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AFTER A SEXUAL ASSAULT
You may experience feelings of shock, anger, sadness, numbness, flashbacks and fear.
You may 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.
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, including drugs or alcohol. Medical evidence should be collected as soon as possible; within 120 hours of a sexual assault.
Do seek medical attention (even if you do not want to report to police). You may need care for injuries or health related issues. Remember: in most circumstances, if you are over 16 years of age, reporting to police is your choice, even if you seek medical help.
If you would like assistance or support, please contact the Centre at 306-522-2777 or on our Crisis Line at 306-352-0434. Our Line is open 24/7 and we can provide you with more information or arrange for free, confidential counselling with one of our staff.
And please know that 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. It is never your fault.
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; 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 can call our 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.
The Centre offers Anonymous Reporting, which allows you to provide information about your assault to one of our counsellors, who then passes it along to the police without your name or other identifying information. There are many reasons why someone might choose Anonymous Reporting. Please call our Centre for more information about this option.
If the police decide not to press charges, it is not because they didn't believe you. Police and prosecutors make decisions based on the evidence they have. This can be emotionally difficult for people who have experienced sexual violence. Know that you are not alone in these feelings. If you need to talk with someone about this or get more information about the justice system, please call our Centre during business hours at 306-522-2777.
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. It is turned over to police only upon your written consent or as the result of a court order.
The most important thing you can do is believe what the person is telling you. Be an effective listener by doing the following:
- Even if you feel shock or disbelief, 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.
- 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.