Immediate action after being raped

Immediate action after being raped

Immediate action after being raped

Being raped is perhaps the most traumatic event that can take place in a woman’s life. If you have been raped, there are several things you should consider doing, on a practical as well as emotional level.

No man has the right to have sex with a woman without her consent. The man might blame the woman, saying that she led him on or dressed provocatively, but that is no excuse. Rape is a very traumatic and hurtful experience. To deal with it in the best possible way, you should follow these immediate steps:

  • Find a safe environment – anywhere away from your attacker.
  • Contact a friend or family member you can trust, who can be with you indefinitely and immediately. Having someone with you for emotional support can be a real lifesaver.
  • As much as you may want to take a shower or bath, do not do so until after you have made a report and appropriate forensic evidence has been collected. Showering can remove important evidence like semen, skin and hair, clothing fibres or fingerprints. Wait until after your examination before taking a shower or bathing.
  • Write down or discuss with your friend every detail that you can remember about the attack and the attacker. This may help you to describe the rapist to the police later on.
  • Next, you should call the police or go to the police station to report a rape. When and if you do, you should state as soon as possible that you wish to prosecute, even if you haven’t made a final decision to do so. Without the report and evidence, pressing charges later is very difficult.
  • Even if you have no physical injuries, you need medical attention to determine the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. The main medical objective after a rape is to provide emergency care for shock and any injuries, as well as a thorough clinical examination during which appropriate forensic evidence should be collected. The police will get the district surgeon to examine you or you can visit your own doctor or a hospital, where you must ask for the special examination for rape victims.
  • If you think you may have been drugged, ask the doctor or nurse to take a urine sample so that it can be analysed later by a forensic expert.
  • You should also receive medications to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and to treat any sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
  • If you choose not to report the rape, you can obtain emergency contraception (EC) over-the-counter at your pharmacy if you are over 18 and, if you are a minor, you can get a prescription for it from any doctor, clinic or emergency room.

The decision to lay charges against the rapist is not an easy one but if you do it might protect other women and children.

Recovering from the trauma of having been raped can be a long process. It’s important that you see a psychologist or counsellor as soon as possible. Call your EWP confidentially for more advice and for referral to a counsellor if necessary.


What to do if you are raped. Retrieved from
What to do if you have been raped or sexually assaulted. Retrieved from

(Revised by M van Deventer)