You may be experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-blame, fear, anger, numbness, mistrust, loss of control all these feeling are normal. You are not alone.
What if I'm afraid to get help?
Fear is a natural reaction, which in turn leads to confusion and distrust. You may struggle with:
- Fear of police, going to court – what will they do with the information I give them?
- Fear that people will find out including family, partner, etc.
- Fear of being judged
- Fear of retribution
- Fears of the unknown – what will happen next? Will people believe me?
Should I call the police?
You do not need to call the police if you do not want to. Some victims feel that by law, they need to call the police or that others such as the hospital Emergency Department are legally obligated to call the police on their behalf. Nobody helping you will call the police without your consent except in specific circumstances (for example, assaults on minors).
If you do decide to make a report to the police, you will talk to police about the incident giving as much detail as possible. It is okay to bring a friend. Although we cannot give legal advice, we can support you by helping you understand the criminal justice process, prepare for court dates if necessary, and be with you at those court dates.
Should I get a forensic examination?
Forensic examinations are conducted at the Emergency Department by nurses trained in helping sexual assault and sexual abuse victims. The goal of the exam is to collect DNA and other evidence from the attacker after an assault. Often, photographs are taken and your clothes are collected (bring a change of clothes and shoes, if possible).
Some women choose to have an examination even if they are unsure whether or not to file a police report. The kit can be kept and frozen so that if they decide to press charges, the evidence is preserved.
If you are considering a forensic examination, DO NOT wash, shower, or change, your clothes as this will destroy evidence. Evidence can be collected up to 48-72 hours after the assault, though normally the earlier the examination, the more evidence will be collected.
It’s important to note that getting a forensic examination does not mean you have to contact the police – that’s still (and always) your decision.
I'm afraid I may become pregnant or become infected with a sexually transmitted disease. What should I do?
The Emergency Department at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit can provide you with options including medications to reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including Hepatitis B, and HIV.
You may also choose to take emergency contraception to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy.
Where can I get ongoing help?
Sexual assault and sexual abuse are traumatic events that can affect you mentally and emotionally long after the assault. It is normal to experience any number of negative consequences including sleeplessness, loss of appetite, loss of sexual drive, distrust of friends and family, guilt, isolation, and concern over how others in your life at home, work, and in the community may feel about the assault.