent, including rape, attempted rape, molestation, fondling, and any other unwanted sexual contact or behavior. Sexual assault is a heinous crime and perpetrators should be held legally accountable for their offenses, but most perpetrators of sexual assault will not spend any time in jail or prison. In fact, according to statistics from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), out of every 1,000 perpetrators of rape, 994 will not face any jail time.
Additionally, most rapes and acts of sexual violence are not reported to the police, often because of the fear and shame victims routinely face. After the trauma of sexual assault, many victims understandably do not want to experience the difficult process of reporting a sexual assault and taking the necessary measures that come with it. Unfortunately, in these cases, immediacy of action is your best option if you want to bring your abuser to justice or if you think you may want to pursue legal action later. Even if you do not want to press charges, there are measures you can take for the sake of your health. Some steps you should take following a sexual assault include:
- Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: Following an assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) and a trained counselor will help you take the steps you need and provide you with comfort, information, and resources to help. This service is an especially helpful one for victims who are not sure what to do next. Additionally, the hotline can determine which emergency room nearest you has the resources to help victims of sexual assault and collect evidence.
- Write down the details of the assault: Writing down the details of your assault may seem impossible, especially after the trauma you endured, but it is a tool to help the police get necessary information about the crime, such as the circumstances surrounding the assault and descriptions that may help identify your abuser.
- Save anything that may have your abuser’s DNA: As difficult as it is to not shower or even change clothes after an assault, there may be DNA evidence on your person or clothes that could help prosecute your abuser if you decide to press charges. Hospitals can perform sexual assault forensic exams to save DNA from your abuser that may be of use in criminal or civil court cases. Even if you get a forensic exam, you do not have to make the decision whether or not to press charges in that moment. Even so, the evidence will be there if you later choose to press charges.
- Go to an emergency room: Whether or not you later decide to press charges, you should go to an emergency room to receive treatment for any injuries you may have sustained and so that you can receive medication to prevent serious STIs and pregnancy. After an assault, you may not want to go anywhere or do anything, but for the sake of your health, it is best to take this measure as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual assault, there is help for your situation. Sexual assaults are emotionally and physically devastating crimes that may leave victims feeling helpless. You do not have to go through this alone, and the qualified and compassionate sexual assault attorneys at McCutchen & Sexton – The Law Firm are passionate about helping victims in any way we can and ensuring our clients receive the justice they deserve. If you want to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys, or if you have any questions about pursuing legal or financial justice for sexual assault, please contact us at (479) 783-0036.