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I was just raped. I’m scared and don’t know what to do. Can you help me?

Here’s what you should do immediately:

1. Get to someplace safe as soon as possible.

2. Once you’re in a physically safe place, do not shower or bathe. This may be hard, because you may be feeling like you’d really like to wash off. However, showering or bathing also removes some evidence, which the police will need if you decide to press charges. You don’t have to decide right away if you want to press charges, but the evidence needs to be collected now in case you decide to press charges in the future.

3. Call a local rape crisis center. 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) will connect you with the center in your area. A rape crisis center can help you seek medical assistance and assist you in getting other support.

4. Tell your parent(s) or guardian(s) or another adult in your life who you know well and trust. They can help you work through the next steps, including receiving medical attention and/or contacting the police.

5. Call the police or have the rape crisis counselor or your parent(s) or guardian(s) do it for you. They can let the police know what happened. The police will come and take a statement, and they will also let you know the options you have for pressing charges, whether now or in the future. They will help get you to a medical professional immediately.

6. Seek medical assistance. Rape crisis centers often provide someone to go with you to receive medical care in order to make the experience less scary and to help you through it. Medical professionals will:

  • Examine you to make sure you weren’t harmed internally or externally in any way.
  • Give you medical care that may include emergency contraception (if you are a girl who was raped by a guy) and tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Collect evidence, so you have the option to press charges if you decide that feels right for you.

It’s important that you understand that what happened was not your fault. It was not your fault even if the person who raped you is someone you’ve been seeing for a while or is a relative or family friend. It was not your fault no matter how you were dressed or if you willingly started to do something sexual with this person and then changed your mind in the middle of it.

In addition to taking care of your physical health, your emotional and psychological health is also really important. There is no one way that people respond or react to being raped or sexually assaulted, and there’s no one right way to heal from that experience. It can be helpful to talk with people who are trained in working with sexual assault and rape survivors. It can also help to connect with others who have been through something similar to what you’ve been through.

A great place to start is with the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN). In addition to having really helpful resources on their website, they operate a 24-hour National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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