What to do after sexual assaults isn’t common knowledge. You would think it’s as simple as just calling the cops and filing a report but it isn’t. Stories about police officers laughing at rape victims or treating them as the criminal often prevent victims from reporting the crime to the authorities. Knowing what to do can help you build a strong case with strong evidence if you decide to prosecute or press charges. Even though victims are not legally required to file a police report, doing so can help other victims even if nothing further is pursued.
Surviving rape comes with a lot of emotional conflict and trauma that people don’t like to talk about. Victims often feel guilt for an occurrence that was completely out of their control. First of all, realise that you did not consent to this regardless of your clothing, whereabouts, inebriation, gender, flirting, or anything else people may try to tell you. Someone has violated you without consent. Whatever decision you made in the moment, it was the right decision because you’re alive to read this right now. Many victims do not survive the ordeal and fighting or struggling actually lowers your chances of living through it. Even if you “complied” under threats to your wellbeing and life, you did not consent. You are in no way responsible for the actions of others under any circumstances.
First, you need to get to a hospital to obtain a rape kit. Since the Rape Survivor’s Bill of Rights was passed your rape kit will be free. Do not remove any clothing you were wearing. If you already have, collect them in a paper or plastic bag and take them with you. Do not shower, brush your teeth, wash your hands, or alter the current state of your body in any way. Get to the nearest emergency room. Rape victims take priority next to life threatening injuries so you should have to wait too long. You will be provided with antibiotics, STD tests, as well as Plan B if you would like it. The procedure will take about an hour and a half. Your hair will be combed and your nails scraped. Anal and vaginal swabs will be taken. Your clothes will be collected. A sample of your pubic hair will be taken as well. It isn’t going to be a pleasant experience but it is necessary to ensure you have a strong case if you decide to press charges. You are allowed to request a nurse of the gender you’re most comfortable with to collect the rape kit.
Go to the police department and file a report. Remember to bring the paperwork you received from the hospital. It should include information for the police department so they can pick up your kit. The police are more likely to take you seriously if you’ve already had your rape kit done. Make sure to give everything you can remember in your statement. If you remember details at a later date you can add those to the report so don’t stress if you can’t remember some things. You don’t have to press charges or prosecute if you’ve filed a report. Your report will help other victims even if you decide not to pursue anything further.
Rest. You’ve just been through an extremely traumatic experience. You will feel a wide range of conflicting emotions. This is normal and there are resources out there that might be helpful to you. It’s going to take some time to heal. You won’t feel well for a while. That’s ok. Try to get back to normal activities. Do what you need to deal to heal. Everyone is different and heals in different ways.
Most importantly, remind yourself as much as you need to that you are not at fault. No matter what anyone says. No matter what you were wearing or doing. Even if you were forced to say yes that does not mean you consented. You did what you had to do to preserve your life. Now share this far and wide so other victims will have a better idea of what to do.
You’re brave. You’re strong. You are not alone.