It’s a sad fact of our society that many people are still subjected to unwelcome sexual attention that may extend as far as rape; and it’s not just women – men can be victims of rape too. The statistics for sexual offences in South Africa are particularly high, and many also go unreported. With that in mind, it’s important to know how to handle it if you or someone you know is ever raped.
What to do
- Get to a place you feel safe and do your utmost to immediately tell someone you trust what happened. This person can give you the support you need at the time, and could also stand as a witness for you if the case goes to court.
- Even though your first instinct may be to wash, don’t do it – blood, hair and semen can be used as evidence to convict your rapist.
- If you’re injured, go to your nearest hospital or clinic. As embarrassed as you may be, tell them you’ve been raped as they will then retain any evidence.
- As soon as you can, go to the police station nearest to where the incident happened and report it. Take someone with you for support. Then keep your case number and the name of the officer in charge of your case in a safe place.
- If a doctor hasn’t already examined you, the police will ask you to do that as part of gathering evidence for your case.
- It’s so important to ask the police who you can speak to for further information and counselling, or phone the Rape Crisis 24-hour counselling line on 021 447 9762.
If you don’t feel safe
If you’re afraid of retribution from your attacker, say so when you report it. Then if you have a friend or family member you can stay with for a while, do that.
Even if you don’t feel able to report it:
- Get counselling to help you work through the physical and emotional trauma of the experience.
- Be sure to get these treatments within the next 72 hours:
- The morning-after pill to ensure you don’t end up with an unwanted pregnancy
- An HIV test and anti-retroviral treatment
- Antibiotics in case of other sexually transmitted infection
Most importantly, rape is never the fault of the victim. As a survivor, you’re entitled to be treated with fairness and respect, and for your case to be heard.