Rape is any form of sexual activity that you don't
agree to, ranging from touching to penetration.
Rape is a crime even if you already know the person
who attacked you -- if the person is a spouse,
another family member, or a friend or someone
you work with. It's a crime even if you didn't
fight back. It's a crime even if you were drinking,
taking drugs, given drugs or unconscious. Anyone
can be raped -- men and women, children and elderly
What should I do if I've been raped?
If you're raped, you should first get to a safe
place, away from your attacker. Then you should
go to a hospital emergency room to be checked.
You can call the police from the hospital. Don't
bathe or change your clothes before you go to
the hospital. Just get there as fast as you can.
What happens in the emergency room?
The doctor in the emergency room will examine
your body for injuries and collect evidence. The
attacker may have left behind pieces of evidence
such as clothing fibers, hairs, saliva or semen
that may help identify him. In most hospitals,
a "rape kit" is used to help collect
evidence. A rape kit is a standard kit with little
boxes, microscope slides and plastic bags for
collecting and storing evidence. Samples of evidence
may be used in court.
Next, the doctor will need to do a blood test.
Women will be checked for pregnancy and all rape
victims are tested for diseases that can be passed
through sex. Cultures of the cervix may be sent
to a lab to check for disease, too. The results
of these tests will come back in several days
or a few weeks. It's important for you to see
your own doctor in 1 or 2 weeks to review the
results of these tests. If any of the tests are
positive, you'll need to talk with your doctor
What kind of treatment might I need?
The emergency room doctor can tell you about different
treatments. If you take the birth control pill
or have an intrauterine device (IUD), your chance
of pregnancy is small. If you don't take the pill,
you may consider pregnancy prevention treatment.
Pregnancy prevention consists of taking 2 estrogen
pills when you first get to the hospital and 2
more pills 12 hours later. This treatment reduces
the risk of pregnancy by 60% to 90%. (The treatment
may make you feel sick to your stomach.)
The risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease
during a rape is about 5% to 10%. Your doctor
can prescribe medicine for chlamydia, gonorrhea
and syphilis when you first get to the hospital.
If you haven't already been vaccinated for hepatitis
B, you should get that vaccination when you first
see the emergency room doctor. Then you'll get
another vaccination in 1 month and a third in
6 months. The doctor will also tell you about
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Your chance of getting HIV from a rape is less
than 1%, but if you want preventive treatment,
you can take 2 medicines-- zidovudine (brand name:
Retrovir) and lamivudine (brand name: Epivir)
-- for 4 weeks.
What else should I know?
Being raped can have a huge effect on your life.
You may be upset, and you may feel disbelief,
fear, anxiety and guilt. You may have an upset
stomach or feel nervous. About half of all people
who are raped say they are depressed the first
year after the attack. It's important that you
keep appointments with your doctor. Be sure to
tell him or her about any physical, emotional
or sexual problems you have during this time,
even if you don't think they're related to the
Where can I get more information?
Be sure to visit your doctor 1 or 2 weeks after
the rape to review the results of the tests done
in the emergency room. Your doctor will give you
information and tell you more about other support
services, too. Some of these services include
hospital social workers, local rape crisis services,
your local public health department and the state
attorney general's office.
Remember, sexual assault is a terrible crime.
But it's not your fault, and you didn't cause
it to happen. Rape is against the law. You have
the right to report this crime to the police,
and you have the right to be treated fairly during
the justice process.
to The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic