The Aftermath of Rape

Every two minutes someone is raped or sexually assaulted in the U.S. It happens to women, men, children, and the elderly. The rapist can be a stranger, an acquaintance, or someone you know-a friend, family member, neighbor, coworker, even your spouse. Rape is a serious crime and you should know what to do in case it happens to you.

What Should You Do if You Are Raped?
If someone forces you to have sex against your will, you are the victim of rape. While rape is very traumatic physically and emotionally, it's important to know what to do and what not to do afterward. Here are some guidelines:

* First and foremost, go to a safe place away from your attacker.
* Preserve all physical evidence of the attack. Do not shower or bathe, change your clothes, brush your teeth, eat or drink. Do not clean or disturb anything in the place where the assault occurred.
* Call a friend, family member, or someone else you trust who can stay with you and be supportive.
* Go to a hospital emergency room or rape crisis clinic as fast as you can. Even if you have no physical injuries, it's important to get checked out for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and, if you are female, pregnancy.
* Call the police is you want to report the crime.
* Write down any details you can remember about the assault and the attacker.

What Happens in the Emergency Room?
At the hospital, the doctor will perform a "rape kit," a thorough examination to check for injuries and collect any evidence, such as hair, saliva, clothing fibers, or semen. Next is a blood test to check for STDs, including HIV, and pregnancy. The results of these tests will come back in a few days or weeks. It's important to see your own doctor within a couple of weeks after the assault to review the test results.

If You Think You Were Drugged
Tell someone at the hospital if you think you were given a "rape drug." They will take a urine sample to check if any drugs are in your system.

Reporting the Crime
Talk with a rape crisis counselor who can provide all the information you'll need to understand the process. Know that it's never too late to report the crime, which is why it's so important to collect the physical evidence right away.

Healing Takes Time
Being raped can have a huge effect on your life. Give yourself the time you need to deal with what's happened. Many rape victims need help for months or even years afterward. Always remember that it's never your fault. And don't hesitate to get help. Rape crisis centers across the country have counselors to help you.

-- Beth Adamo

External Links:
Sexual Harassment Investigation -OSHA TRAINING
Emergency First Aid - OSHA Safety Training

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