Getting Help

Rape is a violent act where the rapist forces his victim to have sexual intercourse with him. What you can do if you are raped or if you know someone has been raped? 

What To Do If You Are Raped

Do not wash yourself or change your clothes, even if you really want to. Doing so will destroy important evidence of the rape, such as semen, blood, saliva, hairs and fibers.

Find a friend. It can be very difficult for a rape survivor to make a report on rape given the trauma of the incident. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to the hospital and/or police station for support, or contact a women’s NGO or counseling service.

Go for a medical examination at the Emergency & Trauma Department of a government hospital immediately. Doctors will examine you in a private room – One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) – to gather evidence of the rape. You will first be provided with forms requesting your approval for the medical examination, and that the information is used for police investigation. The doctor may examine your genital areas and your clothes. While you may feel uncomfortable, it is very important to gather evidence right away.

Make a police report as soon as possible. At the hospital, you can also file a police report at the police counter. You may make a report at the police station first; a policewoman should accompany you to the hospital after you report is lodged. You can still make a police report later, but after 72 hours, a rape is considered a ‘cold case’ i.e., the evidence may no longer be there. When you report the rape, you are preventing the rapist from hurting another woman.

Talk to someone. Talking to someone you trust or contacting women’s NGO or a counseling service is important, even if you decide not to go to the police. Talking can help you deal with feelings of fear, anxiety, and worthlessness those victims of sexual assault often experience. Call us at WCC for free and strictly confidential counselling.

How Do I Help A Rape Survivor?

If your friend has been raped, she is experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions – she may be calm, withdrawn, or hysterical or she may also react with laughter, anger, apathy, or shock. Every survivor copes with the trauma differently. Her greatest fear is that nobody believes her.

It’s also one of the reasons that cause survivors to delay the reporting of the rape – it is important that you believe her. Believing in her will encourage her and help her feel heard and understood. She may have felt that she was powerless resulting in being extremely vulnerable with low self esteem.

Reassure her that she handled the situation in the best way possible. Offer her choices to regain control of the situation by providing information about police procedures, medical procedures and counseling services. She may not remember all you tell her but it’s OK. You can repeat the information later. You should never pressure her to make choices.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Listen to her.
  • Believe her. It is important for rape survivors to know that people believe them. Few people lie about being raped.
  • Thank her for telling you. Let her know that you understand how hard it is to talk about what happened.
  • Support her and tell her that it was not her fault. She did nothing to provoke the rape, and no woman deserves to be raped. The only person to blame is the rapist.
  • Reassure her of her worth and express your respect for her strength as a survivor.
  • Respect her decisions and allow her to make her own choices.
  • Encourage her to make a police report and/or contact a women’s group such as WCC to talk to a counsellor or Penang Befrienders. Every woman’s reaction to abuse is different. Because of the powerful effect of emotions like shame, self-blame, fear and hurt, the abuse and its impacts need to be understood before recovery can begin. An experienced counsellor can help.

Rape Q&A

What is the difference between rape and sex?
Rape is a violent act where the rapist forces his victim to have sexual intercourse with him. It is an act of aggression to humiliate and control her. Rape is not sex because sex involves the mutual consent of both partners.

What is statutory rape?
Sexual intercourse with a girl who is 16 years old and younger, with or without her consent is considered statutory rape.

Why do men rape?
The common misconception is that men are unable to control their lust. However, the reality is that rape is not about sexual attraction or lust – it is about power and control over the victim and to use her as a sex object.

How is rape different from other sexual crimes?
The law defines rape as the penetration of a man’s penis into the vagina of a woman without her consent. Women and men can be sexually assaulted in other ways, such as forced oral sex, anal sex, and other unwanted sexual touch. For these crimes, the offender can be charged under other sections of the law, such as molestation, sodomy, outrage of modesty, or attempted rape. If you are a victim of these other sexual crimes, you can make a police report.

Can you get pregnant or an STD from rape?
Yes, there is a risk of both getting pregnant and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) if a condom was not used during the rape. Get tested in a government hospital at the Emergency & Trauma Department where you can also make a police report on the rape.

Can a woman get married after she has been raped?
Yes, a woman who has been raped can still get married and share a life with someone she loves.

Does a woman have to marry her rapist?
Sometimes there may be pressure on a woman to marry the rapist, especially if she is made pregnant by him. No one should be forced to marry her rapist. If a woman does marry her rapist, he is likely to continue to abuse her after their marriage.

Check out useful resources you can use.

Back to Rape page.