A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Assault
This article provides information on protection from violence and abuse and what to do if you are assaulted. This article is excerpted from a booklet written by Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.
Get to a safe place and do the following :
- Do not shower, bathe, douche, wash your hands, brush your teeth, or use the toilet.
- Don't change or destroy clothing.
- As hard as it may be not to clean up, you may destroy important evidence if you do.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Contact a friend or family member you trust or call your local Rape Crisis Hotline for support and information.
I’m afraid to be alone.
Your fear is natural. After being sexually assaulted, you may also feel humiliated, degraded and depressed.
You may want to isolate yourself even if you are afraid to be alone. These feelings are common and it is helpful
to your recovery to deal with them. A rape crisis hotline or crisis counseling center may be able to help you deal
with these feelings whenever they arise.
I wonder If I’ll ever feel safe again.
It is very common for you to feel afraid, especially in circumstances similar to those under which the assault occurred (i.e. same place, same time of day, etc.) Most people find that they begin to feel safer after a period of time. The length of this period varies. Again, fear for your safety is a very normal reaction. A supportive, non-judgmental listener can help you deal with this normal reaction.
I’m afraid my attacker will return.
Although many rapists threaten to return, in reality very few ever do. Still, the threat itself can be frightening. Taking the precautions to make yourself and your home safer is one way of dealing with such a threat and the fear it causes. See the suggestions listed below for specific actions you can take.
I’m considering purchasing pepper spray or a gun to protect myself.
It is not uncommon after a sexual assault to want to purchase a weapon. It’s a good idea to consider the following before making a decision:
• Pepper spray cannisters, guns, knives, hat pins, etc., can all be taken away and used against you. Also, pepper spray cannisters may malfunction at any time.
• You may not have your pepper spray or other weapon with you when you need it.
• Approximately half of all assailants are known by the survivor.
• Children can find weapons and hurt themselves accidentally.
As an alternative to weapons, you may want to enroll in self-defense courses. A good instructor can help turn fear into anger and then into action. You can learn how to use awareness, assertiveness and physical action to defend yourself. Learning self defense is one way of dealing with fear and anxiety. What you learn becomes part of you and you always have it with you.