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What should you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

Seek medical attention

If you have been hurt or injured, seek medical treatment. If you decide to report the assault, you should have a forensic medical examination at a hospital emergency room as soon as possible so that the evidence can be collected and preserved. In Halifax, this examination can be conducted by a specially trained nurse at the hospital through the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (SANE)

For best results, you should not change your clothing, use a toilet, bathe, shower, eat or clean your teeth prior to the examination. Even if you have not been injured physically, or you do not want to report the assault, it is important to be tested for pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Visit the hospital or, if the assault was not recent, your family doctor, the Halifax Sexual Health Centre, or Student Health Services for appropriate care. Student Health Services can see students quickly and on an urgent basis, and can provide immediate and continuing medical services (other than forensic exams) in a safe and confidential environment.  

Do I have to report it?

Sexual assault is a serious criminal offense and individuals who experience an assault are strongly encouraged to report the matter to the police. Normally, the police will take your statement, collect evidence and investigate the matter to determine whether charges may be laid. If the matter does proceed to court, your participation as a witness will likely be required.

Dalhousie Security Services or Human Rights & Equity Services can assist you in contacting the police to report an incident. In the Halifax area, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre offers various services, including providing a supportive presence at the hospital or police station following an assault, and a court accompaniment program for women using the criminal process. 

It is your right to decide if you want criminal charges filed against the individual who sexually assaulted you. Don't let anyone pressure you either way. You may be unsure if you want to contact the police. You can still have the Rape Kit Examination and the evidence kept before you have to make this decision. However, if you don't go, that evidence will be lost. Without physical evidence, problems can arise if you decide to press charges later on.

To give adult survivors of sexual assault better support, the province of Nova Scotia created the Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors program.

The program respects survivors’ privacy and their right to make their own decisions. Registering is done through an independent agency, 211 Nova Scotia, and participants do not have to report to police or take legal action if they use this service.