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WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY
While this may be the last thing on your mind, preserving any physical evidence will help with your case. Even if you're not sure if you're going to follow through on a report the assault to the police, it's a good idea to observe the following guidelines until you decide:
Remember: it was not your fault.
No matter what you did or didn't do, you didn't ask or deserve to be raped or sexually assaulted
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED
The first and most important thing you can do is listen without blaming. The survivor is probably nervous to talk about what has happened and has chosen you as a person that can be trusted. You don't really have to say anything special; you just need to listen to as much as they want to say, express to them how much you love and care for them, tell them that you are honored that they would come to you, and, most importantly, tell them that they are not to blame.
Once a survivor starts sharing, they may just tell a little, or they may tell a lot; it depends on many factors. Your role is just to listen without judgment.
If the survivor shares something very graphic that is hard to listen to, you may share your feelings with them; however, it is VERY IMPORTANT that they know that you are just shocked and saddened by the horror of what they had to endure. Let them know that they have not changed in your eyes. If they wish to report the assault to the police, they can just call 911 or their local police department who will guide them from there.
A sexual assault exam (also known as a forensic exam) may be required. The police may decide that a medical exam is needed to collect evidence. If so, they will call the Sexual Assault Emergency Response Team (SART) and drive the survivor to a specially equipped hospital where an advocate from the local rape crisis center and a sexual assault nurse examiner will be waiting.
If the survivor doesn't know whether to report the assault or not, you can discuss their options with them, refer them to What to do if you have been assaulted, or call our 24HR Hotline at (818) 886-0453 or (661) 253-0258.
Encourage them to make their own decision whether to report or not; don't make the decision for them.
If the survivor chooses not to report, that is okay. Since the survivor is the person who will have to go through the sexual assault exam and possibly testify and recount the event with no guarantee of the outcome, it is important that they choose this option themselves.
It is important that the survivor receive medical attention. Note that all medical providers are mandated reporters and will call law enforcement if they have knowledge of or suspect sexual assault; it is important that the survivor know this before making an appointment. They may choose to go to their family physician, Planned Parenthood, or a local family planning clinic.
Should the survivor go to counseling? Again, this is an individual decision that only the survivor can make. You may want to encourage them to try it out, as it can help reduce symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although counseling is not for everyone, most people find it beneficial.
Should you go to counseling? This is an option available to you and may be quite helpful. Counseling at VTCC can be arranged by calling our 24HR Hotline at (818) 886-0453 or (661) 253-0258.