If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, it’s important to take steps to protect your rights and well-being. This next steps guide for victims of sexual assault will provide comprehensive information on the immediate and long-term actions you can consider, including legal options.

At the Silva Injury Law, we understand the sensitive nature of these situations and are here to offer compassionate support and legal guidance.

Immediate Steps to Take After a Sexual Assault

Immediate steps after experiencing sexual assault are crucial for both your physical well-being and the potential legal process. Here’s a next steps guide for victims of sexual assault explaining what you should do immediately after sexual assault. 

Ensure Safety

If you’re still near the assault, move to a safe location as soon as possible. This could be a friend’s house, a public place with people around, or anywhere you feel secure. Call 911, if you’re in immediate danger or need medical assistance. Emergency services can dispatch help to your location, including police and medical professionals.

Seek Medical Attention

Receiving medical attention is a good idea for your personal health and well-being and can strengthen your case against the assailant. 

  • Go to a Hospital: It’s crucial to seek medical care after a sexual assault, even if you don’t have visible injuries. Go to the nearest hospital or healthcare facility that provides services for sexual assault survivors.
  • Get a Forensic Exam: A forensic exam, often referred to as a rape kit, can collect evidence that may be useful if you decide to report the assault to law enforcement. This exam should ideally be done within 72 hours of the assault
  • Medical Assessment: A healthcare provider will assess your physical well-being, check for injuries, and address any immediate health concerns. They can also provide emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Please note that if you did not receive medical attention and weeks, or even years have passed, you still have every right to take legal action. 

Preserve Evidence

Try not to bathe, shower, brush your teeth, or change clothes before seeking medical care. These actions can wash away important evidence that could support your case.

If possible, save the clothing you were wearing during the assault. Place them in a paper bag (not plastic) to preserve any potential evidence like DNA or fibers. Consider taking photos of any visible injuries, bruises, or marks on your body. This documentation can be valuable for legal purposes.

Seek Support

Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, counselor, or support hotline. It’s important to have emotional support and someone to talk to about what happened. Consider contacting the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) for confidential support, information, and referrals to local resources.

Related: Resources for Victims of Sexual Assualt in California

File a Report

We recommend reporting the assault to law enforcement. To do so, you can contact your local police department or go to the nearest police station. You have the right to make a report even if some time has passed since the assault.

Seek Legal Advice

Consulting with an experienced attorney who specializes in sexual assault cases can provide valuable guidance on your legal rights, options, and the potential outcomes of reporting the assault.

These immediate steps are crucial for your well-being, safety, and potential legal recourse. It’s important to prioritize your physical and emotional health during this challenging time.

Long-Term Steps and Legal Considerations

Contacting an experienced attorney is an important step in understanding your legal rights and options. At the Silva Law Firm, we offer confidential consultations to discuss your case and determine if you have grounds for a civil claim. There are some things you should take into consideration that may drive your strategy for recovery. 

Statute of Limitations

In California, there are time limits, known as statutes of limitations, for filing sexual assault claims. It’s crucial to be aware of these deadlines as they vary depending on the circumstances of the assault. Our attorneys can provide guidance on how these laws apply to your case.

Criminal vs. Civil Claims

It’s essential to understand the differences between criminal and civil sexual assault claims. A criminal case is pursued by the state and focuses on punishing the perpetrator, while a civil case allows you to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Benefits of Filing a Civil Lawsuit

Filing a civil claim can empower you to hold the perpetrator accountable in civil court, where the burden of proof is lower than in criminal cases. Additionally, a civil claim can provide financial support for your recovery and send a message that sexual assault will not be tolerated.

Why Take Legal Action?

Taking legal action is not only about seeking justice for yourself but also about standing up against sexual violence and protecting others from similar experiences. It sends a powerful message that perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.

Pursuing a civil claim empowers survivors to seek justice and hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. It provides a legal avenue to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, therapy costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, which can aid in the healing process. Additionally, filing a lawsuit can send a powerful message that sexual assault will not be tolerated, potentially preventing future incidents and promoting accountability within communities. Importantly, it gives survivors a voice and the opportunity to reclaim their sense of control and dignity after such a traumatic experience.

Contact an Experienced Sexual Assault Attorney

If you’re a survivor of sexual assault or seeking guidance on behalf of someone else, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Silva Injury Law. Our compassionate team of attorneys is dedicated to advocating for survivors and helping them navigate the legal process with care and expertise.

This next steps guide for victims of sexual assault can be a good starting point. Still, we encourage you to take meaningful action and contact us today for a confidential consultation to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

Remember, you are not alone, and resources and support are available to help you through this difficult time. Taking proactive steps can lead to healing, justice, and empowerment.

Questions about a sexual assault claim? Talk to Cassidy About Your Case Or, call our office 24/7 at 209-600-4389