If you have been sexually assaulted, or suspect that you have been drugged without your consent and suspect that you have been assaulted, you need to know that help is available.
What has happened to you is a crime. It is NOT your fault. You are NOT to blame. No matter what you were wearing or doing, no one has a right to your body without your consent.
Whatever you feel is normal. Any emotions you are experiencing—whether it is pain, fear, devastation, embarrassment, shame, betrayal, and/or anger—are palatable and normal.
You deserve help immediately. As hard as it is, it is important to TELL SOMEONE what has happened. Find a trusted friend, family member, counselor, or a hotline. Support is important and the first step to healing. You are not alone and do not have to go through this alone.
First and foremost is your safety. Do not take a shower or change your clothes. Instead, get to a safe place, and seriously consider going to a local emergency room. Call 911 if you can’t escape safely.
When you get to the hospital emergency room, ask for a SART nurse. These are Sexual Assault Response Trained Nurses who have the proper training to help you. They will perform a rape kit, which can build evidence against the attacker should you later choose to press charges. You don’t need to make a decision about that immediately. They will also test you for STDs and pregnancy and can refer you to aftercare resources.
At the first opportunity when you feel able, write down everything you remember about the assault: the time, place — even something as seemingly insignificant as the color of the drapes. Then stick it in a file or other place where it can be ignored or easily retrieved when needed. Contemporaneous notes are far more valuable to investigators than later testimony, and some of those details that don’t seem important at first could be crucial. Even if no investigation happens, having those notes in a file somewhere could be important when things come up later. If you feel unable to write, try to tell a good friend or confidant want happened and have her or him take notes. The more details, the better.
If You Are Pregnant
If you are already pregnant, a doctor will evaluate your health and monitor your baby’s condition.
While highly unlikely to become pregnant from rape, you have choices:
Many women choose to carry to term and either place for adoption or choose parenting or some form of kinship care or guardianship options. Remember that this is YOUR child, and you are the mother. Your child is not a reflection of him. When I discovered I was pregnant after being raped, I did not know if I conceived in a loving relationship with my boyfriend, or was if the brutal rapist who said when he was through, “See ya ’round, bitch.”
Here is something that I was told something that really helped me: “No one feeling lasts forever.” Our emotions during crisis will constantly fluctuate. Sometimes, when we have experienced trauma, it is difficult to think clearly and for the long term. Taking your time with a decision (especially a final one) is really important.
Nothing will erase the pain or the memories. But trust me. Over time, it will make you stronger.
If You Choose to Parent
It is important to talk to a counselor or trusted support person to help go over your options, including your rights as a mother and what protections you can take for you and your child from the rapist. If you choose to parent, as I did, know that pregnancy resource centers can guide you through many government and nonprofit services to address many needs before and after birth.
By Joyce McCauley-Benner