At the UW
If you’re not already familiar with policies surrounding sexual assault, relationship violence, and harassment at the UW, you should look into the UW’s policies. Familiarizing yourself with your options is crucial whether or not you have survived sexual assault. Unfortunately, you never know when you will need them, whether for yourself or somebody you know. Also, if you are insured, be sure to familiarize yourself with your medical insurance policy and ask questions about costs associated with medical exams following sexual assault.
To seek immediate medical attention, visit any nearby hospitals. Acquire emergency contraception, figure out if you were given sedatives (be fast for this one, drugs leave the body quickly), or if you have contracted a sexually-transmitted infection (STI). The Hall Health Center and Planned Parenthood don’t have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners—those who make it possible for victims of sexual assault to receive examinations in order to prevent injury and illness as well as preserve evidence about a case—however, the UW Medical Center has rape kits available.
The UW offers something called a “safety plan” that assists those who have experienced sexual assault in implementing changes in everyday life to distance themselves from their perpetrator and begin healing after an assault. Safety planning is an important first step to take following an assault because you can begin to do it even before you seek medical attention, counseling, or police action. Safety planning at the UW also protects and warrants time off for students that are employees at the UW who have experienced an assault.
Counseling can be an effective way to cope after a sexual assault no matter if the event happened days or years ago. Psychotherapy is available at counseling centers at every UW campus, as well as at Hall Health on the Seattle campus. The UW has made it their mission to protect student privacy and confidentiality during these counseling sessions. Although the UW has been far from perfect, resources on campus have improved, and students need to know their options regardless.
Visit the UW’s Title IX office if you’re looking to pursue an investigation or need support in other parts of your life as a student.
While it can be challenging, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible regardless of where the assault happened. Seattle has plenty of resources scattered all over the city, and most emergency rooms will be able to take care of you. Harborview Medical Center also has a Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress Center where both medical attention and counseling is readily available.
The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) is a great place to begin when examining your options for receiving help. The KCSARC provides a 24-hour resource hotline that you can call at 888-998-6423. This number functions as a crisis hotline as well as an information line that can help you receive legal advocacy, therapy, and family services. For help from private individual therapists, you can refer to this psychologytoday.com for a start.
Online resources are also available to anyone who would prefer to seek help through a hotline or website. The online therapy experience can be more comfortable and personal for people who are struggling to seek help or even voice their experiences outloud. If home is your safe space or you’re hesitant to seek professional help for any reason, try starting with online resources, as they can be less intimidating. Some online therapy resources include BetterHelp and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). BetterHelp is upfront and transparent about their prices and can personalize a therapy plan for you based on what you’re experiencing following a traumatic event. RAINN offers a comprehensive list of various online or hotline resources that are applicable to unique experiences, such as violence against women, domestic abuse, and teen dating.
Remember that sex is fun, beautiful, and natural, and that if you are in a situation where sexual advances are taking place without clear consent, it is not sex. If you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault, make sure the proper steps are taken to protect your safety and mental wellness. Don’t hesitate to take action, and don’t deny yourself the help you deserve.
For immediate help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
Reach columnist Amanda Riggio at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AmandaGRiggio