What to Do

What To Do If You’ve Experienced Sexual or Domestic Violence

First, please know that nothing that has happened to you is your fault, and you are not alone, no matter what.

  1. Make sure you’re in a safe place. If you’re not in a safe place that should be your first priority. If you need help or a ride call police, a friend, family, or other support right away.
  2. You can always call your local Sexual Assault or Rape Crisis Center for support, information and help. Someone from the center can go with you to the hospital or to report to police. They can help you get a ride if you need it.
  3. You CAN go to the hospital and have evidence collected, any injuries treated, and get emergency contraception or other medication you might need, even days after a rape.  After 72 hours there may be less evidence to collect, but it is still best to get an exam done.
    • Rape kit exams are FREE, and the hospital does NOT have to call the police unless you want them to.
    • You can always ask for an advocate from your local crisis center to be with you for the exam and when talking with doctors or police.
    • When you go into the hospital, ask for a SANE Nurse. This is a nurse who specializes in working with rape survivors.

Evidence Can Be Preserved By

  • Not smoking
  • Not showering, bathing or washing hands
  • Not eating, drinking or brushing teeth
  • Not combing hair or cleaning under nails
  • Not going to the bathroom. This is especially important if drugs may have been used.
  • Not changing clothes. If you do change, put all of the clothes into PAPER BAGS to take to the hospital.
  • Try to recall details of the event and the attacker's appearance, height, clothing, words, etc. It may help to write it out.

Everyone deals with trauma differently. There is no ‘right’ way to act after being raped or abused. If you want to speak to a therapist or advocate your local crisis center can help you find someone to talk to for free. Survivors often forget or skip caring for themselves physically, it’s important to eat, drink water, rest, and, if you’re up to it, exercise to stay healthy as your body is healing. Advocates at your local crisis center can help you with a self-care plan. Keeping a journal can also be a great way to get your emotions out in a safe, private way. No matter what know that there are always people who support and care about you.

Check out our ‘Help in Tennessee’ page for contact information to your local crisis center.