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What to do if you have been sexually assaulted

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Dec 4, 2021

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The scourge of gender-based violence remains rampant in South Africa. According to the crime statistics second quarterly report released on Friday, a total of 9 956 rape cases were reported for the 3 month period.

A total of 11 824 cases of assault on women were reported during the July to September period.

Attempted murder cases amounted to 1 155 and 897 women were murdered.

Another bleak figure indicated that with within the three month period, a total of 287 children were murdered. That is about three children daily.

What should I do if I have been sexually assaulted?

Your first instinct might be to wash or change your clothes. Instead, get to a safe place as soon as possible. This could be the nearest hospital, a police precinct or even a home of someone you trust.

Call the police immediately and go to your local police precinct to report the crime. Ask for a criminal investigation to begin.

Head to your local hospital for immediate medical care. There they will check for injury and prevent sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

You will be fully examined and samples will be taken. This includes nail clippings, genital and mouth swabs and possibly undergarments.

It will be here where they will collect evidence. For the purposes of evidence collection, try to avoid showering, combing your hair or changing your clothes before going to the hospital.

A rape kit is used with a serial number on it. The rape kit is provided by the police officer involved in the case. The serial number of the rape kit is linked to your case number.

The doctor is required to reseal all evidence as well as sealing the box. This is handed from police to doctor, and doctor to police to maintain the chain of evidence.

The box is then handed over to the police who will assist you in obtaining what is called a J88 form. This form is a legal document that the medical doctor who examined you should complete describing all injuries noted.

It is important now more than ever to have support, so tell someone you trust who can support and assist you. You can also visit the rape crisis program for crisis intervention or support groups. There are also a number of 24-hour hotlines that you can call at any time for assistance.

The common assault reporting follows a similar process.

Seek medical assistance immediately and do not change clothes, wash, or clean wounds. As with sexual assault, the doctor will make notes and diagrams of your injuries, also on a J88 form.

Hotlines and websites

South African Police Service

In a case of domestic violence or sexual assault, the South African Police Service will help you find medical attention, shelter and victim counselling.

The SAPS emergency number is 10111

People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa)

Powa provides counselling, over the phone and in person, and provide temporary shelter. They also provide legal help to women who have experienced violence.

Website: http://www.powa.co.za.

Tel: 011 642 4345

E-mail: [email protected]

Childline South Africa

Childline South Africa helps abused children and their families with a free counselling service. The non-profit organisation deals with physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse, behavioural problems and trafficking as well as gives legal advice.

Website: https://www.childlinesa.org.za/

Toll-free helpline: 0800 055 555

Child Welfare South Africa

Child Welfare South Africa focuses on child protection, child care and family development. You can also report neglect and child abuse.

Website: http://childwelfaresa.org.za

Tel: 074 080 8315

Tears Foundation

TEARS Foundation provides access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse.

Website: http://www.tears.co.za

Free SMS helpline: *134*7355#

Tel: 010 590 5920

The Trauma Centre

The Trauma Centre provides trauma counselling and violence prevention services for people affected by violence

Website: http://www.trauma.org.za/(link is external)

Tel: 021 465 7373

Thuthuzela Care Centres

Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) are one-stop facilities that have been introduced as a critical part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy, aiming to reduce secondary victimisation and to build a case ready for successful prosecution. The website also provides access to information on gender-based violence.

Website: http://www.soulcity.org.za/(link is external)

Helplines

SAPS Emergency - 10111

Gender-Based Violence Command Centre - 0800 428 428

STOP Gender Violence Helpline - 0800 150 150/ *120*7867#

Halt Elder Abuse Line (Heal) – helpline for elderly people

Helpline: 0800 003 081

Human Trafficking helpline - 08000 737 283 (08000 rescue) / 082 455 3664

IOL

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