2017 was a year filled with such horrific headlines, worldwide, the media was awash with reports of transphobic attacks and deaths. According to statistics sexual assault and rape occur frequently in the Trans-diverse community, added social pressures and difficulties reaching healthcare, counselling and the failing justice system has adverse effects on the wellbeing of individuals.
Sexual violence is prevalent in our community, that is why it is crucial for Trans people to also speak out and join campaigns such as the me too hashtag which was created to pay attention to how extensive sexual harassment is against women.
It is also important for us to know, identify and empower each other to report sexual assault. Sexual assault is is any type of sexual contact that occurs without your consent. Including forced sex, touching,groping and attempted rape.
When we speak of rape which is a crime punishable by law ,we are referring to a case where someone forces you to have intercourse or oral sex with them. It can be penetrative sex with genitals or any other body part or object into the vagina, mouth or anus.
While we encourage people to report, it is also important for us in our networks or our friends and family to provide support to survivors in dealing with such traumatic experiences.
Below are a few tips on what to do if you have been exposed to rape
Firstly report to anyone in a circle of trust as a witness if further investigation will occur, report to the police immediately while seeking medical treatment to prevent STI’s and HIV within 72 Hours of the rape.
- Pregnancy testing/ prevention. Including safe medical options to terminate pregnancy (Abortion).
- HIV testing/ prevention. Including pre-post-test counselling if positive you will receive appropriate counselling and ARV medication.
- Hepatitis B prevention. You will be given a vaccination (injection) within 3 weeks of sexual assault.
- Sexually transmitted infection prevention.
Reporting to a healthcare facility is important to preserve evidence of the sexual offence if available. Try not to wash, shower or change items of clothing before reporting to the hospital or clinic. If the person(s) whom assaulted you made any contact with your mouth try not to smoke, rinse, brush teeth or eat/drink anything as there may be evidence to collect. Healthcare workers will need to do a medical/physical examination, please be aware of your human rights and the need for sensitivity.
It is your human right to receive CONFIDENTIAL, equal medical treatment and legal support as a Trans- diverse person.
Let us discuss the importance of seeking psychological assistance after such an encounter. It has been observed with clinical studies that almost all rape survivors suffer from severe and long lasting emotional trauma. Which leaves survivors with vivid flashbacks and many questions as to why.
It can halt emotional healing as mentioned below rape is not asked for, Rape is sudden and It is perceived as a life threatening experience. It is aggressive and the purpose is to execute dominance to further violate the physical integrity and/or render the person helpless. The survivor cannot prevent the assault or assailant from acting out his/her plans of violation.
Rape has many myths & stigma surrounding it
- ‘Corrective’ rape being able to change gender or sexuality.
- Raping new born babies can cure HIV/AIDS.
- Raping Albino people can lead to medical or spiritual healing
Rape cannot cause changes in sexuality or gender. Rape cannot heal anything, it is akin to murder, rape causes lifelong damage to the survivor.
Let us provide support to our siblings dealing with the trauma of this evil. Let us all stand together in solidarity to end this rape culture, shame, blame and report rapists.RAPISTS BE WARNED, TRANSGENDER PEOPLE DON’T NEED CORRECTING!
TIPS FOR RECOVERING RAPE TRAUMA
- Surround yourself with people who love and support you
- Know that you did not deserve anything that happened to you
- Seek professional support , talk about your emotions
- Be gentle with yourself and take back your life