302 Chapter 14: Abuse, violence, and self-defense
If you go to the police
In most places, rape is a crime. But it may take a long time and be very difficult to
prove you were raped. Make your decision to go to the police carefully. Have the
police helped other women in your community who have been raped? If you want
the rape to remain private, will the police keep others from learning about it?
Never go to the police alone. In some communities, a
woman who goes to the police alone is at risk for being
raped again by the police. Be sure someone else can go
If you want to report the rape to the police, you
must go as soon as possible. Do not wash, shower,
or bathe before you go, and do not change the clothes
you were wearing. This can help prove you were
raped. The police may ask you to have a medical
exam from a doctor who works with the police. The
exam can also help prove you were raped.
If the rapist is arrested, you will have to identify him in front of the police
or in front of a judge in court. Going to court for a rape is never easy. Describing
what happened may make you have the feelings of being raped all over again.
Not everyone will understand. Some may try to blame you or say you were lying.
And some people will not listen to you because of your disability. They may
believe a disabled woman cannot be a truthful or convincing witness. But some
women with disabilities have been successful in court, especially when they have
support from their community. When you decide to go to court, make sure you
always go with someone you trust.
Health Problems Caused by Rape
After a rape, it is best to see a health worker, even if you are not badly hurt. Tell the
health worker you have been raped. She can help prevent and treat common health
problems caused by rape.
You can prevent pregnancy if you act quickly and use emergency family planning.
Speak with a health worker about this. Use emergency family planning as soon as
possible after the rape, but no later than 5 days (120 hours). See page 357.
Even if you use emergency contraception, if you do not get your next monthly
bleeding on time, have an exam right away to make sure you are not pregnant. If
you think you are pregnant, see a health worker. In some countries, abortion is legal
if a girl or woman has been raped.
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007