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AFTER A SEXUAL ASSAULT
You may experience feelings of shock, anger, sadness, numbness, flashbacks and fear.
You may also experience physical and emotional pain, loss of self-esteem and difficulty concentrating.
These are completely normal reactions.
myth: Someone who was drinking or drunk when sexually assaulted is at least partially to blame.
fact: Alcohol may increase the risk of sexual assault, and may make a person incapable of protecting themselves, but the perpetrator is responsible for his or her own behaviour. It is never the victim's fault.
Find a safe place and tell someone you trust.
If you think you may want to report the assault to police, don't shower, bathe or throw away the clothes you were wearing. Avoid eating or drinking, if possible, including drugs or alcohol. Medical evidence should be collected as soon as possible: within 120 hours of a sexual assault. Remember: reporting is always your choice, even if you seek medical help.
Do seek medical attention (even if you do not want evidence collected or to report the sexual assault to police). You may need care for injuries or other health related issues, such as sexually transmitted infections.
You may contact the Regina Sexual Assault Centre for information and counselling. Advocates are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our Centre offers free telephone and in-office counselling for anyone who has been impacted by sexual assault.
Know that sexual assault is never your fault. No matter where you were, what you were wearing, how much you had to drink or who you were with; when you are assaulted, someone has taken away your choice.
Reporting a sexual assault to police is a very personal choice. You can receive medical care without reporting. There is no time limit for reporting a sexual assault and even if it happened years ago, the police can still investigate. However, reporting promptly will help ensure more evidence is collected. The longer the delay, the more evidence is lost. Some will be lost forever.
You may report an assault by phoning the police or going to a hospital or police station. If you need support, you may call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line and one of the advocates can accompany you. The police will start a report and you will be asked to write a statement and may be interviewed during the investigation. Some interview questions may feel uncomfortable. It is important to remember that the police need to be thorough and are trained to hear details of what happened.
If the police decide not to press charges, it is not because they didn't believe you. Police and prosecutors have to decide if there is enough information and evidence to lay a charge.
Through this program, rather than being limited to the two options of "Yes, I will report to police" or "No, I don't want to report", Third Option offers people the choice to have medical evidence collected, while giving them time to think about whether to report to police.
A physical exam will be completed by a specially trained medical professional. The evidence will be stored at the hospital for six months, or less if you ask for it to be destroyed sooner. It is turned over to police only upon your written consent or as the result of a court order.
*This program will be available in 2017.
The most important thing you can do is believe what the person is telling you. Be an effective listener by doing the following:
- Do not over react. Remain calm and supportive.
- Do not probe for details. A person will tell you as much as they feel comfortable with. Probing can increase feelings of trauma.
- Do not ask questions that assign blame, such as "why would you walk on that street alone?" or "you knew he was no good, so why were you with him?"
- Provide the person with the opportunity to do the talking, by talking less yourself.
- Listen for what is really being said - the feelings underneath the words. Hear what is not said.
- Be aware of your own biases and feelings when offering advice. Listen objectively and accept the person unconditionally.
- Show respect through a warm tone of voice, attentive listening and an effort to understand their feelings.