After a sexual assault

It’s important to understand that it’s not your fault and nothing you did or didn’t do could make it your fault. It’s okay to feel scared, confused, vulnerable, shocked, ashamed, or guilty—these feelings do not mean you’re weak. There are some things you can do to take care of yourself after an assault:

A really nice sexual assault counselor came to our school to talk to us about rape and sexual assault. She gave us some really good advice about what to do and where to go if we think we may have been sexually assaulted.  She also said that we could get a lot more information by calling a rape crisis center or checking out www.surviverape.org.  Here are some of the things she said we could do after an assault:

  • Go to a safe place, like a friend’s or family member’s home, hospital or police station.

  • Call a rape crisis center hotline. A trained counselor can talk to you about what happened, your options, and even go to the hospital with you if you want. Search for crisis centers in Massachusetts.

  • Go to a hospital as soon as possible. Some hospitals have special Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Programs that can be especially helpful. At the hospital you can be checked out and treated for any injury or infection. If you want to, the hospital can also collect evidence about the assault. You can have evidence collected now, even if you aren’t sure whether you want to report the assault to the police.

  • Try not to clean up or change clothes before you get to the hospital. This can make it easier to find evidence from your abuser. If you have already washed or changed, though, it may still be possible to find some evidence.

  • Call your local police or 911 if you want to report the assault. If you don’t want to make the call yourself, hospital staff can make it for you.

  • And the most important thing, remember that what you choose to do after a sexual assault happens is completely up to you. You can choose to do all or none of these things. And you can choose to stop or change your plan at any time.

About your confidentiality

You should know that if someone is under the age of 18, they are legally still a "minor."  Many adults, such as teachers, counselors, health care providers, and social workers are required by law to report any abuse that happens to a minor. That includes sexual assault or rape.

Sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape are crimes. You can report this crime - or find an adult who will help report it for you. If you go to a hospital to get help after a rape or assault, someone at the hospital (such as a nurse) will make the report.

But remember, you can call a rape crisis center or the Sexual Health Helpline and speak to a counselor anonymously.  You don't have to give your real name or your age.  If you or a friend have experienced sexual assault or rape and want to talk through your options, including whether or not you want to report it, the counselors can help you think about what you want to do.

If you are the survivor of a sexual assault in Massachusetts and need information or someone to talk to, please check out the clinics and services search I’ve put together so you can find a rape crisis center near you.

Next section: Dating and relationship violence


Tell someone

Sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape are crimes. You can report this crime — or find an adult who will help report it for you.