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what to do after being raped
Photo by Ruslan Alekso

If you have been raped, the sheer weight of what happened to you, is crippling. Someone shook you violently at your core, and left you to pick up the pieces. 

If you have recently been raped (or you know someone who has), please consider these 7 things you should do after being raped:

1. Get Somewhere Safe

Before you can complete any other steps, you need to get yourself somewhere safe and away from more harm. Try to leave the area where the assault happened, and away from the abuser.

It’s up to you if you would like to be alone right now, or if you want to be with a trusted friend or family member who can support you.

2. Leave Your Body in the Same Condition

After being raped it’s highly suggested that you do not shower, change or wash your clothing, or throw away any ‘evidence’. This is because your body will have indications of the assault both on and inside you. Showering will wash away evidence and make it harder to back up your case in court.

I know you feel dirty and uncomfortable in your own skin right now, but take everything one step at a time. The decisions you make after the assault will impact you now and in the future.


3. Call the Police/911

Don’t be afraid to call the police and report the assault. I know it’s scary and you may be afraid of what happens next. Your feelings are valid. Remember you have just experienced a traumatic event. 

The reason I suggest all victims report their assault, is to minimize the chance of the abuser reoffending, hurting someone else, or you again. There is also a high chance the abuser has assaulted someone else before you, and unless stopped, they will continue to hurt other people. 

Believe it or not, there is also some closure you may feel from reporting, especially if they are convicted and serve time in prison for their actions. 

You can receive support from victim services (or equivalent services relevant in your area), which includes financial compensation and counseling. To learn more about victim services in the Edmonton, Alberta area click here.

If you are afraid to report your assault, ask a loved one to go to the police/call the police with you (I did!). Be prepared to be interviewed by the police, and do the best you can to recall the details of what happened.

It will take COURAGE, and STRENGTH you don’t feel you have, however, pray for what you need. Rely on the promise that God is with you.

The officers that helped me were amazing. They didn’t push me hard for information, they were kind, and they were empathetic to my current state of being (I was such a mess, and was coping by being humorous). I truly appreciated them, and the detective that was later assigned to my case.

You have people on your side!

supportive friend after being raped
Photo by SCHVETS production

You have people on your side!

4. Seek Medical Attention Immediately

If you are not ready to call the police right after the assault, PLEASE go straight to the hospital for emergency care. In my experience, when I called the police, they instructed me to go to the hospital where they met me. 

Either way, the hospital will complete a ‘rape kit’ to assess the damage done to your body. This is part of ‘evidence’, and you want to be mindful to not tamper with your body after the assault. 

When a nurse completes the rape kit, she will examine your body thoroughly for bruises, cuts, bleeding, fluids etc. This includes a vaginal examination. She will be looking for remaining semen, which is collected and set aside as evidence. Evidence collection does not require you to file a report with the police or press charges; it just safeguards these options for the future, in case you are not ready to report right now.  

The examination is invasive, and most likely you will still be in shock. However, do your best to remain calm. Pray your way through it. Ask a loved one to meet you at the hospital so you are not alone. 

Evidence collection does not require you to file a report with the police or press charges; it safeguards these options for the future, in case you are not ready to report right now.  

You will be given the option to take emergency contraception. The choice is up to you. You will also be given the option to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) both now and probably a few weeks from the assault. 

If you haven’t eaten recently, ask for some food and drink. You may not be able to go home for a while and most likely you will be hungry and fatigued. 

Lastly, a social worker will give you some brief counsel on next steps and answer any questions you may have. 

I’m sorry you have to go through this. The pain won’t last forever.

As someone who has recovered from the same trauma, let me tell you that going through these hard things now will allow your future self to feel some closure and justice from what happened to you.

The pain won’t last forever.

5. Go Home and Rest

rest after being raped
Photo by Wokandapix

After the police and hospital have collected the information and evidence from you, go home and rest. In my experience I was up all night with the police and in the hospital, so I was completely exhausted and just needed to go to sleep. 

You have been through a major trauma that has left you shaken up, confused and shocked. 

Sleep for as long as you need to.

Calm your mind and soul.

6. Legal Options

Shortly after I was assaulted, and had reported the incident, I was connected to a lawyer who talked me through my legal rights and options as a victim of crime.

The man who abused me was caught by police within an hour of the assault, so he was in custody. This meant there would be a trial. My lawyer then prepped me to testify in court. 

Yes, this is scary.

Fortunately the abuser pleaded guilty therefore I did not need to testify. This will not always be the case, so you need to mentally prepare yourself to testify. You will have to recall the incident in court, in front of the person who assaulted you.

Remember, you can bring supportive people with you. 

You can also ask your lawyer, the police or a social worker, to refer you to a professional advocate who can support you through the legal/court process. Again, the resources will differ from area to area so you need to do some digging to know what resources are available to you. 

7. Victim Impact Statement

If you have the opportunity to write a victim impact statement, I strongly suggest you DO IT

A victim impact statement is a statement that you voluntarily write, to let the judge know how the crime impacted you. 

It is read out loud during court (unless you ask for it to not be) and others in the courtroom, including the person who assaulted you, will hear it. 

Your victim impact statement can talk about how the crime:

  • Emotionally hurt you
  • Physically hurt you
  • Cost you money
  • Made you fearful

I chose to write my impact statement because I wanted the man who assaulted me to know EXACTLY what he did to me, how he impacted me, and how I was going to move forward, despite my immense pain. 

After court, my lawyer told me that after she read my statement the entire courtroom was quiet, and it was really powerful. 

Take courage sis. You can do this.

Your statement does not need to be written right away, but the courts will need it completed within a specific time frame. Check with your lawyer or counsel when you need to complete your impact statement.

Next Steps

After you have had some time to rest, to calm down and to process a bit of what happened, it is a good idea to think about what supports you need to help you process and move forward.

Where do you go from here?

Things to consider:

  • Do I want to see a counselor/therapist/trauma coach to help me process what happened to me?
  • Do I need to take some time off work? What would that look like, and would it be paid or unpaid leave?
  • Who do I want to share what happened to me? Who do I not want to share with?
  • Do I want to participate in a support group?
  • How can I give myself the patience and grace to heal at my own pace?
  • How will I manage my triggers and flashbacks?

Be patient with yourself as you navigate your life moving forward.

Do not feel like you need to walk through this alone. It is normal to feel nothing at all and then everything at once. It is also normal to struggle with PTSD, depression and anxiety after trauma. 

Our Father is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. He will never leave you or forsake you, even when you feel dirty, isolated, damaged or alone.

You can heal after being raped.

One step at a time.

Share this article with other survivors, family and friends to help us raise awareness of domestic violence and educate the church (links at the top of the page).

We are stronger together.

He is faithful,

Here are some Canadian and international resources to help you:

  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) – this hotline is free, confidential, and open 24 hours/day.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3244 (TTY) for support, shelter, safety planning, or referrals to other services – it is free, confidential, and open 24 hours/day.
  • Salal Sexual Violence Support Centre 24-Hour Crisis and Information Line 1-604-255-6344 (Canadian),
  • The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline is 1-800-900-1010,
  • Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, 1-780-423-4121 or 1-866-403-8000 (chat, text, call)
  • Saffron Centre 1 (780) 449-0900 or 1-866-403-8000 (chat, text, call) ,
  • Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (24/7) 1-866-956-1099
  • To access the 211 Alberta resource list click here

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