The aftermath of an assault can be a whirlwind of confusion, fear, and uncertainty. If you’ve never been through this before, trying to navigate the intricacies of the situation can be challenging and scary.
Let this article provide some concrete steps on what to do next.
Immediate Steps to Take
The very first step is to make sure you’re out of harm’s way. If it’s safe to do so, leave the location where the assault occurred. This could look like running across the street and knocking on someone’s door, or it could involve simply retreating into a more public area.
You’ll then want to make a couple of phone calls. The first phone call should always be to law enforcement so that you can report the incident and have officers dispatched to the scene to protect you and help you file a report.
The second phone call should be to someone you trust. This could be a friend or family member. This person will provide some emotional support and safety, which is much-needed in the aftermath of an assault.
It’s difficult to think very far ahead at this point, but it’s important to note that there are lots of different legal avenues you can pursue here. So getting an attorney in the fold quickly is imperative.
“While whether or not your abuser faces criminal charges is a matter for the prosecution, you have the right to bring a civil case against him or her,” The Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC explains. “This is an important distinction to understand because it allows you to seek compensation for the damages that you’ve suffered at your attacker’s hand, including compensation for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and the pain and suffering you’ve endured.”
With that being said, calling an attorney can wait. Your next step is to make sure you’re okay.
Seeking Medical Attention
Your physical health is the number one priority in the aftermath of an assault. Even if you think you’re fine, it’s imperative that you seek immediate medical attention as soon as it’s feasible to do so.
Most people think doctors are just there to treat their injuries. However, in the case of an assault, they’re much more involved. When you visit a doctor for treatment, you create a record of the visit, as well as preserve vital evidence should you choose to report the assault to law enforcement and pursue some sort of legal action.
It’s also worth noting that physical injuries aren’t the only concern after you’ve been assaulted. You also have to consider how the events impact your mental health and emotional well-being. In many cases, an assault leads to depression, anxiety, fear, and PTSD. By getting medical attention right away, you can get a referral to a therapist or counselor who specifically works with assault victims. The sooner you address this component, the better your long-term recovery will be.
While it might be one of the last things on your mind after an assault, preserving evidence can be crucial for legal proceedings should you choose to report the incident.
Evidence in cases of assault can include a variety of elements. This could range from physical evidence, such as clothing, personal items, or any objects involved in the assault, to biological evidence like DNA samples. In addition, any visible injuries or signs of struggle at the location can be considered evidence.
- Try to avoid washing or changing your clothes, as they might contain valuable DNA evidence. If you need to change, place the worn clothes in a paper bag for safekeeping.
- Avoid cleaning the location where the assault occurred if it’s under your control.
- Take photographs of any visible injuries, both immediately after the assault and in the days that follow, to document the extent and progression of your injuries.
Finding the Right Support System
Once you’ve received treatment, contacted law enforcement, and found a lawyer, a lot of the pressure to “make smart choices” goes away. You can trust that your “team” will take it from here. From this point on, your primary objective is to focus on healing.
One of the best things you can do in the healing process is surround yourself with the right support system. You need people you can hug, cry with, and lean on for support. The road to recovery is a long one – and there are legal hurdles ahead – but having people in your corner makes everything better.