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First steps: What to do if you have been sexually assaulted

24-hour crisis counseling available through USC Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services by telephone at (213) 740-4900 – after hours press 0.

  • Go to a safe location.
  • Preserve all physical evidence of the assault, even if you are unsure whether you want to report the crime. Do not shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, wash your hands or brush your teeth until after you have had a medical examination. Save all clothing that you were wearing at the time of the assault and bring them and any other potential evidence to the medical exam. Place each item of clothing in a separate paper bag. Do not use plastic bags. Do not clean or disturb the area where the assault occurred. A forensic examination is one way to preserve evidence, but it is not the only way. You can easily take some important steps to preserve evidence by saving all text messages, emails, social media postings (taking screenshots can be helpful) or anything else that might relate to the assault, or that might be helpful later in reconstructing a timeline of events. Write down the names of people who might have seen you immediately before or after, as it’s easy to forget names or locations. Even if you do not want to participate in the investigative process now, you might later change your mind, so it’s helpful to preserve as much information as possible.
  • Get medical care as soon as possible.
    • If the assault has occurred within the last four days, go to the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center or another medical clinic that specializes in sexual assault examinations. USC Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services, as the designated Sexual Assault Resource Center, recommends the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center (310-319-4000), which is open 24 hours a day. The Rape Treatment Center can arrange for free transportation, when needed. It also provides free, confidential medical care and the collection of forensic evidence, if sought.  It also provides free crisis counseling. You may also request medications for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections (including HIV) and emergency contraception. Another option in Los Angeles is the Violence Intervention Program (323-226-3961). If you think you may have been given a rape drug, request that you give a urine and blood sample. These samples need to be collected quickly as these kinds of drugs leave the system quickly.
    • If more than four days have passed since the assault, go to the USC Engemann Student Health Center for medical care (including emergency contraception) and testing for sexually transmitted infections (213-740-9355). The Engemann Student Health Center cannot collect evidence.
  • Call a trusted friend, family member or someone else who can provide emotional support. Remember that professional counselors are available for you through USC Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services. These counselors also will accompany you to the medical clinic and/or through the reporting process upon your request. Call (213) 740-4900 – after hours, press 0 to reach a counselor.
  • Remember that you have a right to report the incident officially. See the section on reporting option for details.