Jan. 20, 1994
Vol. 13, No. 10

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    What to do if you are sexually assaulted

    _ Remain as calm as possible. Take a mental photograph of the attacker. Notice everything: clothes, hair, any identifying marks such as scars or tattoos, and the height of the person in relation to you.

    _ Remember everything about the setting, if it is an unfamiliar place. Leave your own fingerprints everywhere. Hide some small personal item such as a button or earring -- anything that can later be traced to you.

    _ Do not bathe, douche, or change clothing prior to seeking emergency medical care or calling the police. It is important to preserve physical evidence.

    _ Call University Police or the Chicago Police Department as soon as possible. A student may also contact the Dean-on-Call. If the student requests, the Dean-on-Call will assist the student in notifying University Police and the Chicago Police Department.

    _ Obtain a medical examination as soon as possible. At the University of Chicago Mitchell Hospital Emergency Room, a Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate is available for support and follow-up resources. Acute, immediate post-assault treatment is provided in the Mitchell Emergency Room. The University Health Service's Womancare offers follow-up care, including health-care services for women who have chosen not to seek care immediately after an assault.

    _ Seek help. Hiding a sexual assault and not getting prompt help can result in serious, long-term problems for someone who has been attacked. Remember, delayed reporting makes it harder on you and more difficult to find and convict the attacker. You are advised to file a report with the police; this does not oblige you to press charges or pursue legal action. In the event of a criminal prosecution, the SECC's Victim Assistance Program also provides a trained professional to assist victims in understanding and dealing with the procedures of the criminal-justice system. Remember that most rapists are repeat offenders and that the police and the courts cannot stop them without your help.