We hope that these words never come from your mouth, and there’s a very good chance that they won’t. But with South Africa’s high sexual assault statistics, it is better for you to have all the information you need – even if it’s just to help someone else.
Fear and shock make it very difficult to think clearly, but for anyone who has been the victim of rape/sexual assault, there are some steps that are vital to get through this terrible event:
- Get yourself to safety! If you are any danger, get yourself to a safe place immediately.
- Don’t wash evidence away. This is absolutely critical! We know that there’s nothing you want to do more than just wash this all away, but your clothes and body may have important evidence to get justice. Wait until you’ve seen the doctor or clinic before you bath or shower: They will need to do an examination to help catch the rapist.
- Tell someone! When you are safe, contact someone you know. Tell them and the first people you see, exactly what has happened. While this may be difficult, in court these people are called ‘first contact witnesses’. If you decide to report the crime, they can help with the police investigation and the court case.
- Get to a doctor or clinic! This is very, very important. Whether you choose to report the attack or not, this step is about your health, first. After examining you, the doctor will give you medicine to prevent unwanted pregnancies, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You will also be given an HIV test.
- Choose whether you want to report the rape. If you choose to report the attack, go to your nearest police station, but have people you can trust, go with you – it’s already a traumatic situation, so having friends or family to support you will help. The police will take your statement and then move you to a health centre for medical attention and a forensic examination. If you do not report the rape, you can go directly to your doctor or a health centre.
- Recovery support services. Get all the support you need afterwards by doing the following:
- Ask for information pamphlets on rape.
- Contact local counselling services, such as Rape Crisis at www.rapecrisis.org.za
- If you do contract an STI or fall pregnant, be sure to get counselling and follow-up medical care.