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Sexual Abuse or Assault

After a sexual assault

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Call 911 if you feel threatened or need immediate help.

If you’ve been sexually assaulted

If you’ve been sexually assaulted, remember the assault was not your fault. Here are steps to take after a sexual assault:

  • Find a safe place to go.
  • Go to a doctor or visit your nearest Emergency Department. Even if you don’t see or feel a physical injury, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider about the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia and HIV.
  • Keep evidence from the assault if you are thinking about reporting it. It’s best not to wash, shower, bathe, wipe after you pee or change your clothes until you have had a medical exam.

Medical care and help

You can have medical care and treatment even if you decide not to report the assault to the police. You can also choose whether or not to have an exam with a sexual assault examination kit. A sexual assault examination kit includes a physical exam and the collection of specimens after a sexual assault.

Your options for care and reporting are:

  • You have medical care but the sexual assault is not reported to the police and no samples collected for a sexual assault examination kit.
  • You have medical care and the sexual assault is reported to the police and samples are collected for the kit.
  • Some places may give you the option to have samples collected for the kit and store them until you decide if you want to report the assault to the police. This is also called a “third option”.

There are many resources to help you recover from a sexual assault. Find out about getting help where you live.

Taking care of yourself

Taking care of yourself is an important part of your recovery. You can do the following things to help take care of yourself:

  • Go to all follow-up medical appointments.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day.
  • Exercise. Even small amounts of exercise can help you feel better and lower your stress.
  • Get support from family and friends. Spend time with family or friends who you’re comfortable with and enjoy being with.
  • Get counselling. Talk to a professional counsellor or go to a support group to help you heal.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse or assault and are having trouble coping, you may have post-traumatic stress. Learn about post-traumatic stress disorder.

If a child has been sexually abused or assaulted

If a child tells you that they have been sexually abused or assaulted, stay calm and thank them for telling you. Tell the child that you believe them and that you will do your best to keep them safe. Report the abuse or assault to the local police or a child protective services agency.

Find out more about sexual abuse and assault in children.​


Current as of: June 23, 2020

Author: Sexual and Reproductive Health Services, AHS