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Sexual assault: Care instructions

Sexual Assault

Your care instructions

Sexual assault is any type of sex or sexual touching that's unwanted. A sexual assault may include force, physical force, threats, or intimidation. Sexual assault is an act of violence that uses sexual acts as a weapon.

Many people who are assaulted believe that it’s their fault it happened. It’s important to remember that the assault wasn’t your fault. It’s normal to feel sad or afraid, and these feelings may stop you from wanting to get help. You can get support from experts in sexual assault care who understand these concerns.

Follow-up care is an important part of your treatment and safety. Your healthcare provider may have asked you to come to a follow-up appointment or have bloodwork done. It’s important to go to these appointments. Make sure to call your healthcare provider if you’re having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicine you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If you don’t have a safe place to stay, tell your sexual assault care provider, as they can help.
  • It may help to speak with a counsellor trained in sexual violence, join a support group, or search the internet for a support group to help you deal with your feelings about the assault. Your police department, hospital, or clinic may have information on shelters and safe homes.
  • To protect sexual partners from getting an infection, consider using barrier protection until all follow-up testing is completed which takes about 3 months.
  • It’s normal to be anxious or afraid to have intercourse after a sexual assault. Please talk to your care provider or doctor if you have concerns.


Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine for you. It’s important to take all medicine as prescribed.

  • You may be prescribed antibiotics to help prevent any infection that might happen from the sexual assault.
  • You may be prescribed medicine to help prevent a pregnancy. The emergency contractive pill (ECP), also called the morning after pill, is offered to prevent pregnancy. ECP may not bring your period right away. Your period may come early or late, but it will come in the next 4 weeks. You may also have spotting or bleeding between periods after taking ECP. If you don’t get your period when it’s due or within 4 weeks of taking ECP, have a pregnancy test done. Your healthcare provider or a Birth Control Centre/Sexual Health Centre can do this test.
  • You may be prescribed medicine to help prevent HIV (the virus that causes AIDS).
    • It’s important to take this medicine exactly as prescribed.
    • If you stop taking the medicine before 28 days, you may not be protected from getting HIV.
    • Stopping the pills can also cause problems with treatment later on, so it’s important to take all the medicine, keep all follow-up appointments, and have all follow-up tests done.
    • You may have side effects from the medicine. Your doctor can tell you what to expect and what you can do to feel better.
  • You may be given a shot (vaccine) to prevent hepatitis B, which is spread through sexual contact. If you haven’t had the hepatitis B vaccine before, you'll need 2 more shots to finish the series.

When should you call for help?

If you have questions or concerns or feel that you need to speak with someone, please call a sexual assault centre, speak with your healthcare provider, or call Health Link.

To see this information online and learn more, visit


Related to Sexual Assault

For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information, call Health Link at 811.

Current as of: June 26, 2020

Author: Sexual and Reproductive Health, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.