What you should do if you’re a victim of rape

Prepared by: Erona Kaciu, Beat Sexism UK

Rape is any form of sexual activity that you don’t agree to, ranging from touching to penetration. Rape is a crime even if you already know the person who attacked you – if the person is a spouse, another family member, or a friend or someone you work with. It’s a crime even if you didn’t fight back. It’s a crime even if you were drinking, taking drugs, given drugs or unconscious. Anyone can be raped – men and women, children and elderly people. 

Being the victim of rape is the most horrific thing a person may go through. Whether male or female rape is reported so infrequently even though it happens so often and the rapist roams free with the criminal acts they had performed.

The first thing that a victim should do after they are raped is seeking medical attention. This does not need to happen immediately after, it may take a lot to process what has happened; a victim can access emergency contraception up to 72 hours after they are raped. In addition to this, you can seek medical attention to make sure that no diseases such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis have been transmitted to you. The price of the medical attention varies depending on where you live. If you live in the U.K. then medical expenses are all covered by the NHS. In America, all medical attention for rape victims are free as what happened to you is not your fault! You may also ask the doctors to gather evidence (the rapist’s DNA) so that you can prosecute in the future if you wish to do so. While in hospital if you do not feel comfortable speaking to the police, you are not forced as you can speak to them when you are ready.

If you wish to report the rape to the police then do not wash any underwear or clothes you were wearing at the time of the rape. All of these factors will be forensically examined which will help you seek the justice that you deserve. However, if you have already washed the clothes, it does not matter as you have medical evidence. With your report, it may encourage other victims of rape to speak out and also make the crime of rape being taken more seriously in the criminal justice system as only 20% of rape incidents are reported to the police. The fact is, rape is something that happens way too often with 1 in 20 women being raped but it is not reported therefore doesn’t empower other victims to speak about what happened.

If you wish to prosecute seek legal advice so that lawyers help you receive justice for the wrongdoings that were committed against you. The following bullet points will include some places where you can get legal advice if you are raped depending on which country you live in:

  • Albania and Kosovo: Beat Sexism offers legal advice for women and girls living in Albania and Kosovo.
  • England and Wales: legal advice may be provided through legal aid as well as organisations such as Rape Crisis England and Wales.
  • South Africa: Commercial and civil litigation practice Vlok Attorneys offer legal help to rape victims
  • USA: Independent Sexual Violence Advocates and lawyers at Andreozzi & Associates represent rape and sexual assault survivors.
  • India: One Stop Crisis Centre or the Nirbhaya Centres
  • Also present in 217 countries is Helplinelaw which helps provide lawyers for women.

Remember, sexual assault is a terrible crime. But it’s not your fault, and you didn’t cause it to happen. Rape is against the law. You have the right to report this crime to the police, and you have the right to be treated fairly during the justice process.

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