Finding An Advocate

After Sexual Assault: What Should You Do Next?

The reality of sexual assault is heartbreaking, and the stress and trauma it brings can be devastating. The important thing to remember is that you are not in any way responsible for the perpetrator's behavior, and should not feel guilty but do everything possible to get help and ensure the perpetrator is punished.

The steps you take right after the assault can greatly determine if a successful case can be built against the perpetrator, so it is important to keep calm, gather evidence and seek treatment. Here is a basic guide of how to proceed if you have just been sexually assaulted.

1. Save evidence.

Ideally, you should be able to contact the police immediately after the incident, so that they can collect your statement and begin processing the crime scene. In the direct aftermath of the assault, make sure to get a safe place first before contacting the authorities. Do not alter the crime scene in any way by trying to clean it up, as you could destroy valuable evidence in the process. You should also preserve any evidence on you by putting your clothes safely in a plastic bag where they are safe from the elements, so that any DNA evidence can be later harvested from them.

If you can, take photos of the scene as well as photos of any bodily injuries you have, as they can be used as evidence if the case gets to trial. If you suspect the assault was drug facilitated, take a sample of what you had to drink. Do not bathe, douche, shower or destroy your clothing before the police come or before you are examined by a doctor.

2. Get medical help.

Seeking medical assistance as soon as possible is crucial, as physical evidence can easily get lost within days of the assault. In most cases, the police will take you to a medical facility for treatment after you have reported the assault.

At the hospital, a specialized sexual assault nurse examiner may be assigned to you to perform vital tasks such checking you for internal injuries and bruises, collecting DNA evidence that would help identify the perpetrator such as hair samples, blood or semen, and offering emotional support and counseling. A urine sample may also be taken to help detect the presence of drugs in your system.

The period right after being sexually assaulted can be confusing and exhausting, which is why you need a sexual assault lawyer to help you through the evidence gathering process, identifying the perpetrator and the eventual court process. For more information, go to