Follow these steps if you have been sexually assaulted:
– Tell someone: The police, a friend, a rape crisis center, a counselor. Don’t isolate yourself, don’t feel guilty and don’t just try to ignore it. Rape whether by a stranger or someone you know is a violation of your body and your trust.
– Preserve evidence: Do not shower, wash, douche, brush your teeth, scrub your hands or change clothes, even though “getting clean” is a common first reaction. Wait for a rape kit to be done before you clean up, and you will have protected vital evidence in case you later decide to press charges.
– Get medical attention: A rape kit can be done, collecting evidence of sexual assault and clues to identify the rapist. You also may have internal injuries and/or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS or an unwanted pregnancy. Don’t live with the fear of the unknown. (Advice: Take a change of clothes and undergarments with you to the hospital; your original clothes are likely to be examined and kept as evidence.)
– Report the crime to the police: Reporting the crime doesn’t mean you must press charges. It does allow the police to keep accurate records for future reference, and it will provide the necessary evidence and information needed if you later decide to press charges.
– Make a record: As soon as possible, write as much as you can remember about your attack and the circumstances.
– Talk to an expert: Get counseling to help you deal with your feelings. Remember that it is not your fault.
– Don’t blame yourself: Understand that your body’s normal response to stimuli doesn’t excuse a rape. Even males can be raped; a man’s body can respond to stimuli and he may ejaculate, just as a woman may experience an orgasm during an assault. This is just the body’s purely physical response to touch or fear; that doesn’t mean you invited, encouraged or liked the sexual assault. (When you slice an onion, you cry; that doesn’t necessarily mean you are sad. It’s just the body’s response to that stimulus.)
Sources: SAFE Inc. in Tupelo and interviews with two date/acquaintance rape survivors