After what happened, the world may no longer feel safe. Any anger, confusion or shame you might feel is normal. Most importantly, you must remember that what happened was not your fault. You are not alone; there are people who are ready to help.
The hours after sexual assault can make it difficult to know what to do. To help you move forward with recovery, consider taking the following steps:
Prioritize your safety
If you are hurt or in immediate danger, call 911. Prioritizing your safety is crucial right after an incident and it is normal to want company. Consider seeking out the closest safe location where you can stay. This could be a police station, support center or the home of a trusted friend or family member.
Reach out to someone you trust
The thought of being judged could make it difficult to speak about sexual assault. If you need someone to talk to, consider reaching out to someone you know is reliable. This person could be a friend or family member, a doctor, a police or a sexual assault advocate.
Seek medical care
Even without obvious physical injuries, seeking medical care after sexual assault is crucial. Contracting STIs after sexual assault is possible and you may have unnoticeable injuries that only a healthcare professional can verify.
Additionally, you have the option of undergoing a sexual assault forensic exam, also known as a rape kit. This entails collecting DNA evidence that could help strengthen your case against the perpetrator, should you decide to report and pursue legal action.
Understandably, the medical process can be uncomfortable and intimidating to go through alone. You can ask for an advocate, friend or family member to accompany you.
Consider reporting the assault
Reporting sexual assault is a deeply personal decision. You may not feel ready to recount your experience right away. However, the sooner you do so, the better the police can investigate and preserve crucial evidence.
The statute of limitations for sexual assault claims in California varies depending on when the incident happened. Survivors of sexual assaults after January 1, 2019, have ten years from the day it happened or three years from discovering they were injured to file a claim.
Consider talking to a sexual abuse lawyer or crisis hotline to understand your options and make an informed decision. Coming to terms with sexual assault can be very difficult, but it is a crucial step toward healing and taking back control of your life.
If you decide to take legal action, you might benefit from working with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer. Apart from being your advocate, their strategic approach and relentless pursuit of justice could help pave the way for you to move forward.