Sexual Harassment in Hospitals

You should never be sexually harrassed anywhere, but especially not at a hospital. Sexual assault is never okay, and hospitals are supposed to be safe spaces. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is an issue that many patients face when they are trying to heal from their illness or injury. If you have been assaulted in the hospital, there are four things you should do right away:

REPORT IT TO AUTHORITIES
Reporting the assault to authorities is the most important thing you can do after being assaulted. Sexual harassment in hospitals happens more often than many people know. When you report the perpetrator, their behavior will be documented and they may be stopped before assaulting someone else. You should contact your local police department or sexual assault hotline to make a report of the incident. This is usually done face-to-face, but if that would be difficult for you because of safety reasons, it can also be done anonymously online or over the phone.

GET MEDICAL ATTENTION
After reporting to authorities, get medical attention at a hospital emergency room. Make sure you are examined by a doctor so there is evidence that an assault occurred. You may also receive treatment for any injuries you sustained in the assault. Furthermore, you can seek counseling from a hospital psychologist to deal with what you have been through. If you do not want to go to the emergency room for an exam, you can also get free or low-cost medical attention from your local sexual assault center.

CONTACT LOVED ONES
It is important to remember that if you were sexually assaulted, you are not alone and this was not your fault. The experience can be very distressing and it is important that you have people in your life who offer their support during this time. If possible, tell a friend or family member about the sexual harassment so they know what happened and can provide emotional support while you heal. If you need more help, mental health hotline services like RAINN (1-800-656-4673) are available to talk with for free 24 hours a day. You can also search online for local rape crisis centers to get in touch with trained counselors who can offer you support.

FILE A LAWSUIT
After reporting your sexual assault and getting medical attention, the next step is filing a lawsuit against the perpetrator. If you were sexually harassed at work or school, you may be able to file for damages under Title IX. You must first file an administrative claim through your college or employer within 180 days of the incident before filing a federal civil rights complaint. If this deadline has passed, it might still be possible to sue the assailant in state court if other legal deadlines have not run out yet.

Bottom-line
If you have been sexually assaulted at a hospital, the best thing you can do is report it to authorities, get medical attention, and contact loved ones for support. You can also file a lawsuit against the perpetrator of assault so they will be held accountable for their actions and prevented from assaulting someone else. These steps are important because your health and safety should never be violated. The more people who know about sexual harassment in hospitals, the less likely these situations will occur again.

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