Help For Sexual Assault Survivors
Knowing what to do after you become the victim of a sexual assault is critical to not only your physical and mental well-being but also for holding your abuser accountable. If you’ve unfortunately been sexually assaulted, it is normal to be scared. But please remember, you are not alone. Although it’s a painful process, it’s important to report the crime and get the help you need. As with many victims of sexual assault, it is essential to remember that the abuse was not your fault, and you have every right to hold your abuser accountable. There is help available for you and other victims of sexual assault. Reaching out to the proper organizations will allow you to tap into this support.
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At Bachus & Schanker, our team of sexual assault lawyers is committed to helping victims seek the justice they deserve. Our victim advocates have helped countless victims of sexual assault seek out resources and support during a time of overwhelming trauma. We are so sorry this has happened to you, and our law firm is committed to your well-being and safety, and we offer confidential consultations to all victims of sexual assault crimes.
What To Do If You Are A Victim Of Sexual Assault
For many victims of sexual assault, it can be a daunting process to report the crime. If you are feeling scared, ashamed, or to blame for your assault, it’s important to remember that it is not your fault. While an abuser may have exerted power over you while you were at your most vulnerable, you can take back this power by alerting law enforcement of the crime and taking legal action against your abuser.
If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, it’s essential to do the following:
- Contact law enforcement – Immediately after the crime, or once you reach a place where you are safe to do so, contact your local authorities and explain to them what has happened. If you are unable to call local authorities, ask a witness, a bystander, or a trusted friend or loved one to call the authorities on your behalf. Authorities are a critical help for sexual assault survivors, and they can help you hold your abuser criminally accountable.
- Seek medical attention – It’s important to seek out medical attention whether or not you have visible physical injuries. If you have been assaulted, a medical professional may be able to conduct a rape kit or any other medical treatment that can help collect pertinent DNA from your abuser. This DNA can be used against your abuser in a court of law and can hold them criminally accountable for their actions.
- Avoid taking a shower – Although this is a terribly painful and overwhelming experience, if you are unable to seek medical attention immediately after the assault, please do not shower, eat, or change your clothes until you can seek medical attention or be examined by law enforcement. This allows you to preserve as much DNA evidence from your attacker as possible. This can be especially important if the attacker is someone you do not know.
- Seek support – Support will be critical to your healing process. Please remember you do not have to go through this alone. There is help for sexual assault victims. You can find support in your family and friends, a therapist, and national and state-recognized organizations designed to help sexual abuse survivors like you. The Nationwide Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) are two organizations that can help you get in touch with critical support groups and other resources in your community. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is another critical resource that connects you with a trained professional 24/7. You can reach them at 1-800-656-HOPE.
- Seek legal representation – The sexual assault attorneys at Bachus & Schanker understand what it means to preserve pertinent evidence, represent victims, and compile DNA, documentation, and other pieces of evidence that can be used to hold your perpetrator responsible for their actions. At Bachus & Schanker, our specialized Victim’s Advocate team will work with you throughout the entirety of your case so that you get the support and legal representation you deserve. Contacting a sexual assault lawyer at Bachus & Schanker enables you to not only seek justice. You can also pursue legal action against your perpetrator for restitution and damages, including the pain and suffering your abuser caused you.
Ways To Support A Loved One Who Was Sexually Abused
Often a victim of sexual assault will only reach out once for help. If they reach out to you, your reaction is important. When considering how to help a sexual assault victim, you can offer support in different ways. Depending on their age, the trauma they are experiencing, when the assault happened, and their openness to talk about their experience, some methods may work better than others. Below are common tactics to consider as you work with your loved one through this difficult time.
- Listen to them and believe them
- Remain calm
- Let your friend know he or she is not alone
- Let your friend know it is not his or her fault
- Empower them by being there for them
- Encourage counseling and other resources
- Keep confidentiality
- Respect their decisions and boundaries
Please see Helping A Loved One Who Just Went Through The Trauma Of Sexual Abuse for more details on ways to support a loved one.
Your Options To Seek Justice
All survivors of sexual abuse have the right to live a happy and fulfilling life. Do not let the actions of an abuser define your life. You have the power to take control, hold your abuser accountable, and live the life you want and deserve.
How To Support A Survivor. 2023.
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Written and Legally Reviewed By: Kyle Bachus
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Kyle is a member of the Colorado and Florida Bar associations and has served on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association for more than twenty years in total. Over the years, Kyle has achieved justice for many clients. He has served on numerous committees and repeatedly won recognition from his peers at both the state and national level. He is proud of the role he has played in the passage of state and national legislation to protect consumers and is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer.