Your safety and care come first
If you have been sexually assaulted and are looking for guidance, please consider the following:
- Make sure you are in a safe place.
- Contact a friend or family member you trust or call the local sexual assault program center hotline.
- Get medical attention as soon as possible.
- Most of all, know this is not your fault.
Help is available
Healing after a sexual assault can take a long time and you may be wondering if there is anyone who can help. Many survivors have found it helpful to talk to rape crisis counselors / sexual assault advocates. Counselors and advocates offer support regarding your safety, emotional and physical care, and information to help you – and your friends and family – cope with the aftermath of an assault.
Rape crisis centers are on call 24-hours a day waiting to help you.
- You can find the telephone numbers of advocacy centers in your area here.
- You may also call the 24-hour National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, at 1-800-656-HOPE. By calling this number you will be automatically connected to your closest rape crisis center.
Know Your Options
After a rape or sexual assault an advocate can help you understand your options.
- Advocates are people specially trained to help you understand your options. An advocate won’t make decisions for you; instead, an advocate can help you make the decision that’s right for you.
- Advocacy services are free and confidential.
- If you are under the age of 18, you do have privacy rights for medical treatment and advocacy services. But there could be some exceptions to those privacy rights. An advocate can help explain the exceptions to you. You can also call a crisis line anonymously to learn more about how an advocate can support you, and what options are available to you.
- For more information about what an advocate does, watch this short video. [Ntsiab Lus Hmoob] [Información en Español]
You may not know right now whether you will contact the police. But in case you later decide to, preserving and collecting the evidence available immediately after the assault is crucial. The best ways to preserve evidence include the following recommendations:
- As soon as possible, seek medical attention at a facility that offers sexual assault exams, such as your local hospital emergency department. An examination provides immediate medical care by treating injuries and it serves as a means of collecting evidence through a medical forensic exam, an examination of a sexual assault patient by a health care provider (most often a nurse) who has specialized education and clinical experience in the collection of forensic evidence and treatment of sexual assault patients. “Forensic” means the scientific tests or techniques used in collecting evidence of a crime.
- As much as you might want to change your clothes, shower, bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, use the toilet or clean up in any way, any of these will reduce the likelihood of collecting important evidence of the sexual assault. If possible, consider refraining from “cleaning-up” before seeking a medical forensic exam.
Medical forensic exams are covered by medical privacy laws. In Minnesota you can complete the evidence collection process even if you are unsure about reporting the incident to law enforcement. A police report is not required to complete a medical forensic exam; a decision to report to police can be made at a later time. Also, the county is obligated to pay for all evidence collection in a sexual assault evidence exam.
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