What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual activity. It also includes sexual activity in situations where one or more parties cannot give consent, such as intoxication, health conditions, or the age of consent, which is 16 years old in New Hampshire.
Effects of Sexual Assault
Survivors of sexual assault often go through many different emotions. Everyone responds to trauma in their own way. It is important for you to understand that survivors’ feelings may change over time. Some survivors show little emotion, or even joke around about what has happened. This does not mean that they are not hurting. It simply means that they are coping.
- Jumpiness, feeling on edge
- Feelings of guilt and self-blame
- Feelings of mistrust
- Exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Not wanting to be touched
- Substance abuse
- Sexual dysfunction or hyperarousal
- Health issues appearing or worsening
- Distrust of police and/or legal system
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
What To Do After Sexual Assault
It can be incredibly difficult to focus and think about what to do following sexual assault.
Think of these three steps:
- Get to a safe place.
- Call for help – the police, a crisis center like Turning Points Network, friends or family, etc.
- Seek medical attention if needed.
Try not to change your clothes, bathe, douche, or wash away any evidence. Go to the nearest hospital emergency room to be examined, have injuries treated and have medical and legal evidence collected. Bring a change of clothes with you. Any clothes worn at the time of the assault may be collected as evidence.
A Forensic Sexual Assault Medical Exam is available at any New Hampshire emergency room. If you are afraid to go to the hospital alone, an advocate from your local crisis center can meet you there, or the hospital will contact a crisis center to have an advocate meet you at the hospital, if you haven’t already done so.
If you suspect you were assaulted with the aid of drugs which can render you unconscious and leave you with no memory of the attack or the perpetrator, be sure to tell the emergency room staff. They can test your blood and urine for traces of these drugs, which can be slipped into a drink and are generally tasteless, odorless and colorless. Symptoms of these drugs include feeling more intoxicated than you normally do when drinking the same amount of alcohol, waking up with memory lapses and feeling as though someone had sexual contact with you, but not being able to remember any or all of the incident.
To learn more about the hospital exams and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), visit the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
If, for any reason, you choose not to contact police or go to an emergency room, Turning Points Network is still here to help and support you. Confidential support and information are available 24 hours a day. Advocates are available to talk to anyone who has been affected by sexual violence and abuse.
If you are a minor (under the age of 18), the hospital is mandated to report your assault. The police will want to speak with you. If you have questions about this, you can always call TPN anonymously.