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The most important thing to know after surviving a sexual assault is that it wasn’t your fault. You did nothing wrong, and you have the right to seek medical care , request police assistance, and use local resources that can support you. Survivors are encouraged to go to the ER promptly. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, or you’d just prefer to see your own trusted gynecologist, you should certainly feel free to do so.

A doctor trying to speak to a patient and calm her

Get to a safe place.

Your first priority is to get away from the attacker. If you can’t call 911 right away, try to get to a public place. If you’re at home, go to a neighbor’s house. If you’re in an urban area, go to the nearest establishment, such as a restaurant or store. People there can assist you, and your attacker is unlikely to follow you to a public place. It’s not uncommon for survivors to know their attackers. For instance, if you’re a college student, you might have been assaulted in your dorm room by someone you know. Get to a friend’s room or find your resident assistant.

Preserve the evidence.

It’s normal to want to take a shower, but try to resist this urge. Even if you think you might not report the rape, you might change your mind later. Preserving the evidence will give you the opportunity to seek justice. Before a medical provider can do a sexual assault exam, you’ll need to avoid doing any of the following:

  • Bathing
  • Douching
  • Changing clothes
  • Brushing teeth or hair
  • Eating or drinking

Obtain morning-after pills.

A gynecologist can provide you with morning-after pills, or you can obtain them at a pharmacy without a prescription. Follow the instructions carefully to prevent an unintended pregnancy. Know that morning after pills do not induce an abortion. If you obtain these pills right away, it won’t be possible for you to be pregnant yet.

Contact a rape crisis center.

rape crisis hotline or center will give you the confidential and empowering guidance you need during this difficult time. You’ll learn about your legal rights and options, and your decision to either report or not will be respected.

Women who need morning-after pills in the Washington, D.C. area can trust the professionals at Washington Surgi-Clinic. Our kind and courteous gynecologists want sexual assault survivors to know that we offer confidential care that respects the choices of the patient. Call (202) 659-9403.