Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
1. I was just sexually assaulted – What now?
- It's not your fault. The person who did this to you is at fault. That person committed a criminal act.
- Go somewhere safe. Phone the police if you are in danger. Go to a friend or neighbour for help.
- Tell someone you trust. A friend, family member or teacher. Sexual Assault Care Centres have counsellors that are available to talk to you.
- You can choose to get medical care. Once injuries are treated, physicians can offer medication to protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and prevent pregnancy. It is important to get treatment within 72 hours.
- Save evidence. To save evidence, it is best collected within the 72 hours of the assault. Evidence has a tendency to deteriorate quickly, so if this is important to you, come and see us as soon as possible. And remember:
- It's natural to feel dirty after an assault.
- It is important that you do not wash, bathe or change your clothes until you have been looked after at the Emergency Department.
- Save anything that you might think is evidence. It may be important later.
- Think about calling the police. Telling the police does not mean you have to press charges or go to court. It does give them information they can use if you decide to press charges in the future.
- The time after a sexual assault is very confusing. Decisions are difficult. There are no right answers, only what is right for you.
2. What if I’m pregnant?
Generally, it is impossible to tell if you are pregnant for several days after a sexual assault happens. Talk to a nurse or doctor about your concern, or call us at the SA/DVCC. There is medication that can prevent a pregnancy from taking hold if taken within 72 hours. This medication called the Emergency Contraceptive Pill or Morning After Pill, is safe for almost any woman to take.
3. Will the hospital contact the police?
Reporting to the police is the decision of the survivor. Hospital staff will not report to the police without the permission of the survivor.
4. Why did this happen to me?
It is completely normal to wonder why this happened to you. Sexual assault happens to boys, girls, men, women, and transgendered people of all ages, races, sexual orientation, gender identity and cultural backgrounds. Sexual assault does not happen because of what someone wears or how they act. It doesn't happen because someone is rich or poor, young or old, popular or not. The offender may be someone the person knew, and even someone they trusted. The offender may have been a complete stranger.
A sexual assault happens when an offender chooses to assault someone – anyone.
So, if a sexual assault has happened to you, you are not to blame.
5. Can a guy get assaulted?
Many people believe that sexual assaults do not happen to males. That's not true. Studies done in Canada show that one in six males are sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday. Another study shows that males rarely tell anyone about the assaults.
Sexual assault can happen to males regardless of their age, whether they are "good-looking" or not, if they are gay or straight. Offenders don't care if their victims are intelligent, rich, or poor.
Male victims report that when they have told others about their sexual assault, they aren't often believed. If they are believed, they aren't taken seriously. Sexual assault can leave you, a male, feeling confused about your sexual identity, mistrustful of others, feeling angry, guilty, embarrassed and shamed. You may have flashbacks of the assault, nightmares, feel like hurting yourself or others.
It is really important to ask for help, even though it might be embarrassing.
Sexual assault is a crime. It's not your fault and you don't have to be alone. If you are in need of medical care or would like to meet with a counsellor, please contact us at the SA/DVCC.
6. Why tell?
I told someone about the sexual assault because . . .
- I didn't want this to happen to me again
- I didn't want this to happen to someone else
- The feelings kept building up inside of me, making me feel worse
- I wanted to take action against the person that assaulted me
- I was behaving differently at home and my family kept asking me what was wrong
- I realized that the problem was too big for me to deal with alone and I needed help
- I was having trouble eating
- I kept thinking about what happened and couldn't concentrate
- I was having trouble sleeping
- My friends couldn't figure out why I was acting different
- I hoped that by telling someone I would feel better
- I kept crying and my friends encouraged me to talk
- I needed some help deciding what to do
7. Why not tell?
Here are some reasons individuals who have been sexually assaulted didn't want to tell . . .
- I thought it was my fault
- I was too embarrassed
- I thought people would talk about me if they knew
- I was afraid. The offender said they would come back and hurt me if I told
- I thought no one would believe me
- I just want to forget about it
- I want to deal with this myself
- I was afraid to tell the police
- My family might get upset with me
- I can't let my partner/spouse find out
Here are some reasons specific to males . . .
- I was afraid people will think I'm a "wuss"
- I thought people might think that I'm gay
- I'm embarrassed that another guy touched me sexually
- The offender threatened to beat me up if I said anything
- I didn't realize what was happening
- I thought this person was my friend
- What if women won't like me anymore
If you are unsure if you want to tell anyone, you can consider a confidential call to the SA/DVCC. Many people who have experienced sexual assault or domestic abuse find it healing to share their experience with a trusted friend, family member or a counsellor. Only you know what is best for you.
8. How can a friend help?
- Listen: Listening to your friend without asking a lot of questions or giving advice is helpful. Simply being there can mean a lot to your friend.
- Believe: Believe what your friend tells you. Don’t make excuses for the offender. Be cautious with “why” questions, as they can make people feel guilty about what happened.
- Be supportive: Offer to go with your friend to get support.
- Be understanding: Tell your friend that what happened was not their fault. You may have to do this multiple times, as it can take a long time for someone to believe it. Express that the assault does not change your friendship or how you feel about them.
- Encourage: Encourage your friend to reach out to others who may be able to help. The situation is greater than any one person can handle. Allow the person to make their own decisions and choices. Respect what they want to do – even if you have a different opinion.
If you have any unanswered questions, call our clinic during business hours at 905-521-2100 ext. 73557
If you are in need immediate emotional support or resources, call SACHA'S crisis line at 905-525-4162.