We can talk about sexual violence when a person is forced into any sexual act against his or her will. There are many types of sexual violence – from sexual harassment to sexual assault and rape. If you had to experience any kind of sexual abuse, it is important that you tell someone about it. You need to tell someone you trust about this, be it someone close or an appropriate specialist.
Sexual Abuse: What to Do, Where to Go?
The victim is not guilty of violence and does not “deserve” violence – regardless of where she was, what she did there, what she was wearing, what she said, whether she was drunk. Responsibility for sexual abuse always rests with the perpetrator, not the victim.
If rape or sexual assault has occurred recently:
- Go where you will be safe;
- In a situation of danger, call 112;
- Don’t wash and don’t change clothes. Regardless of where you decide to go first – to a female doctor or to the police – keep in mind that it is very important to collect evidence. For this, you should not wash before that and do not change clothes. Although you probably have such a desire. Going to the hospital or the police, take your clothes with you. If you have already changed your clothes, put the removed clothing, including underwear, in a paper bag, do not wash it or throw it away;
- Consult a doctor (even if there is no visible damage). As soon as possible, contact a female doctor or emergency department to have you examined and document all injuries. The effectiveness of the help of doctors (or police officers) is higher if you contact then quickly (preferably within the first days after the incident). In addition to collecting evidence, a female doctor will help you prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, will take the necessary tests, prescribe treatment and call for the next appointment. If you have injuries in need of treatment, you can immediately contact the emergency department (this way you can also be examined by a female doctor);
- Be sure to tell the doctor what happened to you. Even if the damage is not too serious, it is important to quickly fix it. To prevent a possible pregnancy, you need to take an SOS contraception pill within 72 hours;
- Report to the police. The decision whether to give an official move to the incident, to do it immediately or later (even after years) is up to you. By reporting the incident to the police, you are helping to ensure that no one becomes a new victim of the same person. If you decide to report the incident to the police / authorities, then take one of your friends or relatives with you, they will support you. Organizing assistance to victims and shelters for women can also help you with the official initiation of proceedings. At first, it may seem to you that you do not want to start an official case, but perhaps this desire will appear later. So do not throw away the clothes that were on you at the time of the attack, do not wash it, just fold it in a dry and clean paper bag and remove it from your eyes. Important: sexual abuse of a child must be reported to the police;
- Seek support from loved ones. Any sexual abuse is very traumatic for the victim and it may take a long time to recover. Feelings such as self-incrimination, fear, and shame often accompany sexual abuse. In this difficult situation, talking to someone close to you (with a good friend or family member) can help a lot. Do not be alone. If you had to deal with sexual harassment, you should not be alone with your feelings, hide the harassment that has occurred or try to forget about it. Talk to someone you trust and seek professional advice if necessary.
It’s never too late to ask for help
If a case of sexual violence, sexual assault or rape occurred some time ago, then it is probably already impossible to collect all the necessary evidence, but you may need psychological help and support, as well as advice on infections transmitted sexually.
Sexual abuse breaks the victim’s life and can affect her life for a very long time. Even after some years, you may have a feeling of loneliness, self-accusation, the need to deny what happened. Sexual problems may occur. Such reactions are completely natural in your situation. If these feelings get out of control and begin to interfere with normal daily life, do not be afraid to ask for help from someone close or a professional consultant.
SOS Sexual Violence Services
- Crisis counseling – 651-266-1000
- Sexual violence support group – 651-266-1000