What Can I Do?

If you are raped, here are some actions you can take:

  1. Do not wash yourself or change your clothes, even if you really want to. It will destroy important evidence of the rape, such as semen, blood, saliva, hairs and fibers.
  2. Find a friend. It can be very difficult for a rape survivor to make a report on rape given the trauma of the incident. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to the hospital and/or police station for support, or contact a women’s NGO or counseling service.
  3. Go for a medical examination at the Emergency & Trauma Department of a government hospital immediately. Doctors will examine you in a private room One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) to gather evidence of the rape. You will first be provided with forms requesting your approval for the medical examination, and that the information is used for police investigation. The doctor may examine your genital areas and your clothes. While you may feel uncomfortable, it is very important to gather evidence right away.
  4. Make a police report as soon as possible. At the hospital, you can also file a police report at the police counter. You may make a police station first; whereby a policewoman should accompany you to the hospital after you report is lodged. You can still make a police report later, but after 72 hours, a rape is considered a ‘cold case’ i.e., the evidence may no longer be there.
  5. Talk to someone. Talking to someone you trust or contacting women’s NGO or a counseling service is important, even if you decide not to go to the police. Talking can help you deal with feelings of fear, anxiety, and worthlessness those victims of sexual assault often experience. WCC services are free and strictly confidential.

Remember that rape is not your fault! The only person to blame for a rape is the rapist. By reporting the rape, you may be able to stop the rapist from hurting other women.

How Can I Help A Rape Survivor?

A rape survivor experiences a range of feelings after the ordeal and will have special needs at this time. She may be calm, withdrawn, or hysterical. She may also react in laughter, anger, apathy, or shock. Each survivor copes with the trauma of the assault in a different way. Her greatest fear is that nobody will believe her.

This is one of the reasons that cause survivors to delay the reporting of assaults – it is important to make her feel that you believe her. Believing that it is real, that it happened will encourage a rape survivor and help her feel that she is being heard and understood. At the time of the assault, the survivor may have been or have felt that she was powerless. Consequently, she may feel extremely vulnerable with very low esteem.

She needs reassurance that she handled the attack in the best possible way and that she is now safe because the rape may have taken away any feeling of control. By offering a rape survivor choices at this stage, for example, by providing information about police procedures, medical procedures, and counseling services, you can help to make her feel she is regaining control of the situation. But remember that she may not absorb or use all the information at that time. It should, therefore, be made available again when the survivor is more able to make decisions. She should not be pressured to make choices when she is not ready as this will not help her put control back to her life. If your friend is raped, here are some actions you can take:

  • Listen to her.
  • Believe her. It is important for rape victims to know that people believe them. Few people lie about being raped.
  • Thank her for telling you. Let her know that you understand how hard it is to talk about what happened.
  • Support her and tell her that it was not her fault. She did nothing to provoke the rape, and no woman deserves to be raped. The only person to blame is the rapist.
  • Reassure her of her worth and express your respect for her strength as a victim of rape.
  • Respect her decisions and allow her to make her own choices.
  • Encourage her to make a police report and/or contact a women’s group such as WCC to talk to a counselor or Penang Befrienders. Every woman’s reaction to abuse is different. Because of the powerful effect of emotions like shame, self-blame, fear and hurt, the abuse and its impacts need to be understood before recovery can begin. Confiding in an experienced counselor in a women’s group can help. She does not have to suffer in silence.

How Can We Put an End to Rape?

Violence is a means of dominance, control and power. In societies, where men are dominant over women, violence is used against women in such forms as rape, domestic violence, and etc. In any society, where women are regarded and treated as unequal to men, violence against women will continue. To stop violence against women, the following activities can be carried out:

  • Organize legal literacy campaigns to keep women informed of their rights.
  • Campaign to change attitudes towards women in general and survivors in particular.
  • Treat women with respect e.g. neither making nor tolerating sexist jokes and comments about women.
  • Campaign for changes in police, hospital, and legal procedures for survivors.
  • Campaign to increase women’s consciousness on gender relations and development issues.Campaign for legal reforms to remove laws, which are discriminatory to women and enact laws which will protect the rights of women and children.
  • Educate the people around you by helping to dispel common “rape perceptions.” Rape is never the victim’s fault. Men should know that their violent behaviour is not acceptable.
  • Support the work of the WCC and other women’s organizations that are campaigning to stop violence against women.Rape (English)