Coping with sexual assault

I was assaulted. What should I do?

Make sure you are in a safe environment. If you believe you are still in danger, call 911. Once you’re out of physical danger, contact someone you know and trust, such as a friend, relative, teacher, school counselor, friend’s parent, doctor or religious leader.

Call us for advice, support and help if you need it. The RDAP hotline number is 308-534-3495.

If you are under 18, tell a trusted adult. (But remember, not every adult is able to help. You may need to tell more than one person before you find someone who can help.) It’s important to be aware that, if you disclose your identity and location and that you are being harmed, the person you tell  required by state law to alert authorities. If you do not have any trusted adults in your life or wish to talk confidentially for now, you can call RDAP 308-534-3495 or the Nebraska Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-652-1999

Seek medical attention (even if you don’t intend to report the attack to police). There are medical concerns that arise both immediately following the assault and much later. Even with no visible physical injuries, it is important to be tested for STDs and pregnancy. If you visit a hospital, ask for testing and preventative treatment. They may provide you with antibiotics for STDs as well as help you to arrange follow-up testing. 

Reporting the assault to the police

Consider reporting the attack to police. If you would like to report, call 911.

While many survivors find pursuing justice an important part of their recovery process, only you can decide if it is the right choice for you. If you have questions about the process, call RDAP and they  can explain what to expect. If you do plan to report the attack to police, or think there’s a chance you will want to in the future, write down all the details of the attack that you can remember — while the memory is still fresh.

If you do report: Most successful prosecutions end in a plea agreement, without trial, which means that the victim does not have to testify. However if your case does go to trial, you will generally have to testify. If you are worried about having to testify about intimate matters, let the police or prosecutor know about your concerns. They can explain the law and help you understand what might happen if you do go to trial.

Complete a forensic exam (sometimes called a “rape kit”). To find a hospital or medical center near you with forensic exam capability.   After a rape or sexual assault, there is certain evidence of the attack left behind on the victim’s body and clothing. A forensic exam collects this evidence and documents the physical findings to provide information to help reconstruct the details about the attack in question. If you intend to report the attack to police, or think that there is a chance you will want to in the future, it is important to have a forensic exam as soon as possible — while the evidence is still able to be collected. Don’t bathe or brush your teeth before visiting the emergency room in order to preserve the forensic evidence. The forensic exam involves collecting evidence of the attack, such as hairs, fluids and fibers, and preserving the evidence for forensic analysis. If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be collected during the evidentiary exam.

Know that it is never too late to call for help. Even if the attack happened years ago, it’s never too late to get help. Many victims do not realize they need help until months or years later. If you need support, call the RDAP hotline at 1-888-534-3495 to speak with someone who can help.

For more resources on rape and sexual assault, visit RAINN — the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.