The severity of trauma caused by sexual assault is hard to overstate but luckily for victims, there is a way to leave that nightmare behind and get back to normal life. People do not have magical powers to predict when, where, and by whom they will be attacked. Sexual assaults happen everywhere in the world and there is no standard profile either of a victim or an attacker, they are of different ages, education, and levels of income.
If you read this article, chances are you are looking for help because you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted. If so, it is very important to be aware of 7 crucial things that need to be done immediately after the incident to step on the path towards mental and physical recovery from the very outset.
Make Sure You Are Safe
The majority of victims experience shock and a complete break from reality, being overwhelmed by what has just happened. However, it is very important to ensure your own safety. If the place you are in is not safe, or you are not feeling safe due to some other reasons, think of a person you can call to ask for support. Of course, it is not easy to tell even the closest friend or your parents about your dramatic experience, but you do not have to go into the details right now. Your safety is a priority.
Consider Your Legal Options
Even though prosecuting a sex offender might not be the first thing to cross your mind, it is of utmost importance to consider your legal options as soon as you can. First, you will need to provide certain evidence of the assault through a special forensic test, meaning it should be done very quickly. Secondly, to be able to move forward with eventual prosecution, you have to report the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours. Jeb Butler from Butler Law Firm with extensive experience in helping victims of rape and sexual assault fight back explain that standing up to a sexual offender takes a lot of bravery and is hard for every victim but doing so helps them return confidence, power, and a sense of security. Indeed, many victims of sex assault admit that seeking justice helped them to get back on track and live a full life.
Remember That It Was Not Your Fault
Whatever the circumstances of what happened, remember that it was not your fault. Don’t ever start questioning yourself whether you in some way sent the attacker “wrong” or misleading signs. This is not the right way to cope with the trauma because it’s the dead end. The only truth is you didn’t want it to happen but unfortunately, it has just happened and this is not okay, not all right, not good.
Call The National Sexual Assault Hotline
If you are not ready to speak with your family or friend but desperately need advice or help, do not hesitate to call the National Sexual Assault Hotline to share your fears and emotions with a well-trained staff member who also will give you comprehensive info on what you should do next.
Seek Medical Attention
While many victims are reluctant to seek medical attention in the first several hours after a sexual assault, it is one of the must-do things because you can have some injuries that you still can’t see or feel. In addition to that, the timeframe for collecting bodily forensic evidence is usually set at 72 hours. Make sure you do not take the show, use the restroom, or comb your hair prior to visiting a health service provider. Also, do not change your clothes.
Have A Sexual Assault Forensic Exam
Often called a rape kit, this exam is mandatory if you plan to report the crime and bring to justice your assaulter. Every lawyer will tell you that you need to go through this special forensic exam to get a strong case against the perp. There is nothing to be afraid of, this exam is performed by specially educated personnel, and they will collect DNA evidence to confirm the identity of the offender.
Take Your Time
You will need a certain time to feel again like yourself but remember you don’t have any obligations to go out, meet friends, or chat with colleagues. Listen to your heart and just move forward at your comfortable pace.
If you or your loved one have been sexually assaulted, consider taking these seven steps to minimize a negative effect of an assault and speeding up both physical and mental recovery.
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