If you're sexually assaulted or raped, it’s easy to feel at that time like your life is over. What took place might have been quite violent or distressing, and you may feel like the person who committed this crime betrayed you.

So-called “stranger rapes” do happen, but more times than not, a victim knows the person who rapes or sexual assaults them. Most frequently, the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse or partner.

No doubt what happened to you was horrific, but you have to move on with your life. It will definitely not be easy, but there are things you can do to hopefully start moving in the right direction.

You Should Report What Happened

The first thing to do is report what happened to the authorities. The best time to do that is while they can still collect physical evidence. That’s why you shouldn’t shower or bathe yourself after a rape or sexual assault.

This way:

  • The cops can run a rape kit
  • The authorities can collect semen, blood, and other material evidence

Reporting what happened to the authorities is difficult, especially if you’re still in a disheveled state. Keep in mind, though, that if you delay, or if you clean yourself up, you won’t have as good of a chance to convict the person who did this to you.

You probably want this individual to go to jail for what they did. Rape or sexual assault are Class 2 felonies, which means that the perp, if a jury convicts them, will get a minimum of 5.25 years in prison.

That is as it should be. Rape and sexual assault are inexcusable offenses, and anyone who commits these vicious crimes should spend time behind bars.

You’ll Need to Figure Out Where to Stay

Let’s say for a moment that it was your spouse or partner who assaulted you. If so, once you go to the police, if they have sufficient evidence to arrest the perpetrator, they will do it.

Once that happens, they might get out on bail before the trial. If so:

  • You will have to figure out somewhere else to stay
  • You’ll have to remove your children from that household if you have any

You might stay with your parents or another relative. If you have friends you trust, you could stay with them.

The point is that you need to keep away from the individual who did this until they’re behind bars. The law should grant you a restraining order.

However, if you’re still afraid of them, you should emphasize to the police that you fear this other person’s temper. The cops can check up on you regularly to make sure this person is staying away.

Moving On

Once the trial is over, ideally, this person is going away for several years. If they were your spouse, you might file for divorce at this point. If they were not your spouse, you have no further legal obligation to them.

At this juncture, you can attempt to resume your life, but it will not be easy. Many rape and sexual assault victims have PTSD after the incident. Many more struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and feelings that they are worthless or unlovable.

Healing will take time. You might need extensive therapy after what happened. It might be years before you feel completely confident and happy again.

Your Next Relationship

It might be quite a while before you get into a new relationship, and when you do, you may find trusting the new person hard. At some point, you will need to tell them what happened to you.

You don’t need to go into all the details if you don’t want to. You should give them the broad strokes, though, because this has undoubtedly impacted your psyche, and it has become a part of who you are.

When you’re intimate with the new person, you might be okay with it, or you might shrink away at some point when there’s physical contact. Again, this is not unusual. This is why you need to tell them a little bit about what happened. If they are someone you want to be with, they should understand and sympathize.

If you’ve found a new person who would never harm you, then eventually, perhaps you can learn to trust and love them. You will always carry what happened with you, but as time passes, many survivors will no longer place the emphasis on it that they once did.

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