Sexual assault is traumatic and everyone’s response to it is different. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Survivors may feel scared, hurt, exhausted and unsure. They might also feel physical pain, both externally and internally plus may feel numb and in shock.
The following steps can help survivors and those that support them, figure out what to do next.
Following a sexual assault, it is natural to feel shocked, confused, and unable to make decisions.
1. Think about reaching out for help
This all may seem very confusing and making decisions can be difficult. Talking to someone that can provide support or has experience dealing with those that have been sexually assaulted may be helpful. Connect with a local sexual assault service or Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence or call 1-866-403-8000 or for emotional support, information, and referrals.
2. Consider Accessing Medical Care
Following a sexual assault, you may have external or internal injuries that require medical attention. You may also be at risk of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.
Go to the nearest hospital emergency room or urgent care centre as soon as possible. If that is not an option, see a family doctor or visit a walk-in clinic.
In some parts of the province there are Sexual Assault Response Teams. These are multidisciplinary teams that work together to support those who have recently experienced sexual assault (usually within 7 days or less – note that different teams across the province have different timelines).
Depending on the location, the team can include:
- A crisis worker and advocate from a sexual assault centre.
- A nurse and/or physician specially trained in sexual assault examination and evidence collection.
- Municipal Police, RCMP, or Tribal Police.
For information on where these teams are located, connect with a local sexual assault service or Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence.
3. Reporting to Police is an Option
Following a sexual assault, it’s natural to feel shocked, confused, and unable to make decisions.
It is common for people who have been sexually assaulted and the people around them to believe that they are required to report a sexual assault to the police. However, this is not the case. Often people who have been sexually assaulted have many factors to consider when deciding whether to report a sexual assault, including:
- the impact on themselves and their lives.
- the impact on family members, jobs, and social situations.
- when the one assaulted knows the person that sexually assaulted them, they may think about how it might impact that person.
- concerns about what the process will be like and what will be expected of them.
- fear of not being believed.
There is no right or wrong answer when deciding whether to report to the police. We know that the more information you have about the available options and about what to expect from the legal process, the more satisfied you will feel about your decision. It is important for you to make the decision that feels right for you.
- Reporting this to the Police is your decision and it is important to remember that talking to someone trusted, a hotline, or medical profession for support will help in making that decision.
Many sexual assault services in Alberta have a police and court support program that can provide information about reporting to police and the criminal legal system process which can help with making an informed decision. Connect with a local sexual assault service or Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence for more information.
Services in Rural Communities in Alberta https://endingviolencecanada.org/sexual-assault-centres-crisis-lines-and-support-services/