After an Assault
Your Safety Matters
- Get to a safe place: Get away from your assailant to a location where you can call for help. Ideally, find a secure place where you aren’t alone. This can include a campus health center, or the home of a nearby friend or family member.
- Contact the authorities: Call 911 to report the incident right away. Provide the dispatcher with the time, place, and description of your assailant. Wait for the police to arrive so that they can collect your statement.
- Get medical attention: Even if you do not feel like you need to, seek medical attention at a doctor’s office, urgent care clinic or a hospital as soon as possible. Doctors can help collect vital evidence and treat your injuries directly after an assault. These are some of the specialized care options to ask for:
- Advocacy: RAINN suggests calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline to request hospital referrals and check for the availability of an emergency advocate, who can help you through the medical examination.
- Sexual Assault Nurse / Forensic Examiner (SANE or SAFE): These professionals are trained to conduct victim examinations, document injuries, and collect DNA evidence that can prove useful in identifying an assailant. Potential evidence includes hair, skin, and bodily fluid samples.
- Emergency Contraception: Victims can prevent the risk of pregnancy by taking Plan B up to 120 hours after an attack.
- STD Testing: Get screened for possible infections that can be transmitted during unwanted sexual contact.
To preserve evidence of threats or assault, RAINN advises victims to write down details about the attack and the attacker immediately. This information will help doctors, police and campus authorities do their utmost to help you in the hours and days after an attack. Do not change your clothes, shower, brush your teeth, or clean the scene of the crime until you can see a medical professional. If you think you may have been drugged, the federal Office of Women’s Health advises you to ask for a urinalysis during your examination.
If Someone You Know Is Assaulted
- Help the victim reach a safe location away from the assailant. Make the victim feel as safe and listened to as possible.
- Many victims blame themselves for an attack. Inform the victim that the sexual assault was not their fault.
- Be a supportive listener. Thank the victim for telling you about this. Avoid phrases that evoke powerlessness at first, including “I’m sorry.”
- If you saw the attacker or witnessed any part of the assault, take detailed notes regarding the incident.
- Accompany the victim to the hospital and ensure they meet with medical professionals who specialize in sexual assault trauma.
- Follow up with the victim. Encourage participation in counseling sessions and support groups.
- Watch the survivor’s emotional and physical status. According to The White House Council on Women and Girls, victims of sexual assault or rape are at higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, eating disorders, or suicidal ideations.
There are a number of individuals and resources available on campus who can help you if you have been the victim of an assault.
Responsible employees are employees of McNeese who have the authority to take action to redress a sexually-oriented criminal offense or has the duty to report a sexually-oriented criminal offense or any other misconduct by students or employees to appropriate school officials. These employees receive additional training and are responsible to assist the Title IX Coordinator or his designee with providing a student or employee who reports that the student has been a victim of a sexually-oriented criminal offense, whether the offense occurred on or off campus, with a written explanation of the students rights and options.
Unwanted sexual activity can take a toll on the victim’s physical and mental health. According to the Student Health Services department at the University of South Carolina, only 25-50% of survivors seek professional mental health help after a sexual assault. The emotional and physical scars of an assault can deeply impact a student’s ability to cope with academic, social, and personal responsibilities. 1 in 10 rape victims currently suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; 3 in 10 will develop PTSD over their lifetime. While asking for help may feel unbearable, you must take action to ensure your safety.
- Make safe arrangements: If you live with an abusive partner, make arrangements with your dorm staff, a safe home, or friends to relocate to a new residence. To prevent future incidents, do not let your assailant know where you will be living.
- Seek counseling: Contact your campus health service office and inform them you need a crisis counselor who specializes in sexual assault. You can also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE to speak with a counselor over the phone immediately.
- File a civil protection order (CPO): If you know the identity of your assailant, you can pursue a protection order, also known as a restraining order. A court can order your attacker to stay away from you and not communicate with you. An assailant who violates a CPO can face criminal charges. The American Bar Association has put together a resource regarding Sexual Assault CPO procedures for all 50 states.
Survivors often struggle with resuming their normal daily activities in the aftermath of a sexual assault. Work with your physicians, counselors, and instructors to take the appropriate time off from classes and other academic responsibilities and heal. Even after physical wounds heal, survivors suffer the risk of chronic emotional distress. The Mental Impact of Rape, a report by the Medical University of South Carolina, shows that compared to other victims, rape survivors are 6.2 times more likely to develop PTSD, 3 times more likely to have a major depressive episode, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
Due to the seriousness of trauma that often comes with the fallout of an attack, it is extremely important for victims of sexual abuse to get professional help. You might not feel like you need counseling, however the emotional and mental aftereffects can suddenly catch up with you, especially during periods of high stress in your life as a student. There are many support systems in place to help you through this difficult period.