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What to do if you or somebody you know has been raped

What to do if you or somebody you know has been raped

What should I do when I have been raped/someone I know has been raped?

  • Get to a safe place as soon as possible
  • Call somebody you trust who can be there for you
  • Tell this person- this is difficult but it is important, as this person can also support you through the legal process
  • Do not wash yourself - there may be hair, blood or semen on your body and clothes that is important evidence of the rape
  • If you are injured, go straight to a nearby clinic, hospital or doctor
  • Decide whether you are going to report the rape.

If you need immediate help and support call any of the following numbers:

Rape Crisis: 021 4479762

Gender Based Violence Command Centre: 0800428428

For detailed information refer to rapecrisis.org.za

If there is a Thuthuzela Care Centre, close by - go to it - A Thuthuzela Care Centre is a centre at a hospital for rape survivors where you can get medical help, counselling and report the rape.

If you have been raped - what are your rights?

  • You have the right to get medical help immediately
  • You have the right to get medication to prevent HIV infection - post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
  • You have the right to get medication to prevent potential sexually transmitted infections
  • You have the right to get medication to prevent pregnancy
  • You have the right to make a decision about whether to report the rape
  • You have the right to make your statement in a private room
  • You have the right to make your statement to a female officer, if there is one
  • You have the right to make your statement in your own language
  • You have the right to have a friend/ family member with you for support
  • You have the right to receive accurate information
  • You have the right to be treated with fairness, respect and human dignity

Something here - click here if you want to report the rape

How do I report rape?

  • Go to the police station, nearest to where the rape took place, as soon as you can
  • Ask somebody you trust to go with you for support
  • If you don't want to go, you can ask the police to send a patrol car to your house or the crime scene - this may take some time
  • If there is a Thuthuzela Care Centre close by, go there, as they will contact the police to come there to take the statement
  • At some police stations, there are specially-trained detectives from the Family Violence, Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Unit (FCSU)
  • They should take you to a Victim Support Room or Victim Friendly Room, which is a safe, private and comfortable space in or near the police station
  • A skeleton statement should be taken and translated into your own language:
    • What happened?
    • Where?
    • Who was involved?
    • When
    • A skeleton statement should be taken down as soon as possible after the rape. 
    • The statement taking is difficult because of the type of questions you will be asked and the kind of detail you have to provide
  • Keep the telephone number of the police station, the name of the officer and the case number written down - it is important information for you to keep
  • After you have  given a skeleton statement, had a forensic examination and received medical treatment you should be able to go home and a time can be agreed for you to make a full statement. 
  • Do not sign your  full statement unless you agree with everything in it
  • If you remember something after you have made the statement, because often the shock could make you forget some detail, you can contact the officer to add it
  • You can report the rape and request no further investigation - in other words not lay a charge. Whether you lay a charge or not, you should have medical treatment. 
  • If you are afraid that the rapist will intimidate you or harm you because you have reported it, tell the police so that they are aware of it.

Getting medical support is key

  • It is important to take care of your body and the potentially long-term harmful effects the rape could have
  • Make sure that within 72 hours (3 days) you take:
    • The Morning After Pill (MAP) to prevent pregnancy
    • An HIV test and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV infection. It will not be given if you are already HIV positive.
    • Antibiotics to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • If you lay a charge,  forensic (medical) evidence is very important and can be lost if you don't have the forensic medical examination soon after the rape
  • A doctor will examine every part of your body to find and collect samples of hair, blood or semen. This is part of the police investigation to gather medical evidence (forensic evidence) of the crime. This can be experienced as invasive, but just remember it for the purposes of collecting the evidence
  • You may also have injuries externally or internally that require medical attention
  • Get counselling and support to deal with the immediate trauma you have experienced. There should be a counsellor available at a TCC centre to provide this. Alternatively you should be able to get support at the clinic or be referred to a counsellor.
  • Ask the counsellor, nurse or doctor if you can come back or refer you to a place where you can get continuing support.

You will be asked permission to do a HIV test so that you can receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) i.e. taking antiretroviral (ARV) medication for 28 days after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected.

ARVS are most effective in preventing HIV when taken 6 -8 hours after the rape
The maximum time for ARVs to be administered is 72 hours (3 days)
You will be asked to come back to the clinic/hospital to get your ARVS - it is very important that you do this.
It is very important to take the ARVS for the full 28 days, for it to work effectively. It may have side effects, like headaches, nausea, drowsiness and confusion and you can get tablets and support to help with that.