Sexual Assault

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact made by another person. You may not agree to the contact, or you may agree to it because you are pressured, forced, or threatened. Sexual assault can include touching your genital areas (vagina or penis), or rape. Rape is when a man's penis enters the vagina of a female, or the anus or mouth of a male or female. Sexual assault is not your fault. The attacker is always at fault.

Who is at risk for sexual assault?

Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. This includes adults, children, women, and men. Females are at the greatest risk of being assaulted.

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. The 911 operator may refer you to a sexual assault center. Do not destroy the evidence of a sexual assault:

  • Do not wash yourself, brush your teeth, or rinse your mouth.

  • Do not wash any wounds you got during the assault.

  • Do not eat, drink, or go the bathroom.

  • Do not change clothes.

What will happen at the emergency department or sexual assault center?

A caregiver will examine you and treat your injuries. Police officers and caregivers will ask you questions about the assault. Throughout the process, you will be told exactly what will be done and why. All of your information will be kept private. During your exam, you can ask questions or refuse any part of the process. You can ask to have someone with you. This may include a friend, family member, or other medical advocate. Your caregiver will collect any evidence that your attacker may have left on your body or clothes.

  • Exam: During your exam, your caregiver will check for bruises, cuts, and other injuries. She will carefully examine your genitals, anus, and mouth. Special tools may be used to check for tears and other damage.

  • Blood tests: These may be done to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These include hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and syphilis. Blood samples also can help the police tell your blood from your attacker's blood.

  • Urine tests: Your urine may be tested for STIs or alcohol and drugs your attacker may have given you. It may also be used to check if you were already pregnant and find what medicine is right for you.

How is a sexual assault treated?

You may be given the following treatments after a sexual assault:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine: You may receive a hepatitis B vaccine if you have not been vaccinated before. You will need 2 follow-up doses. You will need the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first dose. You will need the third dose 4 to 6 months after the first dose. You need all 3 doses for the vaccine to work.

  • Antibiotics: These help prevent sexually transmitted infections caused by bacteria. These medicines can help prevent gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Take them as directed.

  • Emergency contraceptive medicine: These help prevent pregnancy. Take them as directed.

  • HIV prevention medicines: These help prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. These medicines must be taken for up to 28 days. You must not miss any doses.

What are the risks of sexual assault?

  • People have different reactions after sexual assault. You may feel powerless, anxious, afraid, or angry. You also may feel disbelief, shame, or even guilt. You may feel a loss of trust in others. You may lose interest in sex and wish to avoid other people. You may worry how your friends or family will react after the assault. It is common for feelings to change soon after the assault. You may feel calm at first and then upset later.

  • Trouble coping after sexual assault can lead to long-term physical and mental health problems. You may develop sleep and eating disorders, and you may abuse substances. Depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can result after a sexual assault. These may cause nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of suicide.

Where can I find support and more information?

  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
    2000 L Street NW
    Washington , DC 20036
    2000 L Street NW
    Washington , DC 20036
    Phone: 1- 1800 - 656- 4673
    Web Address: http://www.rainn.org/

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have pain in your abdomen or pelvic area.

  • You have vaginal discharge that is different from normal.

  • You have fatigue, a sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (glands in your neck), and a rash.

  • You are taking medicines and cannot stop vomiting.

  • You feel very sad and think you cannot cope with what happened to you.

  • You think you are pregnant.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have thoughts of harming yourself.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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