What to do
What to do if you know someone is being abused
Guidelines for Talking to a Victim of Abuse
With child abuse, the child might have been threatened physically by the offender and told them that bad things might happen to them and their family if they ever told anyone about the abuse. Make sure the child knows that they are safe and protected.
What to do if you think or know a child is being abused
Guidelines for Child Abuse
What to do if you are being abused
Know that you are not alone and that the abuse is not your fault. If you are experiencing abuse or harassment from your partner, help is available.
Know that you are not alone and that the abuse is not your fault. Help is available.
1. Make sure you are safe
After a sexual trauma, the most thing is to make sure you are safe. Most people experience shock and the feeling of being overwhelmed after an assault. Survivors can use coping mechanisms to help them feel comfortable in the face of a stressor or trigger that came from the assault. Make sure you have a support system that will be there for you.
2. Reach out for support
Once you feel more physically safe, it’s important to connect with a person you trust for support. After shock, sexual trauma survivors often experience depression, anxiety and dissociation. Talk to someone you trust to help you and support you. If you do not feel comfortable talking to anyone or don’t have someone you trust, call a crisis hotline such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Hotline operators are trained to offer support, hear your story, connect you with resources for treatment and provide you with information on how to report the crime.
3. Consider your medical options
Many survivors may be reluctant to pursue medical attention in the immediate wake of a sexual assault. It is ultimately up to you and what you decide to do regarding your physical and psychological needs.
You may choose to go to a hospital or a medical rape center after an assault. This can be beneficial for many reasons. Health care workers can help treat injuries and ensure that your health. Medical professionals can also provide you with a rape kit, which is a sexual assault forensic exam that can be used to collect DNA, blood samples and other evidence. Victims who chose to get the rape exam are encouraged not to shower, change clothes, and come in within 72 hours. If you are not ready to file a police report, they can freeze the evidence from the rape kit and store it for when you are.
4. Process your experience
Many survivors never want to talk about their experiences today. Survivors are encouraged to engage in coping habits such as journaling, meditating, and walking so they can process their trauma. It is also recommended that you should seek out a clinician who is specifically trained to address sexual trauma. Your memory of the trauma can change and each time you remember it, your brain can make new associations. Therapists can give you a safe space to talk and remember your trauma over time and heal.
5. Consider legal options
You have the right to file a police report or prosecute your assailant. Some survivors choose this path immediately, while some may be reluctant to. Some survivors don’t want to report their assault because it is someone they know or because they feel anxious and shameful about what others may think of them. The idea of talking and reliving their trauma by filing a report also makes survivors reluctant to report their assault.
6. Reconnect to life
Process your trauma in your own time. Therapy and a sense of community is important, but only you knows what is best for you and your wellbeing.