Skip to Content

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.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have thoughts of harming yourself.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have pain in your abdomen or pelvic area.
  • You are taking medicines and cannot stop vomiting.
  • You feel very sad and think you cannot cope with what happened to you.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • 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 think you are pregnant.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

If you are 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 healthcare provider will examine you and treat your injuries. Police officers and healthcare providers 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 healthcare provider will collect any evidence that your attacker may have left on your body or clothes.

  • A physical exam will be used so your healthcare provider can check for bruises, cuts, and other injuries. Your provider will carefully examine your genitals, anus, and mouth. Tools may be used to check for tears and other damage.
  • Blood tests 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 samples 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.


may include any of the following:

  • A hepatitis B vaccine may be given if you have not received it 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 help prevent or treat sexually transmitted infections caused by bacteria. These medicines can help prevent gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Take them as directed.
  • Emergency contraceptive medicine may be given if you are a woman to help prevent pregnancy. Take them as directed.
  • HIV prevention medicines must be taken for up to 28 days. You must not miss any doses.

Seek support or counseling:

It may take time to heal from the emotional harm from a sexual assault. It is common to have many feelings, including fear, anxiety, or anger. It may help to find someone to help you work through these feelings. Ask for resources and therapists that work with sexual assault survivors in your area. It may help if you can stay with a family member or friend, or have them stay with you for a few days.

Follow up with your doctor within 1 to 2 weeks:

You may need to return to have tests to see if you are pregnant or have an STI, such as syphilis or HIV. If you received a hepatitis B vaccine after your assault, you will need 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. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For 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:

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 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 IBM Watson Health

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.