Avoid blaming yourself. Remember that sexual assault is never the victim's fault. You were not assaulted because of personal characteristics or behavior; you were assaulted because somebody made the decision to act violently and take your power over your body and your decisions away from you.
Talk to someone you trust. Being sexually assaulted is not something you have to go through alone. There are people on campus and in the community who are trained to help you cope with the experience and examine all of your options. Community Assistants have had training in responding to sexual assault survivors. If you decide to disclose your assault to your CA, you may be contacted by a staff person within the Division of Student Affairs who is trained to respond to sexual assault and wants to make sure that you have adequate support and understand all of your options. Student Affairs staff, including CAs, are considered by University Police to be Campus Security Authorities (CSAs), and as such are required to report incidences of sexual assault to the University Police. However, identifying information about the survivor does not have to be included in the report, and no police or university action will be taken without the survivorís knowledge.
Counselors in the Women's Center [http://www.northwestern.edu/womencenter/] and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) [http://www.northwestern.edu/counseling/] can talk to you confidentially about your options and can also help you heal from your experience with individual and group counseling. Advocates in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness can discuss your options and what to expect if you decide to go to the hospital, talk to the police, or take legal action against the perpetrator. It can even help to talk to a close friend or roommate about your experience. Recognize that a friend may not know exactly how to respond in this situation and may need some guidance from you in understanding how you would like to be supported.
Give yourself time to heal. Being sexually assaulted is a very traumatic experience. It is perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions from sadness or depression to anger, resentment, confusion, and sometimes indifference. Emotional response is different for each survivor. Do not expect your emotions or other effects of the assault to disappear overnight. Healing from sexual assault is a process similar to healing from other types of trauma. Some people start to heal soon after the assault occurs, other people feel as though they are recovering from sexual assault for decades, and still others feel fine in the immediate aftermath of the assault and do not recognize that they need to recover until years later.