I’ve been raped. What do I do now?

Protest outside Parliament after the rape of Anene Booysen. Photo by Juliette Garms.

Barbara Maregele

28 September 2015

“There are so many things that rapists and communities do that feed myths and false notions about rape,” says Rape Crisis director Kathleen Dey.

“Rape survivors are often shamed into thinking that they were somehow asking for it,” she says.

South Africa has a high incidence of reported rape: 46,200 rape cases were recorded in the 2013/14 police statistics (see page 19). However, the Medical Research Council estimates that only one in nine rapes are reported to authorities.

What is rape? Can husbands rape their wives?

“Rape is being forced to have sex without your consent. It’s a violent crime,” Dey explains. She says many people still believe that a wife can’t be raped by her husband. “This is rape, but it’s considered a norm so that people, especially older people, wouldn’t consider it rape,” she says.

Dey said that another myth that needed to be addressed was often fueled by the police. “When someone is raped when they are drunk, they are often shamed into thinking that they were somehow asking for it,” Dey says. But she points out that people who are drunk are not able to give consent, so police should not dismiss women who say they were raped while drunk.

What to do if you’ve been raped?

Rape is a violent and traumatic crime that often leaves physical and emotional scarring. While the incident may be extremely overwhelming, it is important to get help and immediate medical care where needed.

Rape Crisis recommends you do the following If you’ve been raped:

KathleenDey-CareOfRapeCrisis.jpgKathleen Dey, director of Rape Crisis. Photo courtesy of Rape Crisis.

Reporting rape

Dey said men who have been raped are often more reluctant to attend counselling than women.

“We find that while men report the rape because they’re keen on getting justice, but they often turn their backs on the rest of the process. About one percent of the men we see at hospitals make it through to our counselling centres. Men are the victims of about 10% of rapes,” she says.

When you report a rape:


Rape Crisis has offices in Observatory, Khayelitsha and Athlone.

“We’ve got people from Khayelitsha that would rather travel all the way to our Observatory office for counselling. If you don’t want anyone to know, you will try to get help as far from your home as possible,” Dey says.

She says it is important not to force a survivor into counselling soon after the crime, if he or she is not ready. “I recommend that the family of a rape survivor gets counselling. They will be the people who need to understand why the survivor may not want to talk about the incident immediately or how to support them once they do decide to talk about it.”

“All of our counselling is done by volunteers we’ve trained in the community. When you come to us, you can speak to someone who understands where you come from, speaks your language and may understand your religious beliefs,” Dey says.

For more information vist the Rape Crisis website or call the 24 hour helpline based in Observatory on (021) 447 9762 from 9am to 5pm. Contact the Khayelitsha counselling centre on 021 361 9085 or Athlone on (021) 633 9229.