300 Chapter 14: Abuse, violence, and self-defense
Getting help if you are raped or assaulted
Every woman’s experience with rape is different. But there are some things you can
do to help yourself recover. First, ask yourself these questions:
• Who can you ask for help?
• Do you want to tell the police about the rape?
• Where can you go for medical care?
• Do you want to try to punish the rapist?
A disabled woman who is raped needs the same help as any other woman. It is
important to tell someone you trust who can go with you to see a health worker,
and help you decide if you want to tell the police. You may feel sad, hurt, scared
or angry for a long time, so you will also need someone to talk with about your
feelings. Choose someone who cares about you, is strong and dependable, and who
you trust will not tell others. Your family or usual helpers may be too upset to be
able to give you all the support you need.
The stigma of rape
In some places, a woman who has been raped is treated as if she has
brought shame or disgrace to her family or the whole community. She is
unfairly blamed not only for the attack on her, but for the moral failing
of the entire community. This is called stigma. Because of stigma, a
woman who was raped may be afraid to tell other people. She may fear
her community will treat her differently if they know about the rape. Or,
a woman’s family may not want anyone to know because they think it
will dishonor the family. The stigma can be worse for a disabled woman,
because it usually adds to the stigma that people already direct toward
others who are disabled or have disabled people in the family.
A woman who has been raped is never to blame for the rape. A woman
who has been raped needs support from her family and her community.
Stigma is a barrier to a woman healing and a community preventing sexual
assault in the future.
Take as much time as
you need. I will listen
If you speak differently, you may find it
hard to explain what happened, especially
if you are upset. If you are ashamed or
frightened, the words may be harder for you
to say. Sometimes it helps to draw a picture
to explain what happened.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007