What to do if You Have Been Raped
Remember you are not alone.
WOAR’s free counseling services are available to everyone – adults and children – who have been assaulted yesterday or years ago.
If you have recently been sexually assaulted…
ADULTS Ages 18+
Your immediate safety is the first priority: call 911 if you are not safe.
When you are safe, seek medical attention right away. This is the first step of recovery. Call 911 and describe the assault or rape. Do not shower or bathe: this will interfere with the collection of important forensic evidence. For the same reason, do not wash any clothing – including underwear – that was worn during the assault or rape. It is ok to put the clothing in a paper bag (not a plastic bag). When the 911 operator receives your call, if you are uninjured, a police officer will transport you to the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative (300 E. Hunting Park Ave., Philadelphia; 215-425-1625); this is where PSARC (Philadelphia Sexual Assault Resource Center) and the police department’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) are located. If you previously put your clothing in a paper bag, be sure to bring it.
As an alternative to calling 911, you may also call SVU (24/7: 215-685-3251) and go there without a police officer providing the transportation. Reports are not taken over the phone. SVU and PSARC operate 24/7; they help victim/survivors day and night.
If you are seriously injured, go to a hospital and explain what happened. The hospital will call 911 to ensure that the above occurs when your health status is stable.
At SVU, you will be asked to describe what happened to a detective. We strongly encourage survivors to do this: it is often another step of recovery. A specially trained PSARC nurse will conduct a sexual assault exam that assesses your health and any injuries. Collection of forensic evidence also occurs. First aid and medication may be given, and the nurse will explain important information about STD’s, birth control, and medical aftercare. In many situations, a WOAR advocate may provide in-person support at PSARC. If this cannot be arranged, a WOAR advocate will follow up with you by phone.
Children (up to age 18)
As above, safety is the first priority. If the child is in need of urgent or acute medical care, call 911 or go directly to:
- St. Christopher’s Hospital – 3601 East Erie Ave, Philadelphia (888-247-4754); or
- Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) – 324 S. 34th St., Philadelphia (800-879-2467)
At the hospital, describe what happened. The hospital will alert 911.
If you initially call 911 and the child is not seriously injured, as with adult cases, a police officer will offer to transport the child and caregiver adult to the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative (300 E. Hunting Park Ave., Philadelphia; 215-425-1625). This is where several agencies are located:
- the police department’s Special Victims Unit (SVU: 215-685-3251);
- PSARC (Philadelphia Sexual Assault Resource Center);
- Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS); and
- Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA).
As an alternative, you may also call SVU directly (24/7: 215-685-3251) and go there, day or night, without a police officer providing transportation. No reports are taken over the phone.
With all cases of child sexual abuse, whether the first contact is through a children’s hospital, 911, or calling SVU, the child and family are linked to DHS and PCA. Within hours (or a few days at the most), a child forensic interview occurs at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative (described above). Planning is underway for children to receive forensic medical exams at this site, as well.