Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Trigger /  Content warning: this article contains mentions of sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape. Please do not read if you find any of the above triggering. Resources are linked below. 

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 778 888

Women’s Aid helpline: 1800 341 900 

To preface this article, if you find yourself in the most unfortunate, unjust situation that you are the victim of a sexual assault, please know that the most important thing you do is what makes you feel most comfortable. You are under no obligation to go to the Gardaí or preserve your clothing or delay a shower. You must absolutely only do what you feel is right for you, regardless of what anyone such as a friend or family member may tell you. Know that there are helplines and resources available to you, there is always someone there for you.

The following advice is aimed at preserving physical evidence which may be used in legal proceedings if you personally wish to press charges. As well as providing information on resources available to you which can help you mentally process the trauma of being subject to a sexual assault or rape. 

First and foremost, it is imperative that you get yourself to a safe place where you feel secure and ideally, are in the company of someone trusted. Be that a friend, family member, the hospital or a Garda Station. It is common to be in a state of shock after a traumatic event such as a sexual assault or rape, and you should not hesitate to call 112 or 999 or a helpline such as Women’s Aid or Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. 

In the interest of evidence, it’s a good idea not to shower until after you have obtained a forensic exam. This is in order to maintain any DNA evidence that might be present on your body and clothes after the assault. 

In addition to not showering, it’s best that you abstain from brushing your teeth or hair and washing your hands. As well as that, you should try not to eat or drink anything. Again, as well-intended as this advice is, you should ultimately only do what makes you feel safe and comfortable. 

Sexual assault and rape are traumatic events that rob a person of their sense of security. This is why it is so important to act in your own best interest, whatever you decide that is for yourself. 

The second thing you should do is contact the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit, to find the phone number of their closest branch to you. If you are aged over 14 years of age, there are six Sexual Assault Treatment Units in Ireland where you can go to obtain a forensic exam. You can choose from one of two forensic exams, one which provides the evidence to the Gardaí if you wish to report the assault at that time. Or one which does not involve the Gardaí and gives you the opportunity to have the SATU store the evidence for up to one year. 

I know the last thing anyone wants is to have their body poked and prodded, especially after such a distressing experience, but forensic exams are excellent evidence in trials if you wish to press charges. According to the SATU, the best time for forensic samples to be taken is within the first 72 hours after the assault occurs, but samples can be taken up to seven days after the incident. If at any moment before or during the forensic exam you want it to stop, that is perfectly okay and you should feel free to take a break or end it. After the exam, you will be offered medication that helps to combat the contraction of STIs and to prevent pregnancy. The SATU will also provide you with access to a shower and a fresh set of clothes. 

The importance of acting within the first seven days or so after an assault is to preserve evidence. Such as CCTV footage, witnesses will be somewhat easier to source and obtain a statement from, as well as preserving any forensic evidence which may be at the scene of the crime. 

Sexual assault or rape is not your fault. You should absolutely never blame yourself or question if your behaviour or appearance for example somehow invited this heinous crime into your life. No one or thing is responsible for a rape except the rapist themselves. If possible for you, try to preserve your clothing and body, reach out to SATU to get a forensic examination and then consider if you want to report it to the Gardaí and take it from there. 

Resources :

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre 

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre provide a 24-hour helpline which can be reached at 1800 778 888. The DRCC provides services such as one-to-one counselling, court accompaniment, accompaniment to Garda stations, online trauma support programme, among others. Their counsellors will also speak to friends and relatives of victims in cases where they would prefer this option. The counselling offered by the DRCC includes crisis counselling and psychotherapy, long-term therapy for victims of past sexual violence, or childhood sexual abuse and group counselling.

Second year law and french student at DCU. Aquarius through and through.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️