What should I do if I experience sexual violence?
- Get to a safe place. After a traumatic experience, it is important to find a place where you feel safe and comfortable. This could
be your home, dorm, friend’s room, hospital, or police station.
- Consider talking to someone you trust. This could be a friend, roommate, instructor, resident assistant, athletic coach, counselor, etc.
- Consider seeking medical attention, if necessary. A medical provider can offer treatment for physical injuries (you may have injuries that you cannot see or feel), emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy, and testing/treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
A Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam is a forensic exam conducted by a trained medical professional for the purpose of providing
medical care and collecting and preserving evidence of a sexual assault. Even if you are unsure if you would like to make a police report, getting a SART exam
allows you to preserve evidence until you make this decision. Exams must be performed within 5 days of the assault. If you are considering a SART
exam, try to avoid bathing/showering, brushing your teeth, changing or washing your clothes, urinating, eating, drinking etc., as these can destroy evidence. However, if you have done any of these things, evidence can still be collected. If you have
changed your clothes, bring the clothes that you were wearing at the time in a paper bag (not a plastic bag) to the hospital. SART exams are provided free of charge at local hospitals.
- Remember that what happened was not your fault. It is common for people who experience sexual violence to wonder what they could have
done to prevent it. However, it is important to keep in mind that the perpetrator
is the one who chose to act in a violent way, and thus is the only one responsible
for their actions.
- Take time to take care of yourself. It can be tempting to try to push the trauma out of your mind and pretend that it
didn’t happen. While it can be helpful to find ways of distracting yourself in the
short term, it can become problematic if trying to avoid thinking about the trauma
becomes your main coping mechanism. Engage in activities that you enjoy or that make
you feel better, even if for brief amounts of time. This can include engaging in
an enjoyable activity, getting coffee with a friend, etc.
- Consider reaching out for professional psychological assistance. Speaking with a professional who is trained in the treatment of trauma can help to
facilitate healing and process your reactions to the trauma.