With the increase rates of rape cases in Nigeria and the world, ladies must know exactly what to do if they fall victim of such heinous crime. Rape causes psychological and emotional trauma and may leave a long lasting effect on its victim. Do not blame yourself after being raped but endeavor to get adequate medical and emotional support. In this article, we will discuss 5 things you must do after rape.
1. Go to somewhere safe
The first thing you must do after rape is to go to a safe place. A place far from the location of the incidence. This can be the house of close and trusted friend, family or partner’s house. Do not panic or feel ashamed about the incidence but talk to somebody that you trust. This provides an immediate psychological and emotional support. In some countries or regions, organizations have been established with the aim of providing immediate emotional support to rape victims. Don’t hesitate to call or visit these centers as they can also guide you on how to access quality health care.
2. Get a medical examination ASAP
Medical examination carried out by trained physician who specializes in forensic/ sexual medicine is usually helpful in establishing a case of rape, assess for extent of damage, and treat for STD, HIV and to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It is generally advised not to bathe, change clothes, douche/ clean the vagina or take any medication after rape. During the medical examination, the doctor will access for visible injuries like bruises, lacerations or abrasions sustained during the act because most rape victims try resisting the assailant which leads to physical injuries. Also, some injuries may not be apparent to the victim and may be life threatening if prompt treatment is not given. However, most rape victims sustain minor injuries that can be easily treated. A comprehensive medical examination includes; identification of injuries and organ(s) damage, a collection of samples such as assailant’s semen, saliva, hair and blood for DNA and identification studies. Urine and blood samples may be taken to test for drugs which may have been used by the assailant to potentiate the act. All findings noted during the medical examination will be documented as it forms part of the evidence needed for any legal action.
3. Test and get treated for STD, HIV, and unwanted pregnancy
Rape increases the likelihood of contacting sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and unwanted pregnancy. After medical evidence has been obtained, you will be tested for STD/ HIV and preventive/ treatment instituted. For unwanted pregnancy, an emergency oral contraceptive is commonly used within the first 72 hours after a case of rape. The earlier the commencement of treatment the more effective it is in preventing an unwanted pregnancy. Postinor-2 is commonly used as an emergency contraceptive. The first tablet is given immediately after the assault and the second tablet given exactly 12 hours after the first dose. If after 72 hours, an emergency intra-uterine device is inserted into the womb to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Both methods of emergency contraception are highly effective. Also, you should get tested for gonorrhea, syphilis chlamydia and other STD for treatment. Some physicians may prescribe prophylactic antibiotics to prevent STD. Nothing gives rape victim great fear and anxiety than the fear of contracting HIV. Thanks to Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) which has been termed to be 99% effective in preventing HIV. Endeavor to get yourself treated for unwanted pregnancy, STD, and HIV prophylaxis after any case of rape
4. Inform the police
Rape is a crime punishable by law and all sex offenders should not go unpunished because nobody knows who their next victim will be. However, it is only you that can make such critical decision to report the case to the police. It is best to make a report to the police immediately after the incidence. This will help the police gather evidence before evidence is lost at the crime scene and it will also necessitate quick/ rapid apprehension of the offender. The police will obtain a verbal and written statement from you about the incidence which will be used as evidence for legal prosecution. If you are embarrassed, shy of not sure about any of the questions asked by the police then it is best to ask for clarification or the reason for such question(s). The police may also provide useful information on how to access medical care, financial aid, psychological support and your safety. Cases of the sexual offender returning to harm the victim has been documented.
5. Get psychological support
Rape causes psychological trauma to its victims that this may linger for years after the incidence. Some rape victims may develop Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome (PTDS) which affects their interaction with others and their quality of life. Psychological support can be provided by trained sexual assault counselors, by family and trusted friends. After a rape, you should talk with a counselor who is going to provide you with expert guidance on how to live after the incidence. If you begin experiencing symptoms and signs of depression, mood changes, or anxiety then it is best to see your physician for proper assessment and treatment.