What to do after an Assault
Seek emotional support
Sexual assault is a sudden, arbitrary, unpredictable and traumatic event. Almost all sexual assault victims suffer severe and long-lasting emotional trauma. KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
After a sexual assault it is important to find a safe place. Once you feel safe talk to someone you trust; a friend, a family member, partner, significant other, rape crisis advocate, therapist or counselor. Talking with someone about what happened and your feelings is very important as it can be the first step in healing. Fight for HOPE advocates are available to help you find the resources that fit your needs. YOU WILL SURVIVE THIS.
Seek medical attention
A Sexual Assault Forensics Exam (SAFE Exams) is recommended to:
1. Detect and treat injuries;
2. Discuss possibilty of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy and provide treatment;
3. Discuss the risk of HIV, and possibly offer HIV prophylaxis
4. Discuss the possibilty of rape drugs and testing;
5. Gather evidence;
6. Discuss your resources
SAFE Exams are free of charge as long as it is done within 120 hours of the assault. These exams are performed by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE). These are specially trained nurses who are on call 24 hours a day.
It is best not to do the following before the examination:
- Wash your hands
- Brush your teeth
- Drink anything
- Change your clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault
Even if you have done these things, you should still consider seeking medical attention. In Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester County you can receive a SAFE Exam at MUSC’s Emergency Room.
MUSC Emergency Room
1st Floor, MUSC Main Hospital
96 Jonathan Lucas Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Please note that you can receive a SAFE Exam and choose not to report the assault to law enforcement.
If you choose to not receive a SAFE Exam a follow-up medical appointment is recommended. Fight for HOPE advocates can assist you with medical appointments.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, or know someone who needs help, please call 843.410.1794.
Common Reactions –
After a sexual assault, survivors often feel overwhelmed by a flood of emotion. There is no one way a survivor should act or behave. While each person reacts differently to rape and sexual assault, there are some common reactions shared by many survivors. All of these reactions are normal and may eventually subside over time as healing begins.
Feelings and reactions – These are all completely normal!
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of trust in oneself and others
- Denial of what happened
- Mood swings
- Numbness and disbelief
- Feelings of betrayal
- Nausea or loss of appetite
- Sleeplessness, nightmares, or waking in the night
- Soreness in areas of assault, aches and pains
- Fear of being alone
- Fear of being in crowds
- Fear of anything that reminds them of the assault or assailants
- General nervousness
- Guilt and self-blame, feeling like they should have been able to prevent the assault or that they did something to cause it
- Fear of people finding out and what they will think
- Crying, depression, becoming silent and withdrawn
- Disruptions of normal way of relating to people or daily routine of work or school
- Disruptions of normal sexual style
- Desire to move, get away, change job or schools
- Being able to stop reliving the experience
- Trident United Way 211 Crisis (dial 211)
- Charleston Mental Health Mobile (843.414.2350/800.613.8379)
National Sexual Assault Hotline
- 24/7 hotline
- Hosts an online hotline