If you have been faced with the unfortunate event of a sexual assault, your life may never be the same again. Your emotions are likely all over the place, ranging from fear to anxiety to helplessness and shame. Understand that you’re not alone. Thousands of women are sexually assaulted daily, and many of them keep their pain locked inside. There is help available. No matter how serious your situation is, it’s important to reach out-and to find the right resources to get the assistance that you need.
See Your Doctor Right Away
If you’ve been sexually assaulted, one of the first steps you should take as soon as you reach a safe location is to seek medical help. Going to the nearest emergency room will allow you the medical personnel to process your case and check you immediately for any physical damage or trauma. This can be a very sensitive situation, but rest assured, it will help you with the healing process. Some things that might be covered include:
- A pregnancy test.
- Testing for sexual transmitted diseases including HIV and Syphilis.
- Digital imaging including CT scan or X-ray of possible fractured areas.
- Blood work to test for any other underlying medical problems.
- Interview with police officer and social worker.
It’s important to get the proper care as soon as possible after the incident occurred. This will help to pinpoint any issues and help you get the precise care, including STD treatment that you may as a result of the assault. Even if you feel like you don’t have any physical injury, this is a good time for an emergency doctor to document everything that has happened and report the incident to the proper authorities.
Utilize The Right Coping Mechanisms
An important step in processing any type of sexual assault is to be able to talk through what you’re feeling and experiencing right now. This can be done through an intense counseling session with a professional whose expertise is in sexual assault. Counseling will help give you the proper coping skills to deal with the trauma. Some suggestions may include:
- Generating a support system or talk to someone you can trust.
- Staying committed to your therapy sessions.
- Reaching out to your doctor for medical questions.
- Utilizing proper relaxation techniques including meditation, stretching or yoga.
- Avoiding stimulants that contain caffeine-this could trigger anxiety.
- Using a journal to write down your thoughts.
Because each person and incident is unique, keep in mind your treatment plan may be different.
Don’t Be Afraid To Press Charges
Something to consider after a traumatic incident that violates you in any way is whether or not to press charges. Many victims of abuse are afraid to press charges because they are worried about retaliation or humiliation. Never feel that this is the case. If you are uneasy or scared about turning your incident over to the prosecutor’s office, talk to a counselor on sexual assault or a social worker who can guide you in the right direction regarding prosecuting the case and filing charges.
Seek Specialty Counseling
It’s important to not turn to behaviors that may be risky or detrimental to your health. In many cases, people who are assaulted or abused turn to drugs, alcohol or other negative ways to cope with the aftereffects of domestic or sexual assault. If your assault has resulted in a pregnancy, now is not the time to turn to drugs or destructive behavior to deal with the issue. Seek immediate counseling with a specialist who deals with crisis pregnancies. There are many options available, and it takes time to make the right decision regarding you and your baby’s future. Your doctor can help you with a treatment plan to help nourish your body during the pregnancy and prescribe the right medications to help you safely deal with anxiety and stress.
Emotions can be all over the place for you right now. Try to stay focused on the positive, no matter what the outcome. Reach out for support and lean on others for help through this challenging time.