First, understand that ANYONE can be a victim of sexual assault. It can be perpetrated by ANYONE. It is NEVER the victim’s fault.

You are not alone. You survived something horrific, and now it is time to take care of you.


  1. Get away from the danger
  2. Get to a well-lit area or a public place


  1. Reach out to a trusted loved one — a friend or family member — so they can help you
  2. If you cannot reach out to someone you know:
    1. Find a local center near you: (
      1. Or call (800) 656-HOPE (4653) to find out about getting an advocate to assist you
      2. If you are in the Phoenix Metro area, call Trauma Healing Services at (480) 736-4949


Ask for a SANE Nurse (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner)

  1. Not every facility has a SANE so it’s important to call (800) 656-HOPE (4653) to find out where to go
  2. SANE can do a rape kit
  3. SANE can provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial

Rape Kit (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam)

  1. What to Know
  2. A rape kit is a physical kit which can be taken up to 120 hours after an attack (5 days)
  3. It includes equipment such as:
    1. Evidence bags
    2. Instructions
    3. Forms
    4. Materials for DNA samples
    5. And more
  4. The exam we know as a “rape kit” is also known as: a “SAFE: Sexual Assault Forensic Exam”

According to on Sexual Assault Evidence Collection (page 13):

“A sexual assault medical forensic examination typically includes a medical history, a physical examination, treatment for injury, and prophylactic treatment for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. If a victim chooses, forensic evidence is also collected through the use of a sex crimes evidence kit. Sexual assault medical forensic examinations are typically performed by a medical forensic examiner, if available, or at a local hospital emergency room.

  1. Victims have a right to receive a forensic examination and have evidence collected, even if they do not want to participate in the criminal justice process.

  2. Medical facilities will perform an examination to any person stating they have been assaulted within the previous 120 hours.
  3. Victims cannot be billed for the examination and evidence collection. A.R.S. § 13- 1414 requires the county to pay for all sexual assault examinations.”

If possible, in order to preserve any forensic evidence, try to avoid:

  • Going to the bathroom
  • Bathing
  • Showering
  • Brushing hair
  • Changing clothes
    • If possible, bring a change of clothes when you get the rape kit done

If you have already done any of these things, the exam can still be performed. 

If you have already changed clothes:

  • Put the clothes you were wearing when the rape happened into a paper bag (not plastic) to preserve evidence
  • Sheets, blankets, or anything else that may contain DNA can also be used as evidence

It is NOT necessary to report the crime in order to get a rape kit. If the crime is reported later, a rape kit can be incredibly useful.

  • It is different by state how long a survivor has to decide to report after a rape kit
  • Some states destroy the rape kits when no report is made
  • Time can also degrade a rape kit
  • Important info about rape kits

What Happens During the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (Rape Kit)?

  1. Any injuries requiring immediate care will be taken care of first
  2. A medical history is compiled, including any consensual sexual history
  3. You will be asked about the details of the assault
    1. This is often the hardest part for survivors
    2. Important note on survivor recall:
      • A survivor may not remember everything or everything in the right order
      • A survivor’s brain is still in shock and swamped with stress hormones — this is totally normal
    3. A full-body examination will be conducted, which may include pictures to document injuries
    4. There are certain conditions in which reporting the crime may be mandatory, including if the survivor is a minor
    5. The exam may take a few hours but the duration can vary depending on several factors of the injuries or the case
    6. Prevention treatment for STIs, unwanted pregnancy, and other types of medical care are provided

Don’t Worry about the Healthcare Costs

  • You are more important than money
  • The forensic exam (rape kit) will be free as required by the Violence Against Women Act
  • If there are any costs for medical care outside of the exam and financial help is needed:
    • Many organizations nationwide help survivors pay for medical treatment needed because of an assault
      • Often,  victim compensation funds require the survivor to report the crime within 72 hours
      • has helpful info about Receiving Medical Attention
    • An internet search can often produce local organizations meant to help survivors
      • Eve’s Place is an organization dedicated to survivors in Maricopa County, Arizona

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Be Patient with Yourself

Trauma can cause long-lasting effects to your mind and behaviors that may not make much sense. Finding someone to talk to who is trained in trauma-informed therapy is important. Locate a local center near you, or if you are in Arizona, call Trauma Healing Services (480) 736-4949 for free trauma-informed therapy.

Take Care of Yourself Emotionally

  • Be strategic about creating a plan for emotional self-care
  • Try to find activities that are fun or relaxing – such as taking a bath or dancing to happy music
  • Journal – write down your thoughts and feelings to help heal your soul, body, mind, emotions
  • Mindfulness meditation to help you stay in the present and know you are safe
    • There are many apps and YouTube videos that explain and use mindfulness meditation
    • There is no fancy equipment needed; mindfulness can be simply getting comfortable and counting your breaths for a few minutes
  • Spend time with healthy people, loved ones who support you and make you feel loved
  • If you are in crisis, reach out for support
    • hotline
    • Crisis text line
      • Text HOME to 741741 anywhere in the US
        • Anywhere in the US
        • Anytime
        • About any type of crisis
        • Answered by a trained crisis counselor

Therapy Is Often Helpful for Survivors

Therapy can be extremely helpful in dealing with the aftereffects of trauma, such as nightmares, flashbacks, dissociation, relationship difficulties, and more. No one should be forced to go to therapy as it is a choice from the survivor.

Not all therapy includes medication, but it can be helpful as you learn to face, process, and heal the trauma. Always make sure your therapist is trauma-informed, which means they are trained in how to interact with clients who need care with PTSD and trauma-related issues.

Going to therapy is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of deepest strength.

Most commonly, more than one type of therapy is used at a time for a client (all should be trauma-informed). There are several programs that will help pay for a survivor’s healing, and every state has free trauma therapy for victims of interpersonal violence. Kick at Darkness raises support for this healing for survivors.

Different types of therapy:

  • Talk therapy
  • EMDR
  • Group therapy (including support groups and family therapy)
  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • And more

Take Care of Yourself Physically

Trauma is exhausting: both the physical aspect and the energy it takes to feel all the emotions. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and recharging.


Whether it’s a walk around the block or a full-blown work-out, exercise can help your body feel better – just don’t overdo it.

Try to keep to a routine

It will help you feel in-control and often it will help sleep patterns, something usually disrupted after trauma

Remember that it’s okay to care about yourself — you are worth it

  • Get out of bed
  • Brush your hair and your teeth
  • Take a shower
  • Don’t stop doing things that make you feel good – you deserve it

Remember, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is a difficult time, and you have been through so much. AND you survived. The worst is over.

Now, take care of yourself as you heal.

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