By Nico Strydom
Rape victims are usually too shocked or afraid to act in the moments immediately after the event.
However, there are a few steps you can take immediately to ensure your own safety and to help apprehending and prosecuting the rapist as quickly as possible.
Make sure you are safe
If you have been raped, you should try to get to a safe place as quickly as possible.
Immediately tell somebody what has happened
Contact somebody as soon as you have reached a safe place. You can contact a family member or friend or go to the nearest police station or hospital.
Try to keep evidence
Proof of the rape is very important to ensure that your rapist is caught and prosecuted. You should therefore try not to wash yourself after the rape or put on other clothes. Do not disturb the rape scene and try not to eat or drink anything.
Go to a police station or hospital
If you have been raped, you must report the matter to the police as soon as possible and get medical treatment immediately. If you go to a police station first, they will help you to report the rape case and to collect evidence. They will then take you for medical care. If you were seriously injured during the event, go directly to a hospital.
At the hospital
A doctor will examine every part of your body and try to collect evidence, such as semen, hair or blood. All these are DNA proof that could help to catch and prosecute your rapist.
The rapist could also have exposed you to HIV. You will be given medicine to lessen your chances of being infected with HIV. You should preferably start using the medicine within 72 hours of the rape. You could also have been exposed to sexually transmissible diseases and you can also get medicine for that. There is also a chance that you could become pregnant as a result of the rape. Medicine to try and prevent this is also available.
At the police station
The police will ask you for a statement about what happened. It is important to give as much detail as possible of what happened. Explain what happened before, during and after the rape. Also try to give as much details as possible of the rapist. Give the police the names and contact details of anybody who could be a witness.
You can help the police by giving them evidence, such as the clothes you were wearing when you were raped. You can also give them other items, such as bedding or a weapon that was possibly used. They will also visit the scene of the rape. The police will keep you informed of the progress of the investigation.
Follow-up health care
You must get follow-up health care in the days, weeks and months after the rape. It is important to be tested at the right times for HIV and other diseases as well as pregnancy. Go and see a counsellor as well to try and process the rape.
Legal Assistance Centre: http://www.lac.org.na/projects/grap/Pdf/rapepamphlet-WhattoDoAFRI.pdf