What to do after sexual assault

There are many types of sexual assault , including rape, forcible sodomy and any unwanted or coerced sexual contact, such as groping. After surviving an act of sexual violence, victims often feel shaken and stunned, and unsure of what to do next. Even if you aren’t sure whether you’ll report the crime, you’re urged to seek emergency care at West Hills Hospital. Our compassionate doctors and nurses will give you the care and support you need within a confidential setting.

Getting to a safe place
Your safety is of the utmost importance. After a sexual assault, your top priority is to get away from your attacker. Go to the nearest public place.

You can call 911 for immediate assistance, and to improve the chances that law enforcement will be able to locate your attacker. If you don’t feel comfortable reporting the crime just yet, call a trusted friend or family member, and ask to be taken to the hospital.

Seeking medical care
Let the triage nurse know that you’ve been assaulted. He or she may be able to take you to a private place to wait for a doctor, away from the main ER waiting room.

In addition to receiving treatment for your physical injuries, you can request a sexual assault forensic exam . This exam collects and preserves evidence of the assault.

Victims are strongly encouraged to have this exam as soon as possible after being assaulted, as evidence degrades over time and is affected by activities like washing up. You are not automatically required to report the crime if you have the forensic exam. It’s perfectly alright to take the time to think about your next step.

Recovering from physical and emotional trauma
The physical injuries of sexual violence heal far more quickly than the emotional trauma. Follow the emergency care doctor’s discharge instructions, and make a follow up appointment with your primary care physician.

The process of emotional recovery is different for every survivor. Try to be kind to yourself, and try to confide in a trusted family member or friend. Consider asking your doctor for a referral to a mental health counselor or local support group.

The emergency care team at West Hills Hospital provides a safe setting for sexual assault victims to receive the medical care and support services they need. If you believe your safety is at risk, please call 911 to request immediate police assistance. Otherwise, you can come to our Emergency Room in West Hills, or call a registered nurse any time of the day or night at (818) 676-4321.

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