Any act in which a person is coerced to engage in sexual activity against their will is rape. It violates a victim’s rights, for it occurs without their consent making it a serious crime.
Rape is a traumatic experience that leaves survivors enduring physical, emotional, and mental effects. The physical effects include injuries and bruises, especially on the genital organs. The victim stands a high chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and or getting an unwanted pregnancy, for the case of women. Mental and emotional effects also manifest as post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders. The victim also feels a loss of trust and guilt, for it shatters their sense of self-worth.
Rape victims need to report their cases, for it is a way of seeking justice. Unfortunately, many victims choose not to report these cases of assault due to various reasons. Self-blame is one of the fundamental reasons that leave the victim feeling that they may have provoked the assault. For instance, the victim may think that they would have prevented the act from occurring if they did not attend a particular party, dressed in a certain manner or trusted the perpetrator in one way or another. This self-blame may be overwhelming, making it difficult for a victim to report their incident.
Victims may be fearful of the consequences that come with reporting the assault. A victim may be worried that nobody will believe them but instead they will be blamed for what happened if they reported the assault. In most known cases, the attackers often threaten their victims with death, should they try speaking or mentioning it to anyone, let alone reporting the matter to the police.
When it comes to minors, they may fail to report that they have been defiled due to the absence of a supportive parent or guardian. A child may feel alone, powerless, and scared, for they lack understanding of the incident and do not know who to turn to. The absence of a safe space in the domestic setting makes it difficult for a child to open up about the abuse, hence it is not reported.
It is important to remind rape victims that it is not their fault but the perpetrator’s. Providing services such as hotlines and counselling services is important, for it will encourage rape victims to report to the authorities. It is also important to provide support that can help victims heal and recover from the trauma of rape.