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What to do if you’ve been sexually assaulted

Written by Cathy Grosvenor

If you have been sexually assaulted, these are the steps that you can follow to recieve help.

Seek medical help as soon as possible – At a healthcare facility, any injuries will be treated and evidence will be collected, which will help if your case goes to court. Medication will be provided to prevent HIV, other sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.

The easiest way to get medical help is to go to the closest hospital's emergency department, clinic, or police station. The SAPS are expected to provide transport to an appropriate healthcare facility.

Things to avoid – Do not wash yourself before seeking help, because this will destroy vital evidence. If you must change your clothing, take the clothes you were wearing at the time of the attack with you.If you experienced forced oral sex or kissing, do not smoke, eat, drink or brush your teeth until you’ve been examined.

Things to do –Take along sheets or other items that may have evidence on them. Place the unwashed items in a paper bag or roll them up in newspaper. Don’t put them in a plastic bag, because this may ruin the evidence. If possible, take along clean clothes.

Support– A friend or a loved one that you trust can provide you with support.

 Lay a charge – Lay a charge at the police station once you are up to it. If the survivor is a child or a person with a mental impairment, a case must by law be opened with the police. There is no time limit on when you can lay a charge.

Get counselling – Counselling should be offered at the health facility. If this does not happen, contact the Gender-Based-Violence Command Centre to talk to someone about your ordeal. Care Centre- You can also seek help at a Thuthuzela Care Centre. These are one-stop facilities for survivors of sexual assaults.

They provide a place of comfort for survivors and give them access to medical professionals, skilled prosecutors, social workers, magistrates and the police. Services are free of charge. Visit www.gov.za/TCC to find your closest centre.

This information was supplied by the Western Cape Government.

If you’re a victim of GBV, or you know someone who needs help, contact the national GBV Command Centre.

Call 080 0428 428, send a ‘please call me’ by dialling *120*7867#, or SMS ‘help’to 31531.