What to do after a sexual assault - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

What to do after a sexual assault

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- A trial continues this week in the sexual abuse case against former Hawkeye player Cedric Everson.  The alleged victim testified in court Tuesday.  Her roommate also testified about helping the victim get medical attention following the attack.  But many victims are clueless when it comes to knowing how to cope with such an ordeal.

Experts say there are some things victims should and should not do following an attack.  It's estimated that one in three women, and one in ten men, will be the victim of rape in their lifetime.  And for victims of sexual violence, possibly the most important thing they can do, is to report it.

The University of Northern Iowa is known as a relatively safe campus.  But instances of sexual violence do occasionally happen at the college.  The college's violence intervention services works to educate students about violence prevention and what to do if they become a victim.

"The first things a person should do if they believe they've been sexually assaulted in any way, is to call an advocate," said Joan Thompson, UNI Victims Service Advocate.

Advocates can help victims handle the resulting emotional and physical health issues of a sexually violent attack.

"The advocate will go through all of the different options.  One would be getting medical care as soon as possible, going to the emergency room, not showering... And if they have a change of clothes, taking them to the emergency room, and then getting support," Thompson said.

On campus, UNI's health services department can help.  And in eastern Iowa, Seeds of Hope also provides a 24-hour crisis phone line.  (1-888-746-HOPE) But no matter when the act of violence may have occurred, UNI encourages victims to report it, so they don't go through it alone.

"Victims need to be supported, not just for that day, that week, that month, but for years to come," said Thompson.

Sexual violence advocates say not showering is important to preserve any physical evidence of a sexual attack.  It's an important thing to keep in mind, because cleaning up is often to first thing victims do as they literally try to wash away any reminder of what's happened to them.

UNI says victims do have a choice of whether to file a university complaint against their attacker, a criminal complaint, or both.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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