What to Do if You or Someone You Know has been Sexually Assaulted
What to do if you have been sexually assaulted:
- Go to a safe location away from the perpetrator.
Preserve all evidence of the assault.
- Do not bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, eat, or smoke.
- If you are still at the location of the crime, do not clean or straighten up or remove anything from your surroundings.
- Reach out for help.
If you or someone you know is in imminent danger, contact military law enforcement or local police immediately. Local police can be reached by calling 911 in most areas inside the United States.
For a phone number for military law enforcement near you, please click here to go to Safe Helpline's search function, and insert your zip code; or call Safe Helpline. The staff can get a number for you.
You have options about how to report the crime. For more information on Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting, click here.
- Safe Helpline can also connect you with the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)/Victim Advocate (VA) on your installation/base, and other military and civilian resources in your area. For more information on how to connect to Safe Helpline, click here.
- Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (women may also be at risk of pregnancy).
- Ask the health care personnel to conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE).
- If you suspect you have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected to preserve evidence.
It's never too late to get help. Even if the attack happened years ago, Safe Helpline can still help. Many victims don't choose to access help until months or years later. Get help online or call 877-995-5247 (the phone number is the same inside the U.S. or via the DSN).
How to help someone you know who has been recently sexually assaulted:
Work with the victim to ensure they are in a safe location away from the perpetrator.
- If there is an immediate threat to the victim's safety, offer to contact military law enforcement or local police immediately.
- If the victim requires emergency medical care, offer to call 911 (insde the U.S.) or your installation/base's emergency medical care services on their behalf. If the victim requires medical attention but not emergency care, offer to help the victim get to a medical provider as soon as possible.
- Offer to stay with the victim. Victims are often reluctant to be alone after enduring an attack. Accompany the victim to the hospital or other places if he or she so desires.
- If someone you know has questions about reporting the crime and available options, getting information from Safe Helpline can help. Get help online or call 877-995-5247. The phone number is the same inside the U.S. or via DSN.
- Safe Helpline can also connect you with the SARC/VA on your installation/base, and other military and civilian resources in your area. To find this information you can search online or text your zip code or installation/base name to 55-247 (inside the U.S.) or 001-202-470-5546 (outside the U.S.).
Ongoing support -- be there and listen.
- Listen. Be there. Communicate without judgment.
- If the survivor seeks medical attention or plans to report, offer to be there. Your presence can offer the support they need.
- Encourage the survivor to get support. Share resources like Safe Helpline, but realize that only they can make the decision to get help.
- Be patient and help empower the victim. Remember, there is no timetable for recovering from trauma. Avoid putting pressure on them to engage in activities they aren't ready to do yet.
- Encourage them to practice good self-care during this difficult time.
- If someone you care about is considering suicide, learn the warning signs, and offer help and support. For more information about suicide prevention, please visit the Veteran's Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 800-273-8255 and press 1 anytime, day or night.
- To search for your local base/installation or civilian resources, click here.
- Most Military members have options about how to report the crime. For more information on Restricted and Unrestricted Reporting, click here.
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