24-hour Helpline: 021 447 9762

Immediately after being raped, you may feel physical pain, shock, disgust, and fear. Some survivors feel numb or dazed and may be unable to talk about the rape, while others are openly upset and angry. In the days and weeks ahead, you may have nightmares and feel guilty, afraid ashamed, powerless, angry, depressed or unable to bear being touched.

Being able to talk to someone who understands is a huge step towards recovery. You can call our 24 hour crisis line – 021 447 9762 – at any time of the day or night and talk to an experienced counsellor in English, Afrikaans or Xhosa. You can also talk to our counsellors face-to-face at our offices in Observatory, Athlone or Khayelitsha. There is no charge for these services and all cases are treated as confidential.

Our counselling is designed to make you feel safe, supported, respected and able to make informed decisions.

Know Your Rights

As a survivor of crime, you have the right:

  • to be treated with fairness and with respect for your dignity and privacy
  • to offer information
  • to protection
  • to assistance
  • to compensation
  • to restitution
  • to legal advice

What To Do If
Someone Raped You

Even if you don’t report the rape, you still have the right
to free treatment to prevent HIV within 72 hours of the rape.


    Do this as soon as possible.


    It may be very difficult for you to tell someone what has happened to you, but it’s important because this person can support your story and back you up in court.


    There might be hair, blood or semen on your body or clothes that can be used as evidence of the rape.


    Go straight to a hospital, community health centre or doctor.


    If you want to report the rape, go to the police station nearest to where the attack took place as soon as you can. Ask a friend or family member to go with you for support. Keep the name of the police officer in charge of your case and your case number.

You & Rape books

You and Rape is the essential guide for rape survivors – providing insight into how to overcome physical and emotional injury, to practical advice about laying charges and the criminal justice system.


    If you fear retribution or intimidation by the rapist/s, make sure the police are aware of this and ask that the rapist/s be not allowed out on bail.


    A doctor will examine every part of your body to find and collect samples of hair, blood or semen. This is part of the police investigation to gather medical evidence of the crime.


    Ask for pamphlets or booklets on rape and the number of a local counselling service to give you further support and advice about the police matter, court case and any other effects of the rape.


    Whether or not you want to lay a charge, make sure that within 72 hours you take:

    • The Morning After Pill (MAP) to prevent pregnancy;
    • An HIV test and antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV infection;
    • Antibiotics to prevent a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI).


Go to the nearest police station and tell the person at the front desk that you want to report a case of rape. You can take someone with you that you trust if you want to.

You should be taken to a private room where a volunteer will be available to support you and explain the procedures. A policewoman (or policeman, if there are no female officers available) will take a statement of what happened in your own words. The police will open a docket and investigate the crime.

You will be sent for a forensic medical examination at the nearest health facility (the police should take you there). A doctor will examine you in detail and may take blood, hair and other samples for DNA analysis. You may also be offered medical treatment, after which you may go home.

The perpetrator will be arrested. If you live together in the same house, he will not be granted bail and will remain in prison until the end of the trial.

The docket will be sent to court and the prosecutor will decide whether or not to prosecute – maybe the case is not strong enough or there is not enough evidence.

If there is enough evidence, a date for the trial will be set. The prosecutor will discuss the case with you and any other witnesses beforehand.

You will have to testify against the rapist in court where he will be present as the accused. His defense attorney will also ask you questions about what happened.

If the rapist is found guilty, he will be sentenced to at least ten years in jail.

If you don’t want to report the rape, it is still important to get medication to prevent HIV within 72 hours.

Supporting a rape victim

Someone close to you has been raped. She has been through a traumatic time and may be feeling a range of emotions. You too might be feeling scared, angry, and unsure of how you can help her.

Here are 8 things you can do to help:

  1. Don't judge her

    You may believe that she could have avoided being raped. She may also think that she could have avoided it (if only I wasn't at that place or if I wasn't doing such and such). The truth is she would have avoided it if she could. It is important for you both to accept that it has happened.

  2. Listen

    Let her talk as much as she wants to – and listen. Good listening requires effort and concentration. Your own inner voice may drown out what she is saying because you are shocked, hurt or unsure of what to say. When a person shares something important with you, she is putting a lot of trust in you. She needs to know that you believe her, that you are trying to understand her and that you are sincere and trustworthy.

  3. Respect her privacy

    Don't make her talk when she doesn't want to. Just because she isn't talking doesn't mean that she is not benefiting from your company – or that you should fill the silence by saying something yourself. She will talk when she feels ready.

  4. Give her time

    She is not going to feel better overnight. It is often difficult to have the patience to let a woman feel better at her own pace, but she knows how long she needs.

  5. Don't pressurise her

    You may be desperate to do something concrete, as if you could somehow wave a magic wand so that her pain disappears. Don't be so desperate to make things better that she starts to hide her feelings in order to make YOU feel better.

  1. Don't insist she goes for counselling

    You may think that counselling is the answer for a woman traumatised by rape, so you book an appointment for her and almost force her to come in. This is not a good thing. Counselling only works when the person is ready to talk about what happened and wants to get help. If she is not ready, she will just feel that decisions are being made for her and that she is being forced to talk about the rape. This can result in secondary trauma. Rather come in for counselling yourself and get support and advice about how to help the rape survivor.

  2. Let her make her own decisions

    A woman who has been raped has experienced a situation in which her control has been forcefully taken away from her. Once she starts making her own decisions, she is able to start feeling that she is in control of her life again. Even if you think her decisions are wrong, don't force/cajole her into doing what you want her to do.

  3. Don't hide your own feelings

    You too are human. Tell her how you feel. It is better for her to know how you feel, because if she doesn't, she will have to guess. This might just add to her worries. Take time to yourself if you need it. It is impossible to be strong all the time and the rape survivor will soon sense that she is a burden to you. Talk to a friend or family member or a counsellor at Rape Crisis (you can even phone in for a chat if it is difficult for you to come in).

Help for men who’ve been raped

Male rape is an issue that is surrounded by silence. It’s seldom reported, or even mentioned. There’s a tendency to think that it doesn’t happen, or that only gay men get raped. As a result, rapists get away with their crime.

Male rape survivors may feel too ashamed to speak out – you don’t want to admit that you were not man enough to protect yourself. In fact, the force used by a rapist to subdue a male victim is often much more violent than that used towards a woman.

Society in general has a picture of women and children as victims and men as the strong ones. You may share this belief; if you’ve never even thought of the possibility of being raped, the shock is even greater. You might doubt whether it could really have been rape.

Another reason for under-reporting is that there are few organisations that support male rape survivors. This is likely to make you feel as if there is no point in even looking for help.

As a man, you may have been taught not to show your emotions. You may bottle up your feelings and try to get on with your life as if nothing has happened. This may lead to physical illness, headaches, fear and panic attacks.

If you haven’t told anybody about the rape, the decision to come for counselling is totally your own. People deal with emotions in their own way and it is your choice whether you want to speak about it, when, and with whom. Counselling is a way to find out more about recovering from rape and to get support in discovering your own strengths, inner resources and coping skills. Rape counselling also assists you in managing the criminal justice system processes and procedures you might have to follow.

“A man can’t be raped” and other myths about rape

Rape myths are commonly held beliefs which are not true. People use these myths to claim that the woman or man wasn’t really raped or that it wasn’t that bad.

Learn the truth