Sex and sexual activity is rape if it happens without consent. Rape is forced on the victim. It is a crime and an act of violation, and is unfortunately very common in many countries. To be a victim of rape is a traumatic experience and it can affect you mentally and physically.
Rape victims need care and support. Everyone is different and their responses to rape will also be different. How a victim recovers from rape is a personal choice, but this article will give some tips.
IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT
Rape victims can feel many different things, from shock to anger to guilt. All of this is normal, but if you are raped, the most important thing to remember is that it is never your fault. Sometimes victims of rape face further pain when friends, family or other members of their community blame them for the rape. This is wrong. The only person to blame is the person who committed the crime: the rapist.
It doesn’t matter if you were wearing revealing clothing, had been drinking alcohol, if you have had sex with the rapist before, if you didn’t scream or say ‘no’ during the rape, or if it happened with someone you are married to. It is still rape and it is still not your fault. Because of this, it is important not to dwell on what you could have done to stop it from happening.
If you have been raped, you should seek medical treatment with a doctor at a hospital emergency department or a women’s centre. Often, you will feel scared or uncomfortable about doing this, but it is important to try anyway. The sooner the better, without changing your clothes or washing to make sure you get the right medical treatment. If it is only later that you decide to seek help, this is also okay. A doctor will be able to heal any injuries caused by the rape, check for any sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and give you medication to reduce the risk of HIV Aids.
You may also like to talk with your doctor about reporting the crime to the police. Your doctor will be able to give a medical report with evidence to the police. Some people choose not to report rape, but others find it helpful. It is your decision. You may also want to talk to someone you trust to help you decide what to do.
THE HEALING PROCESS
Surround yourself with people you trust and who support you and understand that the rape was not your fault and was not okay. You may have counselling services in your area, at a hospital or women’s centre. If you do, use them. Talking with people who understand will help.
Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. When you are overwhelmed, try to cope with your feelings in healthy ways, like talking, writing or drawing. Do this rather than turning to unhealthy ways like drugs or alcohol, which only masks the pain. In time, facing your feelings rather than running from them will make them easier to deal with and allow you to heal.