Steps You Can Take If You’ve Just Been Raped or Sexually Assaulted

You have options–whether or not to report the assault, seek medical attention, and more.

1.  Carefully consider your options.

  • Medical attention is recommended, whether or not you report the assault.
  • You will be able to decide whether only to have a medical exam, called a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) using a type of kit, to test for any sexually transmitted diseases, address pregnancy risks, and meet other medical needs. The kit will be anonymous and used to gather all evidence. This kit and your file will be given a number only. No associated name will be used.  Once you are given the number, you will have a few months to decide whether or not you want to move forward and report to the police.
  • You will be able decide to report the rape or assault at the hospital. If you decide to do so, a police officer will come to visit you at the hospital, in order to take your statement of what happened.
    • If you are eighteen years or older, you have the right to decide whether or not you’d like to report the rape or assault. We strongly recommend that you talk to a confidential advocate before making any decision. It is important to carefully consider the consequences of your decision. Additionally, it is important to understand that your case will be investigated as soon as you speak to law enforcement, a representative of Title IX, college staff/faculty or security (if you are in college).
  • Regardless of which option you choose, a medical exam and any associated costs are paid for by the Vermont Center for Crime and Victim Services.

2. Call your local hotline to help you understand your options.

  • If you are located in Washington County, Vermont, call: 802-479-5577 to reach the Sexual Assault Crisis Team hotline. Here, the receptionist will collect just enough information for an advocate to meet you at the hospital emergency room.
  • Do not tell others the details of what happened to you; doing so means that they may need to become part of the investigation.
  • The Sexual Assault Crisis Team advocate is a confidential* advocate. They are also trained to explain all your options to you and support you in whatever way you choose. 
  • Anything you tell the advocate will be considered confidential* and will never be told to anyone else without your consent. If you give consent, an advocate will contact you the next day to further respond to your questions and support you during any other medical or legal systems advocacy you request.
    • *except in cases where child abuse or neglect is suspected

3. You may choose to preserve any available evidence in case you decide to report the assault. You may request a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examination) at the emergency department in order to collect evidence, and decide later whether or not you want to report. Prior to a SANE: do not clean yourself off or consume anything. This means you should not:

  • Change your clothes
  • Shower
  • Bathe
  • Douche
  • Brush/comb your hair
  • Brush your teeth
  • Wash your hands
  • Eat anything, including:
    – Chew or eat candy
    – Mints
    – Gum
  • Drink anything, including:
    – Water
    – Coffee
    – Mouthwash

4. If you have already removed the clothes you were wearing during the assault:

  • Fold them inward, into themselves.
  • Don’t shake them out or wash them.
  • Place them in a paper bag (be sure the bag is not plastic, as plastic will cause moisture and encourage mold-growth).
  • If you do not have a paper bag, place the clothes in a clean pillow case.

5. If the assault happened in your home or dorm room, do not clean up the room. Leave everything exactly as it was during the assault so that law enforcement can collect evidence to support your case.

6. If you choose to go to the hospital, bring the clothes you were assaulted in in a paper bag or clean pillow case, as well as a complete change of clothes (including socks, undergarments, and other clothes). If you are wearing the clothes you wore during the assault, since they are evidence, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner will take your clothes.

7. Whether or not you report the assault, help is available from advocates. SACT offers a variety of services to support people who have experienced sexual harm.