Sexual assault is often one of the things that victims of domestic violence are most reluctant to talk about. However, it is very common that someone who has been abused by an intimate partner has also been sexually assaulted by them. Anytime your intimate partner forces you to engage in sexual acts when you don’t want to, it is a crime. This is true even if you are married to the person who is abusing you.
If you have been sexually assaulted by your partner, your first concern should be your health and safety.
- Get medical help as soon as possible to receive care for any injuries or for the potential of sexually transmitted diseases and possible pregnancy.
- Do not bathe, shower, douche, change clothes, or comb/spray hair until a health care provider tells you it’s OK.
- Also, don’t use the bathroom, gargle or drink anything.
These things should all be avoided because they could reduce the chance of obtaining evidence of the assault.
Your physical health and well-being is important and a health care provider can also help you find an advocate or counselor for additional support and help.
In addition to getting medical care, you can agree to have any injuries documented and evidence collected in case you want to report the crime to police, either immediately or at a later time.
If you choose to have any injuries documented and evidence collected, here are some important things you should know:
- A health care provider will collect and document the evidence.
- The clothes you are wearing may be kept as evidence.
- Once collected, evidence will be kept in a locked, separate and secure area at the health care facility for a minimum of one month, which gives you time to decide whether you want to report the assault to police.
- If you decide to report the crime, the evidence will be provided to the police.
Many domestic violence programs also have sexual assault services available. If you are currently working with an advocate from a domestic violence program, contact your advocate. If not, the program can refer you to a local sexual assault program (sometimes called a rape crisis center). If you are not working with a domestic violence advocate, you can call your local rape crisis center. In addition to crisis counseling, they can help you during the rape exam, if you decide to have one, and support you should you decide to pursue a criminal case.
If you chose not to go to the hospital when the assault happened, you can still be tested later for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Even if the sexual assault is not recent, free services, such as counseling and advocacy, are still available for you at any time.
For help with deciding where to go for medical help and/or support services in your community:
- Call the New York State Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline at 1-800-942-6906.
- Find a rape crisis or crime victim assistance program near you. https://ovs.ny.gov/locate-program
NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline
English & español, Multi-Language Accessibility National Relay Service for Deaf or Hard of Hearing: 711
CONFIDENTIAL 24 HRS/ 7 DAYS
In NYC: 311 or 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)