No one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted.
Sexual assault is any sexual activity that is done without the victim’s consent, whether through force, manipulation, or coercion. It is a crime. Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnic, or economic background.
Sexual assault has short- and long-term physical and mental health effects that make recovery difficult. Since most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, the perpetrator is often an acquaintance, friend or relative, which may make the sexual abuse even more traumatic. Whether or not a victim chooses to report a sexual assault, MCVP can provide support and services, resources and additional referrals that can help victims begin the recovery process.
Sexual assault is against the law, regardless of when or where it occurs, or the gender of the victim or perpetrator. There are time limitations for legal recourse, so victims can talk to an advocate about their options or an attorney about their legal rights.
What to do if you have been sexually assaulted
Go to a safe location. You can call the police if you need help or want to report the sexual assault.
Get medical attention. Deciding to seek medical attention is always recommended regardless of whether or not the crime us reported to the police. A medical exam can provide treatment for injuries or sexually transmitted infections, as well as provide evidence collection and emergency pregnancy and HIV prevention. It is important to know that under the law, medical professionals must report cases of suspected child abuse and gun shot wounds.
Important: do not change your clothes, bathe, or wash away any evidence if you are going to the hospital and the assault took place in the last five days.
Start the healing process. Call MCVP for support. A trained sexual assault crisis advocate will meet you at the hospital and/or police station. The advocate is there to offer you support and answer any questions you may have. Any information you share with the advocate is confidential. Advocates are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and help you understand your options.
The process of healing and regaining trust after being sexually assaulted, especially by someone you know, is a long one. Not only has your body been violated, but your faith in another person has been betrayed. It might take a while for you to feel safe and secure again, but in time you will be able to go on. Talking about the assault and your feelings with someone you trust can help. We at MCVP are here to listen, help you explore your options, and provide support.
5 ways you can help a victim of sexual assault:
- Believe. Remember, the assault is not the victim’s fault.
- Be supportive.
- Encourage the person to seek medical attention and contact a local crisis center.
- Support the person’s right to make her/his own decisions.
- Maintain confidentiality.
Information adapted from the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence brochure on sexual assault.
We also offer support services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.