What to Do if You Have Been Raped
No matter how careful you or your friends are, it may not be possible to prevent a rape. Then it becomes important to know what to do to help yourself or a friend feel safe again. Remember that it is not your fault or his or her fault. No one asks to be raped, and no one deserves it.
After a rape occurs, you should:
- Get to a safe place as soon as you can.
- Try to preserve all physical evidence. You should not bathe, shower, douche, use the toilet, or change clothing until you have had a medical exam.
- Contact the police. Rape is a crime; it is important to report it. However, reporting a crime is not the same as prosecuting. The decision to prosecute can be made at a later time.
- Get medial attention as soon as possible. An exam will determine the presence of physical injury, sexually transmissible diseases, or pregnancy. The exam, if done within 72 hours following the rape, can obtain evidence to assist in criminal prosecution. Health care is provided through the Health and Wellness Center and/or any of the local area hospitals: UPMC Hamot, Millcreek Community Hospital and St. Vincent Health Center.
- If you are concerned about becoming pregnant, you may be able to take advantage of emergency contraceptive services. If the assault occurred in the past 72 hours, you are a candidate for the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP). Contact the Health and Wellness Center and ask for a same day appointment.
- Contact a close friend who can be with you for support. Your friend can accompany you to the medical exam and/or police department.
- Consider talking to a counselor. You may be feeling a variety of strong emotions --- fear, anxiety, depression, guilt, powerlessness, shame, shock, disbelief, embarrassment, denial, anger. You may also have some physical problems such as sleep disturbances and nausea. Counseling may help you to understand your feelings and help in the recovery process.
- Penn State's Guide for Sexual Assault Victims (link ???) to learn more about medical care options, emotional support services, and police and legal services.
While most victims of sexual assault are women, men can be victims, too. At Penn State, the same medical, emotional, and legal services are available to men.
What You Can Do as a Friend
As a friend of someone who has been raped, you can do things to help. For example, you can accompany your friend to the medical exam and/or police department. It's also important to listen to your friend in a non-judgmental way; he/she is not to blame. Encourage action so that he/she regains control of his/her life by making decisions that need to be made. Understand that each victim reacts and recovers differently. Most likely you will be affected, too --- take care of yourself and your own needs as well.