What to Do if You Think Someone Sexually Assaulted You

If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you’re not alone. Help is available. There are both national and local resources available to help you for free. You do not have to suffer in silence while your perpetrator goes through life without any consequences. Use these resources to get the protection and support you need, justice you deserve, and fair financial compensation for this heinous crime in California.

Get to Safety

First, get to safety. Your personal safety is paramount. If you are experiencing an emergency or are in fear of imminent harm from the person who assaulted you, call 911. Go to a safe location where you won’t be alone, such as a friend or family member’s house, a hospital, or a police station.

Know That It’s Not Your Fault

You are going through a lot emotionally if you think someone sexually assaulted you. Sexual assault is extremely traumatic. It is important to know that it was not your fault, you are not to blame, and you didn’t do anything wrong. You are the victim of a crime that was 100 percent the perpetrator’s fault. This is true even if you were romantically or intimately involved with the offender.

Tell Someone

Don’t keep the crime to yourself. Staying quiet serves no one except for the person who assaulted you. While it can be difficult to come forward, telling people whom you trust – as well as the authorities – is the best way to hold the assailant accountable. Speaking out against sexual assault can also be cathartic for emotional purposes and prevent the perpetrator from targeting others in the future.

File a Police Report

Write down everything you can remember about the incident while the details are still fresh and clear in your mind. Although this can be painful, it is important to create a record of what happened. If the assailant was a stranger, include a detailed description of what he or she looked like to improve the chances of the cops making a positive identification. Report the incident to the police (call 911 in an emergency or your local non-emergency number) to file a report. It is up to you whether or not you wish to press charges, but a report should be filed to document the incident.

Go to a Clinic or Hospital Within 72 Hours

This is often the most difficult step after experiencing a sexual assault or trauma, but it is also one of the most important. Do your best not to change your clothes, shower or clean yourself up after the assault. Instead, go directly to a hospital or clinic for medical care and a sexual assault forensic exam. It is important to do this within at least 48 to 72 hours so that a doctor can collect any available DNA evidence from the perpetrator.

Find Emotional Support

Once you’ve reported the crime and done everything you can to document the incident, focus on healing. What you went through is a serious trauma. It is completely normal to experience overwhelming thoughts, feelings and emotions as a survivor. You may be experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, such as fear, flashbacks or nightmares. You may also be suffering from depression or anxiety.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical well-being after being sexually assaulted. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to get the help that you need. Find emotional support by talking to your loved ones, getting professional help from a counselor or psychiatrist, or joining a sexual assault support group. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can use a hotline such as the RAINN Crisis Center (800-656-HOPE) for advice, support and information.

Consult With a Los Angeles Sexual Assault Lawyer

When you’re ready, contact a sexual assault attorney to discuss your legal rights and options for filing a civil lawsuit. Bringing a lawsuit against the individual and/or the institution that allowed you to be assaulted can deliver justice, accountability and closure. For a free consultation with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer in Los Angeles who will compassionately guide you through this process, contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi at (855) 943-0864 today.