What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault occurs when someone is coerced or forced into any type of physical or sexual contact. You may know of sexual assault as "rape", "date rape", and/or "acquaintance rape."
Sometimes, a person may feel that they have to "go along with" or "give into" their partner's requests or demands. They may do so to avoid upsetting the person, or because they fear for their own safety if they said no. Sexual assault is NEVER the fault of the victim.
Date Rape and Acquaintance Rape:
When a person has experienced date rape and/or acquaintance rape, they have been coerced into sexual activity by someone they know. The perpetrator is almost always a man, and though both men and women can be raped, women are most often the targets of this violence. It is difficult to know precise statistics on male survivors of sexual assault, as many rape survivors choose not to report attacks. However, men are raped by other men and are also victims of sexual violence. Date and acquaintance rape can happen to or be perpetrated by anyone.
Have you experienced or observed any of the following:
- Not trusting yourself or other people.
- Feeling shock, numbness, disbelief, and/or denial.
- Feeling depressed.
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or thinking about committing suicide.
- Feeling fearful, anxious, nervous, and/or panicked.
- Having problems in relationships or being intimate.
- Blaming yourself, feeling guilty, shameful, and/or embarrassed.
If you were sexually assaulted, and find that you are experiencing any of the above feelings or experiences, you should consider seeking help.
What to do if you have been sexually assaulted:
- Find a safe environment - anywhere away from the attacker. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you for support.
- Preserve evidence of the attack - don't bathe, douche, or brush your teeth. Write down all the details you can recall about the attack & the attacker.
- Get medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.
- To preserve forensic evidence, ask the hospital to conduct a rape kit exam.
- If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected. The sample will need to be analyzed later on by a forensic lab.
- Report the rape to law enforcement authorities. A counselor can provide the information you'll need to understand the process.
- Remember that it wasn't your fault.
- Recognize that healing from rape takes time. Give yourself the time you need. Know that it's never too late to call. Even if the attack happened years ago, there are resources available to help you. Many victims do not realize they need help until months or years later.
Click here to find out more information about how to get help for a sexual assault.