If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you need to prioritize your health and safety. Get to a safe place to assess your physical and emotional state. Then, when you are ready, use the resources available to you to hold a perpetrator accountable and seek justice for the crime committed against you.
Ensure Your Safety and Seek Medical Attention
The first step is to go to a safe location away from the person who assaulted you. If you feel comfortable doing so, go to a friend or family member’s house and explain what happened. Do not suffer in silence. Seek help from the authorities or resources such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline, which is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE. Assess yourself for injuries. If you need urgent medical attention, call 911 right away. If it is not an emergency, you should still visit a doctor for a check-up.
Obtain a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam
A sexual assault forensic exam, or SAFE, is a process that can help determine if you were sexually assaulted and, if so, collect evidence of the attack. This may include DNA evidence from the perpetrator, such as hair, saliva or sperm. A SAFE exam captures images of any physical marks or bruises on your body, as well. You must get this exam within at least five days of the sexual assault. If you can, avoid changing your clothes or bathing before your SAFE.
Report the Crime
It is up to you whether or not to report the sexual assault to law enforcement. Doing so can hold the perpetrator accountable for his or her actions. Criminal charges could lead to a conviction in Kansas that results in fines and jail or prison time. If you do contact the police, give them all the information and details you can about the incident while they are still clear in your mind. This may be difficult to do, but it is important to have an accurate record of events. If you do not know the assailant, your account can help the police identify the perpetrator.
Get Emotional Support
Do not underestimate the importance of taking care of your mental and emotional health after being sexually assaulted. This type of crime can have wide-ranging effects on a victim psychologically. Get the support that you need by reaching out to someone you trust and contacting a professional. Getting counseling or therapy services and joining a sexual assault support group can help you find healthy coping mechanisms and a way to move forward.
Consider Taking Legal Action
Filing a police report and pursuing criminal charges against a perpetrator are not your only options for seeking justice as a victim of sexual assault. You can also hold your attacker civilly liable by filing a sexual assault lawsuit in Kansas. A civil lawsuit can hold the assailant accountable for his or her crimes and how they impacted you. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your related medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, relocation, and more. Discuss this option with a sexual assault attorney for more information.
Follow Your Own Timeline
Healing after an event as traumatic as sexual assault is not a linear journey. Be kind to yourself and understand that your experience might not look like someone else’s. Be patient as you navigate the healing process. Know that you are not alone, and there are professionals, support networks and organizations dedicated to helping survivors of sexual assault. Reach out as often as you need to for assistance and guidance.