Physical Assault

You have been examined today because of a physical assault> The assault may have included being hit, choked (strangled), smothered, kicked, or sexually assaulted. 

After a trauma like an assault, it's normal to feel many strong emotions. These may include shock, embarrassment, fear, and sadness. They may also include blame, guilt, shame, and anger. For a while, you may not be able to think clearly. It can take time to get back to the point where you feel safe again. Crisis support and counseling can help.

Many states need your healthcare provider to call local police after treating a victim of a violent crime. This doesn't mean that you have to press charges or go to trial. Talk with your healthcare provider about your options.

You may be able to get a refund of medical costs or losses related to the assault. Ask your local police or victim's advocate for details.

Home care

These tips may help at home:

  • Being upset, stressed, or shocked may prevent you from noticing any pain or injury you have. If you have any new symptoms, call your healthcare provider.

  • Follow your healthcare provider's advice about the care of any injuries you have. To help ease swelling and pain for the first day or two, put an ice pack on the injured, bruised area for up to 20 minutes. Do this as often as directed. You can make an ice pack by filling a plastic bag that seals at the top with ice cubes. Wrap the bag with a clean, thin towel. Never put an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Don’t isolate yourself. Consider having someone you feel safe with stay with you for a few days. Talk to friends or family about how you are feeling. For the next few days, you might stay with family or a friend for support and to help you feel safe.

  • If family and friends intentionally or unintentionally cause you more stress, ask the victim's advocate for the name of a crisis counselor. Short-term emotional support can be very helpful.  

If the person who hurt you is your partner or spouse and your situation can become dangerous again, it's vital to make a safety plan. Have it made ahead of time. When you are in the middle of a violent encounter, it's very hard to think clearly. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (see Resources below) can help you develop a plan that meets your personal situation. A safety plan may include:

  • A special sign to alert neighbors or your children to call 911

  • A list of family, friends, or shelters where you can go any time of the day

  • A plan of what rooms to avoid if violence escalates (places with weapons or hard surfaces)

  • An emergency escape kit kept in a safe place outside your home. This kit might contain: 

    • Identification (Social Security numbers, birth certificates, photo identification, passports, and visa)

    • Important documents (marriage license, divorce papers, custody papers, and health insurance)

    • Duplicate keys (car, home, and safety deposit box)

    • Telephone numbers and addresses

    • Cash

    • A 1-month supply of medicines

Follow-up care

Follow up with your counselor or healthcare provider, or as advised.


Seek out local resources or refer to the links below for more information:

  • National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC). Offers victim services, referrals, articles on victim’s issues, and other resources.

  • National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). Has articles on victim’s issues, provides victim assistance, and coordinates the National Crime Victim Information and Referral Hotline.  800-879-6682

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline. Offers 24/7 support and local shelter referrals in over 170 languages.  800-799-7233 (TTY 800-787-3224)

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if your symptoms get worse or you have any new symptoms. These include:

  • Thoughts of harming yourself

  • Headache

  • Neck, back, belly, arm, or leg pain

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Increasing problems with swallowing or talking, or changes in your voice

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Dizziness

  • Increasing pain, redness, swelling, or oozing of a wound

  • Vaginal or rectal discharge or unexpected bleeding

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Panic attacks

  • Uncontrollable anxiety

If you are less than 37 weeks' pregnant, call your healthcare provider if any of these happen:

  • You’re having contractions.

  • You have vaginal bleeding or your water breaks.

  • You feel a decrease in your baby’s movement or any other unusual changes.

Call 911

Once home, call 911 or get medical care right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing or increasing chest pain

  • Fainting or passing out

  • Seizures

  • Sudden new problems with speech, walking, coordination, facial droop, or weakness or numbness on one side of your body

  • Very hard time staying awake (excessive sleepiness)

  • Confusion, behavior or speech changes, or memory loss

  • Blurred or double vision

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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