“I’ve just been sexually assaulted, what do I do?”
One in six women and one in 33 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Many do not report their assault because they are threatened by their offender, they feel that it was somehow their fault or they feel ashamed. You DID NOT deserve to be sexually assaulted, but you DO deserve help and support.
Seek out a friend or other support person. You may feel confused and not sure what to do. Call someone you trust who will offer you emotional support and help you understand your options.
Call your local Rape Crisis and Recovery Center. Maryland Rape Crisis & Recovery Centers have trained hotline staff available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer questions or to just listen. Your call is FREE and always confidential. Hotline staff can offer options and help identify what is best for you.
Get medical attention. Whether you have cuts and bruises or not, getting medical attention is very important. Maryland offers Maryland SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam) Hospital Programs at various hospitals. A FREE exam can be completed even if you choose not to involve the police. The exam must be completed within the first 120 hours after the assault. Try not to shower, clean yourself, or urinate after an attack, but even if you have, don’t let that stop you from getting to a hospital as soon as possible.
At the hospital, you can ask that an advocate from a Maryland Rape Crisis & Recovery Centers be with you. Your advocate is there to support you and answer any questions you may have. You can also ask to have your advocate with you during the exam.
During the exam, the nurse will look for things that might identify the attacker, such as hairs, fibers, and body fluids. The exam may include oral swabbing and photographs of visible injuries. An internal exam may be conducted on adolescent and adult women. You may be asked to give blood and hair samples. You may be given preventative treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You may also be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and given preventative treatment, or you may be referred to your local health department for testing. If you are concerned about possible HIV transmission, visit the Maryland Community Services Locator to find HIV testing, treatment, and care sites near you.
You may be given emergency contraception (EC) if there is a risk of pregnancy from the assault. EC contains hormones like those found in birth control pills. They can prevent pregnancy when taken within 120 hours of sexual intercourse. EC is safe and effective in reducing the chance of pregnancy. For more information on where to find EC, visit the Planned Parenthood services finder.
Know your options. For information about abortion services and/or to locate a service provider, you can visit websites such as NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, Planned Parenthood of Maryland, and the DC Abortion Fund (if you reside in Howard, Montgomery, or Prince George’s counties).
Report the assault to police. Your advocate or another support person can go with you to file a report in the county where you were assaulted. For investigative purposes, the sooner you report the sexual assault the better. The police will ask you questions, some of which may be difficult to answer, but it is important that you answer them fully and honestly. Telling the police about your sexual assault is difficult, but many survivors say that bringing their attacker to justice helped them to heal.
Download and print a copy of the safety plan. The safety plan helps you to know what to do in an emergency, how to protect yourself at home and while you’re out or at work, as well as how to protect your children. In addition, it covers using the law to help you and how to preserve your privacy at home and online. Click here to download the safety plan in PDF.