I've just become a victim of rape. I desperately need help and don't know where to find it - what should I do now? So far, I haven't told my parents, and no one else knows. I'm ashamed to admit it to friends and family, and I'm afraid I'll only make a bad situation worse if I go to the police. Meanwhile, I feel so dirty, guilty, worthless, desperate, and scared that I can hardly think or make a move.
We're so sorry for the painful emotions and confusion you're experiencing. Though it doesn't change anything, it might help to know that feelings of shame, guilt, and fear are normal human reactions to an act of violence. Rape is a violation of a woman's body, as well as an assault on her sense of personal identity. We understand why you're feeling stunned and paralyzed right now.
If you're a teen or a pre-teen, you need to seek immediate assistance from a safe, responsible, caring adult or group of adults. Your parents are the first and most obvious choice. However, if for some reason you feel that you can't count on them in this situation (for example, if they've been negligent, abusive, or uninvolved in the past ) we urge you to talk to someone else you can trust, such as a teacher, a school counselor, a pastor, a youth leader, or the parent of a friend. Get together with this person right away and let them know what happened.
It would also be a good idea to make an appointment with a professional counselor, preferably one who is a Christian therapist who specializes in trauma care. You need the comfort and reassurance that come from a strong support system.
Once you've confided in a trustworthy adult, ask him or her to help you call the legal authorities in your area. As soon as possible, you should also go to a physician or a local Emergency Room where you can receive necessary medical attention. If you haven't already done so, we'd urge you not to bathe or shower until after you've seen a doctor. If possible, save the clothes you were wearing at the time. Do what you can to preserve as much physical evidence of the crime as possible.
A medical exam to check your physical condition should be done, even if you don't believe you've been injured. This is a way to collect evidence and provide counseling regarding the possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. As with the police report, parts of the examination will be difficult and uncomfortable, especially if you haven't had a pelvic exam before. But the long-term benefits of proper medical care are worth the temporary discomfort.
We understand why you might not want to take these steps. Though it won't be easy, it's in your own best interests to report this incident to the police and the Department of Social Services without delay. This is an important part of taking back control of your life, and it's also a way to overcome feeling like a victim. If you don't report what happened, the authorities may ask you why later on.
If you find that you absolutely cannot do this, your parents or adult mentors can make the call for you. For additional guidance, we suggest you contact the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-879-6682. As a victim of sexual assault you have been wrongfully violated, and you have every right to seek justice.
Rape is defined as any sexual activity attempted or completed by force, threat of force, or coercion against a person's will. If you know in your heart that you have been the unwilling victim of sexual aggression, then you must recognize that this incident was not your fault. If the aggressor was a stranger, it's obvious that you cannot be blamed for his behavior. If he was an acquaintance or friend, or if you were the victim of date rape, you'll need to realize that even people we know can sometimes force us to do things against our will. If he was an adult in a position of authority or trust, then his actions are doubly blameworthy. They should be brought to light before he has an opportunity to harm you or someone else in the future.
Most importantly, remember that God is not condemning you, and He does not blame you for what happened. He loves you, He's on your side, and He has promised never to leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He wants to free you from painful emotions and heal the wounds of your heart.
If, as a first step, you think it might be helpful to speak with a member of our staff, please contact Focus on the Family's Counseling Department . We can provide you with a list of professionals practicing in your area, and the trained Christian counselors on our staff would be very willing to talk and pray with you on the phone. They're available to speak with you at this number.
No Place to Cry: The Hurt and Healing of Sexual Abuse (book)
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - Provides assistance to the community and raises public awareness to prevent incidents of missing children and sexual abuse.
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) - Provides support, compassion and dignity for victims of crimes and crisis.
Life After Assault League - (920) 739-4489