To help raise awareness and educate communities, April has been designated Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the United States.
Here are our top 5 ways to stay safe and help protect yourself:
- Stay alert. Walking while texting, listening to an iPod, or using an iTouch--especially at night--leaves you more vulnerable. Pay close attention to your surroundings and keep your instincts on high alert. At night, when you vision is limited, it is especially important to make use of your other senses and not tune out to the sounds and sights around you.
- Avoid walking alone at night. There is safety in numbers, and walking with a friend greatly reduces the chances of getting hurt. Staying in crowded and well-lit areas will also help keep you safer from an attack.
- Limit alcohol and don’t do drugs. Drink in moderation and always be in control of your actions. Alcohol and drugs prevent you from making smart choices and being alert to dangers around you.
- Always check who is at your door before opening it, and make sure your door is locked and ground-floor windows are closed at night. If someone at your door claims to be a serviceman you are not expecting, do not let him in. If you are unsure, call the company to check if they have sent someone to your home.
- Make sure someone knows where you are at all times, whether you are walking to a party, the library, or going off-campus to a bar.
- Keep important numbers saved in your house and cell phone, including 911 and the local police.
If you, your child or anyone you know is sexually assaulted, it is important to immediately get help and take steps to preserve evidence.
What to do after a sexual assault
- Get away from the attacker to a safe place as fast as you can—a friend or family member’s home, a nearby store, hospital, doctor’s office or police precinct.
- Call 911 or the local police. In addition, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault has a free 24/7 hotline 1-800-942-6906 to provide help, information, counseling and comfort.
- Preserve all evidence by avoiding showering, brushing your teeth, drinking, eating, combing your hair, or changing your cloths.
- If you have done any of these things, evidence can still be collected so it is important to seek medical attention. If you have changed your clothes, take the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault to the hospital in a paper bag (not a plastic bag).
- Get medical attention immediately. Assault victims should look to get treatment for any injuries that they may have sustained. Ask medical personnel to use a rape kit, which will provide biological and as well as physical evidence of the sexual assault. Victims may also want to get tested for STDs and obtain emergency contraceptives. Make sure to keep records for any medical treatments that you receive.
Being the victim of a sexual assault is an extremely traumatic experience. Close family and friends can provide emotional support and help victims get through the challenging times that often follow an assault.
If you or a family member is a victim of a sexual assault, it is also a good idea to seek legal advice. Assault victims may be able to file criminal charges and bring about civil lawsuits against the assailant as well as other parties who may be responsible for the attack.
How We Can Help
Our experienced and compassionate lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with sexual assault cases in the New York and Long Island areas. We have helped to serve victims as both a close companion and as competent legal advisers. In doing so, we have enabled victims to get monetary compensation for their physical and emotional injuries. If you or somebody you care for has been the victim of a sexual assault, please contact us with any questions or for a free, no-obligation consultation.