Reactions to sexual assault can vary greatly. For some, it can elicit powerful emotions and have long-lasting physical and mental effects. Resources for dealing with sexual assault are prevalent, and this guide will cover what sexual assault is and what you should do if you were forced to have sex. If you had sex against your will, there are essential actions you should take:
- Report the incident
- Seek medical treatment for trauma
- For women, you should also seek testing and treatment for unintended pregnancy
Reporting Sexual Assault
For many, sexual assault brings with it feelings of guilt and a fear of stigmatization. Victims should remember that the assault was not their fault and that there are important reasons for reporting. These include ensuring proper medical treatment for the assault, gaining closure, and preventing the perpetrator from striking again.
If you can, notify law enforcement, friends, and family immediately. Provide as many details as possible. The who, when, and how of the matter are all very important. The sooner authorities can document the incident; the more reliable your account will be as evidence in any criminal proceedings.
You may have an urge to wash up or dispose of clothing and other items. You should resist this urge, and allow law enforcement to collect necessary evidence. They may need to perform a specialized physical exam on you as a part of this process.
There are advocacy groups and organizations with the express purpose of supporting victims in coming forward. Seek them out if you need help with reporting the details of a sexual assault that happened to you.
Medical Treatment For Assault
Sexual assault can result in serious physical injuries. Contusions, lacerations, vaginal or anal tearing, broken bones, bruising, and joint dislocations, among other things, may be present. Victims should seek care for these injuries from medical professionals.
Psychological conditions, like PTSD, can develop from sexual assault. Victims should seek support and care for these conditions to aid with the healing process. Counseling and other forms of therapy are advisable. The goal is to cope with the trauma and limit the effect it has on other facets of your life.
Testing And Treatment For STIs
Sexual Assault carries the risk of STI transmission. If you have had sex against your will, you will need testing at regular intervals for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, HIV, and other common diseases. Tests vary, and a physician may order a different blood or urine screening for each potential disease.
If your healthcare provider detects the presence of any diseases, they will need to administer appropriate treatments. In the case of bacterial infections like Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis, this will involve a course of antibiotics. There is a chance to prevent HIV infection with Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. Your doctor can determine if this is a suitable course of action and administer the treatment.
Some instances of assault may also put you at risk for Hepatitis. A physician may recommend a series of shots to deal with the possibility of infection.
Treatment For Pregnancy
Sexual Assault Victims are commonly given emergency contraception. This usually takes the form of pills the greatly reduce the likelihood of pregnancy. If pregnancy from assault does occur, resources and organizations exist for helping women decide what to do, and providing them support in their choices.
Defining Sexual Assault
The law defines sexual assault as any forced or nonconsensual sexual activity. When men or women are coerced into having sex using force or threats of violence, that is sexual assault. Any forced penetration, oral contact, or hand contact falls under this definition. Victims should take steps to ensure they receive proper treatment.
Intoxicants are another method predators use to render their victims incapable of fighting back. Instances of date rape occur when an assailant drugs a victim during an outing then takes advantage of them in their compromised state.
Rape can also take place within an existing relationship. When a husband or wife forces their spouse into sex, we call it spousal rape. It is illegal, and the law regards it with the same level of seriousness as any other form of sexual assault.
Preventing Sexual Assault
You can take steps to limit the risk of future assaults. Cutting of unwanted sexual advances at the earliest possibility is one precaution you can take. Training in self-defense, avoiding solo contact with strangers, guarding your drinks, and avoiding extreme intoxication are other strategies you may employ to reduces the chances of assault.
It's frightful to think of, but you can deal with sexual assault. There are support resources for helping you cope with the difficulty of the situation. Remember that it is important to get treated for potential STIs and pregnancy, report the crime, and safeguard yourself to prevent the instances of future assaults occurring.