If It Happens to You
It isn't your fault. You didn't deserve or cause what happened. The person who abused or raped you is the one to blame.
There are no rules for what you should do if you are raped or abused. Your safety and survival are always the most important considerations. If you are still alive, you did the right thing. But you still may not feel safe. Here are some suggestions that can help you to heal both physically and emotionally:
• As soon as you can, try to get help. Find a safe place and call the police, a family member, a friend, or look in the telephone book blue pages for a rape crisis or domestic violence hotline (In Westmoreland County, PA, call Blackburn Center at 1-888-832-2272. National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-4673; national domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233). You do not need to give your name to speak with a hotline counselor.
• If you have been raped, consider going to a hospital, even if you don't think that you have been injured. You may have internal injuries, or have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease. You can also learn about your options concerning pregnancy. If you decide to go to the hospital:
◦ You will be examined for injuries, and evidence will be collected in case you decide to press
charges, either now or later. It will help if you do not shower, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth,
drink, eat, or destroy or wash any of the clothing you were wearing. Wear the clothes you were
wearing at the time of the assault to the hospital. Take a change of clothes with you because they
will probably keep the clothes you were wearing as evidence. To preserve evidence, try not to
disturb the scene of the assault.
◦ If you think you may have been drugged, tell the nurse and request a urine test. Don't go to the
bathroom until you get to the hospital; if you can't wait, catch the urine in a jar and bring it to the
hospital. Drugs are usually only detectable for the first 72 hours after ingestion. The first urine voided
is the best chance for proving a date rape drug was used, but it also will identify any other drugs that
are in your system.
◦ Hospitals are required to report any injury caused by a criminal act, such as a rape, to the police.
You can choose to speak to the police, refuse to speak with them, or make arrangements to speak
to them at a later time.
◦ A trained medical advocate can come to the hospital to provide information and emotional support.
If the hospital staff does not offer to get a medical advocate, you can ask them to call your local rape
crisis center to request one. In Westmoreland County, PA, call Blackburn Center at: 724-836-1122 or
• If you have been physically assaulted by an intimate partner or family member, consider going to the hospital if you have injuries that require medical treatment. A trained medical advocate can come to the hospital to provide information and emotional support. If the hospital staff does not offer to get a medical advocate, you can ask them to call your local domestic violence program to request one. In Westmoreland County, PA, call Blackburn Center at 1-888-832-2272 (TDD Available).
• Consider talking about what happened with people you trust and who care about you. They can help you to make and carry out a plan that will keep you safe from the person who harmed you, even if you have to go to school with that person.
• Consider talking to a counselor. You can call a confidential 24-hour hotline (In Westmoreland County, PA, call Blackburn Center at: 724-836-1122 or 1-888-832-2272) any time—immediately after the assault, the next day, months later, or even years after it happened.
The hotline counselor will help you to work through your feelings and fears, to recognize what you can do for yourself and how other people can help you, and make referrals for any other help that you believe you need.
PLEASE NOTE: Blackburn Center counselors are mandated by law to report child abuse (for anyone under the age of 18), as are other professionals who come into contact with children in the course of their business.
Call Blackburn Center at: 724-836-1122 or 1-888-832-2272 to reach a counselor 24/7.
National sexual assault hotline: 1-800-656-4673
National domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233.
You do not need to give your name to speak with a hotline counselor.
Learn More About Types of Abuse: