Whether you’ve been violently raped or have been a victim of date rape drugs and aren’t sure what happened, being raped is a frightening experience and many women just aren’t sure what to do afterwards. Here’s what you need to do if you’ve been raped or think you’ve been raped, so you can begin the healing process.
You’re Not Alone
Remember that if you’ve been raped, you’re not alone. About 10% of women are raped at some point during their lifetime. Know that you did nothing wrong and the rape wasn’t your fault, no matter what the rapist has told you. There is nothing shameful about getting help for rape, and it’s absolutely critical to take steps after being raped to get the proper medical attention and help for your emotional and psychological scars.
What Not To Do
It’s essential that after a rape that you do absolutely nothing except get immediate medical attention. Do not shower, bathe, brush your hair, douche, change clothes or even wash your hands. Go straight to the emergency room. If you’ve woken up after a night out and find that you’re clothes are torn or missing and you’re sore like you’ve had sex but don’t remember it, gather the clothing you were wearing the night before (especially your panties) and bring them to the emergency room with you. Your first instinct may be to take a nice long, hot shower to scrub the rape off you, but it’s incredibly important that you do exactly the opposite. Go to the emergency room right away with your hair a mess and your makeup smeared. No one is going to judge you – they’re going to help you.
What’s In A Rape Kit
At the emergency room, a forensic nurse or doctor will begin the process of collecting evidence, called a rape kit. A vaginal and anal swab will be taken to look for semen, and the undersides of your fingernails will be scraped for skin specimens. Your clothes will be taken and searched for bodily secretions, hairs, clothing fibers and other specimens. It’s going to be uncomfortable, especially after a rape, but it’s the only way to get enough evidence to catch and convict the criminal responsible for the rape. If you shower, wash your hands, brush your hair or teeth, or change your clothes, you’re destroying any chance the police have at finding the rapist. Remember that after the rape kit is finished, you can take as long a shower as you’d like and even burn the clothes you wore if you’d like.
Preventing Pregnancy And Treating STD’s
The other benefit to going directly to the hospital after you’ve been raped is that you can be given emergency contraception, known as the “morning after pill” to prevent pregnancy from the rape incident. You can also be treated for sexually transmitted diseases and infections, so the rape will have no long term effects on your life. While a rape itself is utterly devestating, a pregnancy or STD caused by the rape can wreak havoc on the rest of your life. Going straight to the emergency room and allowing trained and caring professionals to take care of you is the first step to healing, recovering, and putting the rape behind you.