Many rape survivors are too shocked to act immediately after a rape. But there are practical steps you can take to keep yourself safe, minimise health risks and help your chances of bringing the rapist to justice.
1. Try to get to a safe place if you are in any immediate danger
2. Tell someone what has happened
Tell the first person you see what has happened or contact someone you know and trust and tell them the whole story. This is very important because this person can help the police investigation and later support your story in court.
3. Keep evidence of the rape
All you may want to do is wash but if you do, you can wash away all any blood, semen, saliva or hair that could be used as evidence of the rape.
4. Decide whether you want to report the rape
You do not have to decide immediately whether to report the rape to the police but the sooner a health worker examines you, the more likely they are to find evidence that they can link to the rapist. If you decide to report the rape to the police, go to your nearest police station. The police will take you to a health centre where you will be examined and treated. If you do not report the rape, you can go directly to a health centre.
5. Get medicine to prevent pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted infections
The health centre should give you the morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy and antibiotics to prevent possible STIs. You will also be given an HIV test and if it is negative you will be given antiretroviral treatment for 28 days to prevent HIV. This MUST be taken within 72 hours of the rape, so it is very important that you get medical help as soon as possible. SMS â€˜ENDRAPEâ€™ to 38006 to access counselling and healthcare services.
6. Get support to help you to recover
You can contact a counselling service that can give you support. Try contacting Lifelineâ€™s 24-hour support and counselling line on 0861 322 322 or its gender based violence number 0800 150 150. Rape Crisis also offers a 24-hour helpline on 021 447 9762. You can visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.za.
Reporting for this story is supported by Code for Africaâ€™s impactAFRICA fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.