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Tips from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?


Find a safe environment - anywhere away from the attacker. Ask a trusted friend stay with you for moral support.

Preserve evidence of the attack - don't bathe or brush your teeth.

Write down all the details you can recall about the attack & the attacker.

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline, operated by RAINN, for free,
confidential counseling, 24 hours a day: 1-800-656-HOPE.

Get medical attention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important
to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.

To preserve forensic evidence, ask the hospital to conduct a rape kit
exam.

If you suspect you may have been drugged, ask that a urine sample be
collected. The sample will need to be analyzed later on by a forensic lab.

Report the rape to law enforcement authorities. A counselor can provide
the information you'll need understand the process.

Remember it wasn't your fault.

Recognize that healing from rape takes time. Give yourself the time you
need.

Know that it's never too late to call. Even if the attack happened
years ago, the National Sexual Assault Hotline can still help. Many victims
do not realize they need help until months or years later.
How can I help a friend who has been sexually assaulted?


Listen. Be there. Don't be judgmental.

Encourage your friend to seriously consider reporting the rape to law
enforcement authorities. A counselor can provide the information your friend
will need to make this decision.

Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend some time to deal with
the crime.

Let your friend know that professional help is available through the
National Sexual Assault Hotline. Encourage him or her to call the hotline,
but realize that only your friend can make the decision to get help.

What can I do to reduce my risk of sexual assault?

Don't leave your beverage unattended or accept a drink from an open
container.

When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together,
watch out for each other, and leave together.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Don't allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don't know or
trust.

Think about the level of intimacy you want in a relationship, and
clearly state your limits.

Melissa Scardaville's article, investigating the messages sent by daytime's rape storylines, appears in the June 24, 2003 issue of Soap Opera Digest, which is on sale June 13. For back issues, click here or call (800)801-0777.

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