Practical guidance following rape or sexual assault

Part of: Victims of rape and sexual assault

If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault it is important to look after yourself. While you may feel that the last thing you want to do is go to a health clinic, seek advice or make difficult decisions, you may have to do so.

Medical help following an assault

If you have any physical symptoms after the assault you should get medical help. You don’t have to tell the doctor about the assault if you don’t want to. However, the doctor will be able to advise you better if they know what happened.

If you need emergency help, go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital. If it’s not an emergency, contact your GP for an appointment. If you are unsure whether your injury is serious or not, ask to speak to the doctor.

Sexually transmitted infections

If you have been sexually assaulted, you may be at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Often sexually transmitted infections can cause no symptoms, so you may have contracted an infection and not be aware of it.

Pregnancy

Whilst the risk of becoming pregnant after a one-off assault is small, you should be aware that it does exist. It depends on various factors, such as:

  • your age
  • whether you usually use certain methods of contraception
  • whether the attacker used a condom

If there is any risk of pregnancy, you can seek advice about emergency contraception as soon as possible and up to 72 hours after the assault. The sooner you take this, the more effective it is.

Emergency contraception is free from your GP, Out of Hours Service, the police doctor, hospital A&E department, GUM clinics, or family planning clinics. It can also be bought at most local chemists.

Reporting the assault

If you want to report the assault, contact the police so that a forensic examination can be arranged to get as much evidence as possible. For this reason, you are advised not to wash, eat or drink or use mouthwash or brush your teeth. If you change your clothes, put the clothes you have removed into a bag and give to the police.

Investigation and prosecution

You might not feel like reporting now, but you might do later on. So, keep the clothes you were wearing, don’t wash them, and put them in a plastic bag.

Your safety

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted you may be frightened, even if you have or have not reported the assault and even if the attacker has or has not been caught.

If your attacker knows where you live or is a family member, or a neighbour, you may prefer to move somewhere else temporarily or for the long term.

If you do not have anywhere safe to stay or if you (or any dependants) are at risk from your partner, ex-partner, or someone in your home or neighbourhood, you may be entitled to emergency and permanent housing. To find out more, you should contact the Housing Executive.

If you are in any immediate danger, contact the police. You can contact your local PSNI station, by dialling 101(if you are a Tesco mobile or giffgaff user call 028 9065 0222) or, in an emergency, dial 999.

 

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