To those who follow in my footsteps:

It's hard work, but don't give up! Take your time. Ask for help and guidance. Talk to people who have been through sexual abuse. Know that you aren't alone. Be a little more honest each time, especially with your feelings. Keep coming back to support group!

Generated by support group members, who are courageously working on all of these things.

Healing is:

Letting safe people "in." Not allowing the sexual abuse to define and label me. Not craving drugs and alcohol (to numb the pain). Not turning "negative" feelings inward on myself. Learning to be comfortable with my feelings. Learning to express my feelings. Telling the Truth. Overcoming my fear of abandonment.

Generated by support group members, who create a circle of honest, warm, nonjudgmental support.

If you have been sexually assaulted:

It is not your fault that this happened to you. Only the offender is responsible for this.

From a safe place, call a trusted friend or family member to come support you during this process.

Preserve evidence. If at all possible, postpone urination. Do not bathe or brush your teeth. Your clothes are also evidence; take them with you to the hospital. Do not disturb anything in the area where the assault occurred.

Call the Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC) at (414) 219.5555 and go there immediately. They have clinical and medical personnel on staff 24 hours a day who specialize in helping victims of sexual assault. Even if you have showered, bathed, douched or urinated, you can still have evidence collected and/or medical treatment for STDs and pregnancy prevention. Even with no physical injuries, it is important to determine the risks of STDs and pregnancy.

SATC providers:

  • Aurora Sinai Medical Hospital on 12th and State
  • West Allis Memorial Hospital

To preserve forensic evidence, the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) will conduct a rape kit exam. During the exam, you may bring or request a support person to be present. If you suspect you may have been drugged, a urine sample should be collected right away. If you need to urinate before you get to the hospital, collect your urine in a clean jar or container with a lid and bring it with you. Follow up with any medical appointments recommended by the nurse.

If you want to report the crime, law enforcement should be notified as soon as possible. SATC staff can assist you with this. Reporting this crime can help you regain a sense of personal power and control, and can also help to ensure the safety of other potential victims.

Continue to get support. You deserve to heal physically, mentally and emotionally from this trauma.

Remember, it wasn't your fault. Sexual assault is an act of violence where sex is used as a weapon. Victims do not cause their assaults and are not to blame. Offenders are solely responsible for their assaults.