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Sexual Assault

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

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 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.

How is a sexual assault treated?

You may be given 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.

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:

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

  • You have thoughts of harming yourself.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • 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.

When should I call my doctor?

  • 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.

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

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