What to do if…

If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault:

  1. Go to a safe place. Get help immediately.
    • Call 911!
  2. Tell someone.
    • Talk to a trusted friend, spouse, parent or relative.
    • Call the local rape crisis help center. A victim advocate is trained to help you understand your medical and legal options and provide emotional support.
  3. Go to a hospital emergency room.
    • Get a medical exam. You may have suffered internal injuries, contracted a sexually transmitted disease or become pregnant.
  4. Do not bathe, change your clothes, comb your hair, wipe after urination or douche.
    • Valuable DNA evidence on your body or clothing may help identify the rapist.
    • If you feel you may have been drugged prior to the assault , it is important to save your first urine in a clean container. Take it with you to the hospital for drug testing.

When you go to the hospital, take a change of clothes with you. If you have already changed your clothes, bring the ones you were wearing at the time of the assault with you in a paper bag. The clothes may be needed for evidence. Do not put the clothing in a plastic bag because plastic can destroy evidence.

At the hospital, you will be asked why you are seeking medical attention. You will be asked to give your name, address and other personal information. You will be asked to give permission for a forensic medical examination to collect evidence. Many hospitals will automatically call a victim advocate for you, or they may ask if you wish one to be called. The advocate is there to help you, answer your questions, and provide help and support.

With your permission, a sex crime kit may be used to collect physical evidence. It will be sent to the State Crime Lab for analysis and can be used as evidence if the case is prosecuted. You do not have to file a report with the police in order to have the forensic medical examination/sex crime kit done. The evidence will be kept at the lab for approx. 18 months, in the case the victim decides to file a report at a later time, or the case goes to court.

The cost of the forensic medical examination will be paid by the Forensic Medical Examination Fund if authorized by the Prosecuting Attorney in the county where the reported assault took place.

If someone you know has been sexually assaulted:

  • Believe what you hear. Provide comfort and support.
  • Listen without judging.
  • Encourage your friend to talk. Try not to interrupt or ask a lot of questions.
  • Let your friend make his/her own decisions.
  • Offer to go with your friend to the hospital emergency room for help. Even days or weeks after an assault, a medical exam is important.
  • Give your friend the number of the rape crisis help center in your area.
  • Do not tell others what happened without your friend’s permission.
  • Tell your friend no one deserves to be raped. It was not his/her fault, no matter what.

(Information in this section taken from West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services,www.fris.org)