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What steps you need to take after being raped

By Faeza
06 April 2017

FOR more than seven years, Dr Sindi Van Zyl has been treating HIV positive mothers,

children, teenagers, and the elderly. In all the difficulties she has encountered along

the way in her career, she says, “The most difficult was when a young lady was raped by a family friend. All she wanted to do was die. She felt that she would be jeopardising her whole family life and school life."


"I know that if the perpetrator is someone that you know and trust, it makes it that much harder to even consider telling anyone," says Dr Van Zyl. She adds, "Reporting the incident to the authorities such as the police is your decision to take. But whatever you decide - you must be seen by a medical doctor that has been trained in medical and

legal matters. It's important to get medical attention."


It’s not easy to face the stigma and accusations that come with being raped. It’s hell being blamed that you are the reason your family is falling apart. It is crucial to take immediate

action to make sure that there is evidence of the act, time to get tested for HIV and go on

post exposure treatment, and emergency contraception, which must be taken within 72 hours for it to prevent pregnancy. It's important to immediately follow these steps

after you’ve been raped, advises Lerato Mogoatlhe


Dr Van Zyl says, “You need to go to your nearest hospital or clinic as soon as possible for an examination so a doctor collects as much fresh evidence from your body as they can. You will also be tested for HIV. If you are negative, you will be given post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which consists of ARVs, emergency contraception, and antibiotics to prevent other sexually transmitted infections. The medical doctor always conducts the examination with a nurse present. Everything that is documented is kept confidential.

Even if you do not open a case against the perpetrator it is important for the collection

of evidence to happen for the national DNA database used to profile criminals. We need to

collect the evidence, and get you the appropriate medical and psychological attention."


According to Sarah McLaughlin of Rape Crisis, “There is no time limit on reporting rape or laying a charge. However, the sooner this is done, the easier it is to get the evidence needed for court case. It’s preferable to go to a police station nearest to where the rape took place, but no survivor may be turned away simply because the rape took place a long time ago or in the station area of another police station. A statement should be taken first and translated into your own language. If you do not wish to lay a charge, you can report

the rape and request no further investigation.However, from the viewpoint of the law, the sooner you get to the police and hospital the better, as there will be physical evidence on your body that links the rapist to the crime, and this evidence can get lost quickly.” She adds that you have the right to be heard even if you were drunk when you were raped.