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After an Assault

Immediate Well-Being Following an Assault

A sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor, and these suggestions for survivors to make at their own discretion, can start a process of recovery. The order here is merely a suggestion, not a rule.  

Ensure your safety first. Find a safe space away from the attacker. You might ask a roommate, friend, RA, or somebody else to accompany you. More important than anything below is your safety.

Collect as much evidence as you can. Please be aware of the following suggestions, even if you have not decided to press charges, in case you wish to do so later. Realize too that your memory is evidence: you can use your cell phone or electronic device to record any details you can recall. The DNA that the police or hospital staff can collect is vital for any investigation, for identifying the attacker (DNA is better than a finger print), or even providing you with the best health care. Some ways to help preserve DNA might include refraining from the following:

  • Bathing and showering
  • Changing your clothes (and if you go to the hospital, you can put on fresh clothes there)
  • Cleaning or straightening up the crime scene
  • Combing your hair
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Moving anything the attacker might have touched, used, eaten or drunk from

Contact the William & Mary Police or local police where you are. 911 or (757) 221-4596 (WMPD) or 911 elsewhere.

  • You can waive the right to a formal police investigagtion, though the university might want to conduct its own investigation (regarding campus safety and your well-being)
  • You can call Avalon in Williamsburg at (757) 258-5051 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE, and somebody at either line can answer your questions about reporting sexual assaults.

Get help from the ER or Student Health Center immediately. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of acquiring a sexually transmissible infection (STI), and some women and some trans men may also be at risk for pregnancy.

  1. If you are near the Williamsburg campus, you can go to Sentara Regional.  If you are not in Williamsburg, you can find a local hospital or healthcare facility that can collect forensic evidence by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE.
  2. If you call ahead, or when you arrive, ask that they conduct a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit, which is part of a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, also known as SAFE.
  3. If you think you were drugged, you can mention that and ask for a urinalysis.

Know that healing varies from person to person and takes time. If you need some assistance in the recovery process, you can go to the Counseling Center or you can call Avalon in Williamsburg at (757) 258-5051.