How do I report rape?

Some background, some drama

Rape victims experience fear, disbelief, anger, hurt and a sense of betrayal. Most victims sense a feeling that life had been changed forever and wonder whether they can ever cope. Remember that rape is ultimately the rapist's fault, not the victim's. Whether to report rape can be a difficult choice. You may feel that people may ridicule you, worry that police won’t believe you or won’t do anything about it, or that, for a variety of reasons, you’ll face more harassment by engaging police than by just getting on with your life. But learning to survive and cope with rape is ultimately in the victim’s hands, however long the healing takes.

Do’s and Don’ts

It’s important to share and report rape. Keeping quiet will only give credence to the crime and the harasser. The “How Do I" series tries to list down a few Do’s and don’ts can guide you to report rape.

Do’s

  • Document everything. Keep records of the rape. Keep all evidence intact. This will help you to lodge a police complaint and take legal action.
  • Find spaces where you feel safe where you don’t have to worry about running into the rapist.
  • Built a support network and surround yourself by positive people who want to support you. You don’t have to deal with this by yourself and it is okay to ask for help.
  • Talk to a counsellor. Dealing with rape can be very hard and it can be useful to talk to someone who can help you deal with the impact of what happened.
  • Report the incident(s) to the police. Contact help centres to learn about bringing an advocate with you and what to expect.
  • Call a local law enforcement agency, rape crisis center or victim's rights group. A volunteer can take you to the hospital.
  • Get a medical exam. This will be important if you decide to press charges.

Dont’s

  • Don’t refer to rape in any way that implies consent.
  • Don’t downplay the severity of this crime; the long-term effects of which can be devastating.
  • Don’t assume that you are alone; often it takes one person coming forward for others to share like experiences.
  • Don’t let people blame you. It is not your fault. The abuser is solely responsible for this crime.
  • Don’t hesitate to source experts in the field, such as advocates, lawyers and psychologists.
  • Don’t use ambiguous or minimizing language when reporting the crime. Clarity and transparency will allow people to help adequately.

Last words

Reporting rape can give you a sense of justice and empowerment. Further, it may prevent future crimes. It can help raise awareness about how upsetting and inappropriate rape really is. It’s important to stand up to the rapist, so that you can move on and start your healing process.

Sources and citations