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Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse, the Sexual Assault Center (SAC) provides free counseling, advocate services, and free forensic exams (or rape kit) at their SAFE Clinic for anyone age 16 or over and can connect you with other services. You can also speak to an advocate from the Sexual Assault Center while at the Family Safety Center. If you’d like to speak with someone, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or through their online chat feature.

On this page:

Help Available in Nashville  Information on Forensic Medical Exams  What is Sexual Assault?  Signs That Someone May Have Been Sexually Assaulted

Help Available in Nashville:

Information on Forensic Medical Exams:

If you have been sexually assaulted within the last 120 hours, you may choose to receive a free forensic exam (or rape kit). It is best to receive an exam as quickly after the assault as possible. Before receiving this exam:

  • Do not shower or bathe.
  • Do not eat or drink.
  • Do not brush your teeth.
  • Keep the clothes and/or bedding from the assault, and do not wash them. Bring them with you to the exam.

The steps above will help to best preserve the evidence. However, if you have done any of the above, you may still receive an exam, and evidence could still be collected.

To receive a forensic medical examination, please contact the Sexual Assault Center’s (SAC) SAFE Clinic.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is any sexual contact that happens without the other person’s consent. This can include:

  • Rape or penetration
  • Fondling or unwanted touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts (like oral sex or penetrating the offender’s body)

Consent is about communication and:

  • should always be established every time you engage in sexual activity
  • can be taken back at any time
  • consenting to something once doesn’t mean you always consent

If you don’t feel safe enough to tell the other party to stop, it could be a sign that you may be in an unhealthy or dangerous relationship.

Perpetrators can use physical, emotional, psychological abuse as well as coercion and manipulation to force, threaten or pressure someone into doing something sexually.

Signs That Someone May Have Been Sexually Assaulted

If you or someone you know have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse, you might recognize some of these feelings or behaviors:

  • Signs similar to those of depression, like:
    • sadness that doesn’t go away
    • low energy
    • changes in sleep or appetite
    • losing interest or not wanting to participate in your normal activities
    • feeling “down”
  • Thinking about committing suicide, attempting suicide, or self-harming (such as cutting yourself)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy
  • Anxiety or worry about situations that you didn’t worry about in the past
  • Avoiding specific situations or places
  • Having trouble at school or at work
  • Increasing your use of drugs or alcohol
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, sleeping at unusual times of day, or sleeping for longer or shorter than usual
  • A new and different attitude toward your body that can result in weight gain, weight loss, or developing an eating disorder
  • Dissociation or feeling detached from reality (this could anything from excessive daydreaming to having an “out-of-body” experience)
  • Moments when you feel you are reliving a past trauma right now in the present (these are known as “flashbacks”)
  • Acting or feeling “on edge” all the time (this is known as “hyper-arousal”)
  • Experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), such as feeling anxious, stressed out, or fearful for more than a few weeks, or feeling like those feelings interrupt your day-to-day life
Source: RAINN

If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse, the Sexual Assault Center (SAC) provides free counseling, advocate services, and free forensic exams (or rape kit) at their SAFE Clinic for anyone age 16 or over and can connect you with other services. You can also speak to an advocate from the Sexual Assault Center while at the Family Safety Center. If you’d like to speak with someone, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or through their online chat feature.

If you think that you are in an abusive relationship, look at our safety planning page for ways to increase your safety and our Other Help in Nashville page for community support.