Life after the horrific violence of rape can be confusing, scary, and overwhelming. You may be feeling angry, sad, hurt, or at a loss for words about the whole situation. Your feelings are all justifiable. If you are a victim of rape and don’t know where to turn next, we can give you direction to get the help you need. You don’t have to move forward alone.
For immediate support to get you through the following steps, you can connect with a trained staff member at the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-4673), available 24/7 for resources in your area, or if you live in Northeast Ohio, you can contact the Cleveland Rape Crisis center at (216) 619-6192. All information is kept confidential, and they will help you every step of the way.
If you are a victim of rape or sexual assault, here are some next steps:
A Sexual Assault Examination
This step may be foreign to you but is essential if you want to gather the most amount of evidence for pressing charges to your attacker.
With this exam, a healthcare provider will collect possible evidence and DNA from your clothes, body, and belongings. If you choose this step, make sure not to shower or change clothes, as it could remove evidence.
Make a Police Report
While we know you need time to process your pain, consider filing a police report. Talk to your local authorities to explain what happened to you when you’re ready. You are not required to press charges, but that is a valid option. A law enforcement officer can explain the process and where to seek help if you move forward.
You can also navigate the legal side of your rape with a legal counselor. If your case goes to trial, they can help and join you in your court case. Connect to resources near you with a trained staff member from a sexual assault provider who can help.
Consider Talking With Someone You Trust
Often, the scariest thing to do is acknowledge what happened and then share it with someone else out loud. There is comfort when sharing your story with someone you know and trust. It could look like a phone call or a face-to-face interaction, whatever is most comfortable for you.
Sharing about your situation doesn’t have to look like telling every single detail. Whether you choose to tell someone right away or keep it to yourself until you’re ready, it’s entirely up to you. Everyone’s story and healing journey are unique.
Receive Mental Health Support
Lastly, consider getting the mental health support you need to heal from your rape. We know how hard this is, but many people are willing to support you on your journey. Talking with someone who understands what you’re going through can make all the difference. Find a therapist or counselor who can help.
We understand that this can be a very vulnerable time, and that it can be overwhelming to know where or how to start. Know that we hear you, we believe you, and that you do not have to carry this alone.