HealthSheets™


Sexual Assault (Rape)

A sexual assault changes your life. Your body may heal quickly. But the emotional scars may last much longer. There is no easy way to recover from an assault. But getting the medical care and support you need is a good place to start.

Who is at risk for sexual assault?

No one is immune from sexual assault. Women, children, teens, older adults, and men of any age are at risk. Keep in mind that sexual assault is never your fault. Nothing you did caused it to happen. In many cases, the person who attacked you is someone you know or are related to. This is still a crime.

When to go to the emergency room (ER)

It can be very hard to tell others about a sexual assault. But it's important to seek medical and emotional care after an attack. A hospital emergency room is the best place to go for treatment. Most ER staff receive special training in caring for sexual assault victims. They can offer emotional as well as medical support. And they can answer any questions you may have. Think about bringing a friend or family member with you. The presence of someone you know can help you feel safer. Many hospitals also have counselors who can guide you through the exam.

After an assault

It is extremely difficult, but try not to clean any part of your body after the assault. This means don't shower, wash your hands, change clothes, clean your teeth, brush your hair, or use the bathroom before going to the hospital. This helps preserve signs of the assault. It can make it easier to get evidence to prosecute your attacker.

National support services

For support services after a sexual assault, contact:

  • Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: www.rainn.org 800-656-4673 (HOPE)

  • National Center for Victims of Crime: www.victimsofcrime.org

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