What to do if you have been raped
When it comes to rape or sexual assault, it is important to remember that it is never your fault and we are determined to help you through this process.
Ini met Ben at a house party. They connected effortlessly and it felt like they had known each other for long. The party ran late into the night and people only started to leave around 2am. Ini had not driven to the party, and she was about to call herself a cab when Ben suggested she spends the rest of the night at his residence just down the road.
Ini was sceptical, of course, but Ben made good points about how unsafe it might be to go with a total stranger at this time of night; and how he had two bedrooms so she would be comfortable. She believed him because he had acted ‘gentlemanly’ the entire evening and said all the right things. She had also told him she was practising celibacy for a period and he commended her resolve.
The pair arrived at Ben’s house and continued drinking and talking. After a while, things got sexual and they began to kiss. Ini reminded Ben that she would not be taking it further and he assured her that was fine. However, minutes into the kiss, he began to paw at her dress and attempted to remove it. She tried to pull away, but he successfully manhandled, overpowered and raped her.
When a person is raped, the period immediately succeeding it is critical. A victim is often blank, confused and unsure of their next move. Nobody wishes to be a victim of sexual assault, however, if you or anyone you know is one, we hope you have sufficient information on appropriate next steps.
Get to a safe place
This is the very first thing you need to do if you are a victim. Leave the scene of the assault. Get away from your abuser and go to a place where you feel safe. If the victim is a child, take the child away from the reach of the perpetrator.
Once you are in a safe place, get in touch with someone you trust and have them come to meet you or go to them, if you can. For a victim who is a minor, call a parent or guardian (provided they are not the perpetrator).
Go to the hospital
You and your trusted person (friend, family, neighbour, colleague etc.) should go to a hospital and request a rape kit. Also request post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), some antibiotics and tests in case of any exposure to STDs. A consultation with a doctor might be required and treatment for any physical injuries that might have been sustained. Remember not to take a shower or bath before going to the hospital so that evidence is not tampered with.
Make a police report
Once a doctor’s report and/or a rape kit has been secured, go to the nearest police station and file a report. This is necessary to officially document the assault and will become a primary source of evidence should you plan to seek legal redress against your offender in the future.
Contact any agency that might be of help
There are many organizations established to assist against sexual and gender-based violence globally. In Nigeria, a significant number of them do work with impact across a spectrum of issues connected to sexual violence. Some of the well-established ones include- Stand to End Rape (STER), WineandwhineNG, Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF), The Mirabel Centre, Hands Off Initiative. Reach out to any of them to get effective guidance on navigating any form of sexual violence you or anyone you know have encountered.
Begin the process of healing
Start to heal. Mentally, physically and other wholesome ways. Some of the organizations mentioned above provide guidance and counselling on dealing with the trauma that results from a sexual assault incidence. While you heal, do not feel pressured to pursue legal action if you have not attained that level of mental and physical preparedness. Focus on your healing and take actions only when you are ready to.
Perhaps the most important step yet to be mentioned is the knowledge and acceptance that the incidence is in no way your fault. You did not ask for it, you did not encourage it and you are not responsible for the actions of another person. Leave the blame where it belongs, with the perpetrator.
Do you have more questions about rape and sexual assault? Reach out to our Moderators on our Facebook Page and they will answer your questions.