ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Survivors of a sexual assault or domestic violence can be vulnerable after an attack.

Experts said that it is imperative they get medical care, but it is not easy for many of them to seek it out. One of the most difficult steps can be telling one’s story after an attack, according to experts, which is one of the reasons that counselors at Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, 5301 E. State St., want residents to know what to expect when a survivor decides to reach out for help.

They said that, if the assault is recent, go to the hospital.

“So if someone has been recently sexually assaulted or abused, if they call us first, we encourage them to go to the hospital and have a sexual assault exam kit done, and the doctors and nurses there will check over them, make sure to tend to any injuries and also collect evidence if that’s what the survivor wants,” said Erica Engler of Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling.

The hospital would then contact the police on the survivor’s behalf. From there, the survivor would communicate with the police regarding what happened, if they want to. The agency said that if the assault was beyond the statute of limitation for pressing charges against the perpetrator, organizations like Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling will offer counseling free of charge for an unlimited amount of time to assist the survivor.

The counseling is available to any survivor, and they can come and go as they please. If a survivor has to submit clothing for evidence while at the hospital, the hospital would then call organizations like Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling, who would bring clothing to the survivor.

If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.