What to do after Rape
Seek for help of a person you trust or call a women’s emergency hotline.
Fetz Frauenberatungs- und Therapiezentrum
Phone: 0711 / 2859002
- Should I report to the police?
- What can I do concerning medical care and trace evidence?
- How does a report work?
- What happens at a later stage of the proceedings?
- What can relatives do to help the victim?
- Where can I get more information?
Should I report to the Police?
The decision for or against a report is extremely difficult for many rape victims. On the one hand they want justice, punishment for the perpetrator and prevent more rapes, but on the other hand one has to take into consideration the psychological burdens of legal proceedings. It can be helpful to contact the Fetz or any other women’s emergency hotline in order to find the right response. Of course, it is also possible to have recourse to an initial telephone consultation of a lawyer.
The step to take action should be thoroughly considered. Rape is an offence requiring public prosecution. Hence, the action cannot be taken back. The investigating authorities are obliged to intervene as soon as they have been notified.
Action does not necessarily have to take place right after the rape, since the statute of limitation for rape is 20 years. Nevertheless, reasoning will be better, the sooner you present your case.
What can I do in terms of Health Care and Trace Evidence?
- Keep underwear and clothes and any other evidence (tampons, pantyliners, handkerchiefs etc.) you wore at the time of the rape. All these items can carry trace material.
- Even though a medical/gynecological examination constitutes a psychic burden for women or girls concerned, it is of great relevance. Possible injuries and traces can be detected and treated right away. You can turn for help either to the outpatients’ department of a hospital or to a physician you trust. Don’t shower or bathe prior to such an examination, since you will destroy valuable evidence.
- Even after the examination a victim can still decide whether to take action or not. Especially if a woman should decide to take action later, the medical examination can be an extremely useful piece of evidence. If it is to serve as perpetuating evidence, you should provide the physician with detailed information about the circumstances of the rape in order to enable her to preserve the necessary traces.
- All injuries, even the seemingly less important ones should be recorded.
- The latest possible moment to take the “morning after pill” lies between 48 and 72 hours, depending on the medical compound. The “morning after IUD” (intrauterine device) can be placed up to 5 days after rape.
Regardless of whether you decide to take action or not, collect and secure Evidence and seek medical/gynecological Treatment in time.
How does an Action work?
- You will have to furnish short and precise (hard evidence) information to the Constabulary (policewomen in patrol cars) who come upon your call. You can later furnish detailed information to the special department for sexual acts of violence of the criminal police. You are entitled to ask for a female officer for the interrogation. In case you are honestly blaming yourself for an offence (i.e. if you were driving under the influence of alcohol) it is better to seek legal advice prior to taking action.
- Ask a person you trust to accompany you to the police and/or physician (girlfriend, employee of the emergency hotline).
- Read the record of interrogation at the police station carefully and sign it only if it is 100% correct.
What happens at a later Stage of the Proceedings?
- It is important to have a legal representative in an action against the perpetrator. You don’t have to worry about the costs. In case of rape and sexual assault, upon request the court will appoint a lawyer for your defense (including preliminary proceedings).The costs of legal assistance or incidental action will be carried by the State Treasury.
- File an application for compensation of victims with the Versorgungsamt (Office for Social Affairs). Victims of rape and sexual assault are entitled to different types of compensation if they suffered psychological and/or physical as well as economic damage. Basis for any compensation of the OEG (Opferentschädigungsgesetz – Law on the Compensation of Victims) is the victim’s active help to solve the crime. It is advisable to seek legal assistance or support of a women’s emergency hotline in order to deal with your violence experience either from Fetz Stuttgart, phone number 0711 / 2858002 or any other local women’s emergency hotline.
- If time allows, Fetz or other local emergency hotlines can appoint someone to accompany you to the proceedings. (We recommend that you make such a request in good time)
- You can also turn to other organizations for victim assistance, eg. Weißer Ring.
What can Relatives do to help a Victim?
If you want to help a friend or a relative who has been raped
The reactions of the social environment and of persons of trust have great influence on how the victim can overcome sexual assault. For this reason, we list a few details that may help you to deal with the situation. It is of utmost importance to talk and to overcome the feeling of loneliness.
- Disbelief or assignment of (joint) guilt can cause additional stress. It is therefore decisive to listen to the victim in an unbiased manner.
- Nobody should do anything without the victim’s consent. Especially legal steps should be discussed with her carefully and in detail.
- Sexual assaults disregard the individual’s self-determination and the capacity to keep herself and her body under control. Hence, it is essential to respect the victim’s decision. That is the only way of restoring a feeling of control.
- Seek support should you have feelings of anger, helplessness or grief. You can give better support if you respect your own limitations.
Where can I get further Information?
Visit the homepage of our Bundesnetzwerk (federal network). There you will find autonomous women’s emergency hotlines under www.frauen-gegen-gewalt.de and can get additional information concerning sexual violence, the legal situation and the services offered by women’s advice services.