"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you
cannot do."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

What to Do If You Are Sexually Assaulted

Find immediate help

Your safety and care come first

If you have been sexually assaulted and are looking for guidance, please consider the following:

Preserving evidence

You may not know right now whether you will contact the police. But in case you later decide to, the evidence available immediately after the assault is crucial. To preserve evidence follow these recommendations:

  • Do not shower, bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, use the toilet or clean up in any way.

Evidence collection is important and covered by medical privacy

With a thorough medical exam evidence can be collected at your local hospital. In Minnesota you can complete the evidence collection process even if you are unsure about reporting the incident to law enforcement. The county is obligated to pay for all evidence collection in a sexual assault evidence exam.

  • Do not change or destroy clothing. Your clothes may be evidence.
  • If the assault occurred in your home, do not rearrange and/or clean up anything. You could destroy evidence.

Victim rights

In 1983 the Minnesota Legislature passed the Minnesota Crime Victim Bill of Rights. An advocate from a rape crisis center, helpline or advocacy program in your community can assist you in exercising these rights.

You have the RIGHT to be notified of:

  • Plea agreements
  • Changes in court schedules, date, time and place of plea hearings and sentencing
  • Release of offender from prison/institution
  • Victim rights

You have the RIGHT to participate in prosecution:

  • Right to inform court of impact of crime at the time of sentencing
  • Right to have input in pre-trial diversion program
  • Right to object to plea bargain
  • Right to request a speedy trial
  • Right to bring a supportive person to all hearings
  • Right to attend plea hearing
  • Right to attend sentencing
  • Right to give written objections to sentence

You have the RIGHT to protection from harm:

  • Threatening or tampering with a witness is against Minnesota law
  • Witnesses do not have to give their addresses in court
  • Victims have the right to a secure waiting room during court
  • Employers may not discipline or dismiss victims or witnesses who are called to testify in court

You have the RIGHT to apply for financial assistance:

  • Victims may be eligible for financial assistance from the state or from the offender, if they have suffered economic loss.

Help is available

Getting back to normal can take a long time and you may be wondering if there is anyone who can help. Many survivors have found it helpful to talk to rape crisis counselors. Rape crisis centers are on call 24-hours a day waiting to help you.

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