Go to a safe place. This is not the time to be alone. At the very least you need emotional support. If there is no one to talk to, then call someone you can talk to, no matter how late it is. (See places where you can get help.)
Get medical attention. As soon as possible, go to the emergency department of the nearest hospital to be examined and treated for any injuries, sexually transmitted infections, and emergency contraception. Going to the hospital does not mean you have to talk to law enforcement. If you do decide to report to the police, physical specimens collected soon after the rape will be valuable evidence.
DO NOT SHOWER OR WASH YOURSELF
DO NOT EAT, DRINK, OR SMOKE
TRY NOT TO USE THE BATHROOM
If you decide to report, good “evidence collection” is key to prosecuting. If you do not want to file charges, you may still go to the Emergency Room and receive medical care. If you do not know whether you want to file charges yet, you may go as if you were filing a report. You can talk to the police and give all the information you have about the assault, but withhold your name and other personal information. This “Blind Report” will not be investigated until you call the police to let them know you wish to continue the case.
Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling. Make space for healing. You have been through a trauma and need to make space for your own emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual healing. You may be overwhelmed by many different emotions – fear, grief, guilt, shame, rage. It is important to seek support. There are many different options, such as talking with an advocate at Durham Crisis Response Center, joining a survivors group (offered at Durham Crisis Response Center) or talking with a friend. People who receive counseling tend to recover from their experiences faster and with fewer lasting effects than those who get no help. Recovery from rape doesn’t mean that it’s as if the rape never happened. Recovery does mean that, over time, the survivor is not thinking about the rape-their emotions are not dominated by it. The survivor is able to envision a future, to set goals and work to achieve them. Their life moves forward.
Do not blame yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. You need to be assured that you are not to blame for the rape. Regardless of what you were doing, who you were with, where you were, or what time it was, there is never an excuse to accept rape as a consequence. Even if you believe you were naïve, not cautious, or even foolish, it is not your fault. Your behavior did not cause the rape; the rapist caused the rape. What ever you did to survive was exactly the right thing to do.
If you are unsure what you want to do after experiencing a sexual assault, you can call our 24-hour confidential and free help line in English and in Spanish: