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Wellness Center

Immediate Support

Sexual Assault  Resources


Help After an assault

“After a sexual assault, it is important to remember that you have choices about how to take care of yourself. There is no ONE right way to ensure your self-care. However, listed below are several options, offering you suggestions on how to meet your physical safety and emotional needs, how to obtain medical attention, and options for pursuing legal action.”

Sexual Assault is never the survivor’s fault. It is important that a survivor of sexual assault understand that no matter where they were, the time of day or night assaulted, what they were wearing, or what they said or did - if they did not want any portion of a sexual experience or sexual contact, then nothing else matters.

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted:

  • Find a place where you feel safe.
  • Contact someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or AU staff member. Be aware some staff members, such as resident assistants (RAs), may be required to report information you disclose.
  • If you may want to pursue a criminal case in the future, it is best to have evidence collected at the DC SANE program at Washington Hospital Center where you can receive free, confidential treatment for any needs related to the assault. They can be reached at (800)641-4028. 
  • To preserve evidence, it is best not to shower, bathe, douche, wash your hands, brush your teeth, comb your hair, or use a toilet (if you can avoid it). 
  • Seek medical attention even if you are not seeking evidence collection. It is important to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and to treat possible internal injury. 
  • Contact AU’s Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator for confidential services that do not result in any official report unless requested at SAPC@american.edu/(202) 885-3055.
  • Talking with a counselor will help you begin to process and understand what happened. A counselor can also help you cope with emotional difficulties that may arise after an assault.

Immediate Support Resources:

Off-campus resources available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

RAINN Online Hotline. Provides 24/7 phone services at 1.800.656.HOPE OR you can chat anonymously online at www.rainn.org. RAINN’s services include: crisis intervention and support, referrals to resources in your area, answers to your questions about recovering from sexual assault, information about medical issues, explanations of the criminal justice system, what to expect if you report the crime to the police, and information for family and friends of victims/survivors. Anyone can contact the phone or online hotline, even if the violence/abuse occurred long ago.

DC Rape Crisis Center (202) 333-7273. Provides a 24/7 crisis hotline. Additionally, the DCRCC can provide an Advocate who can accompany victims/survivors to a hospital, police station, or court, and help guide them through each system. DCRCC also provides counseling services for survivors. All services are provided free of charge.

Medical - DC SANE Program at Washington Hospital 

Contact the DC SANE Call Center at (800)641-4028. The operator can provide students with a free safe ride to the Washington Hospital Center’s DC SANE Program and dispatch an advocate for support. SANE resources can all be used without police involvement, unless requested. Located at Washington Hospital Center:110 Irving Street, NW Washington, DC 20010. The SANE program provides free medical examinations to collect/preserve evidence and the exams are conducted by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). As part of this service, the SANE Program provides free STDs/HIV testing and prophylactic treatment for STDs/HIV and pregnancy. Additional support services are also available. The program is staffed 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week by nurses with specialized training in medical forensic evidence collection. Exams are available to victims/survivors within 96 hours of an incident. Any evidence collected can be held for one year while a survivor decides if they want to file any charges. Under the Violence Against Women’s Act, victims/survivors of sexual assault treated at the SANE center are not required to speak with law enforcement and therefore law enforcement will only be involved if requested.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) or Local Jurisdiction Police Department 9-1-1

MPD Sexual Assault Unit (202) 727-3700

On-campus resources available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:    

 Public Safety Emergency line (202) 885-3636/ Non-emergency line (202)885-2527. Public safety responds to immediate threats to health and safety. Public Safety can also provide walking escorts to all students on campus property, Rape Aggression Defense classes that teach women how to defend themselves against attackers, and can assist a victim/survivor in filing a case with Student Conduct and/or Metropolitan Police.

AU Counseling Center

The Counseling Center is a free, on-campus, confidential resource. After hours, a Counseling Center counselor can be paged for an emergency consultation by contacting AU Public Safety or a member of the Housing and Dining Programs staff. During business hours, visit the Counseling Center (Mary Graydon Center, 214) or call (202)885-3500.

 Common reactions to sexual violence

A person who has experienced sexual assault, relationship violence, or stalking has experienced a traumatic event. We are each equipped to deal with trauma differently. No two people will process any traumatic event in the same way. There is no “normal” reaction to trauma and there is no “wrong” reaction to trauma.

In the immediate aftermath of victimization, the victim may act or feel:

  • Confused
  • Scared
  • Disoriented
  • Angry
  • Numb
  • Hurt
  • As if the event never happened (denial)
  • Avoidant
  • Choosing not to talk to or about anything that happened
  • Betrayed
  • Sad
  • Depressed
  • Anxious or panicked
  • Withdrawn
  • Hysterical
  • Hypersexual