Do you know what to do if you or someone close to you becomes the victim of a sexual assault? A national survey released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that sexual assaults are far more common than previously believed, with nearly one woman in five reporting that she had been the victim of rape or attempted rape.
Ideally, anyone who has been forced into a sexual act should be seen within 24 hours at a hospital emergency room where a specially trained team provides medical care and counseling, collects high-quality forensic evidence and supports often terrified victims who may — or may not — choose to pursue legal action.
Unless you already know the best place to go, call a rape crisis hot line, regardless of the nature of the assault and even if the attack occurred days or weeks earlier. There’s a hot line in every community, according to Dr. Judith A. Linden, an emergency physician at Boston University School of Medicine, where she treats victims and trains medical personnel how to be sensitive and thorough in examining people who have been sexually assaulted.[...]