What happens when rape goes unreported?

Source: 13 November 2017Analysis and Comment, Women

Rape is described as the sexual act that happens to someone without their consent. It is a violation and its crime to humanity. For many rape survivors they get a sense of closure and can move on when they report the matter and the perpetrator gets convicted. I would like to look at the issue of rape from the perspective of those survivors who don’t report the issue because maybe they are scared, or the perpetrator is a relative or a close family friend, or they don’t want to relive the ordeal by talking about it over and over again, or they don’t want the publicity that comes from reporting the matter.

Innocence is not lost but stolen.

When someone is raped especially by someone they know and who they trusted, they don’t see it happening – it happens so fast and so quickly that even after the act is over they can’t believe it. They experience shock, they feel numb so it’s no wonder, so many rape victims try to wash themselves clean, and in so doing destroy the physical evidence. The same evidence that could convict their perpetrator.

They try to deny what has happened to the extent that they forget to take measures to avoid unwanted pregnancy that comes from the act. As a result, they can become pregnant with the rapist’s child. Those who don’t fall pregnant still have to replay the events in their minds especially if their perpetrator is someone who they see regularly. By replaying the events in their minds, they are in actual fact re traumatising themselves.

When rape goes unreported, the survivors never have access to counselling that can play a major part in their healing. In counselling they are given tools and taught coping mechanisms that they can apply day to day, so they can at least try to rebuild their shattered existence. Others find solace and comfort in God and going to church, but I fear if they don’t address the underlying problem then going to church is just a mask – a disguise. It’s a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Any trigger in the future can undo all progress they have achieved.

Unreported rape forces the survivors to become a silent witness to the crime. They have a voice which they don’t use and as a result the perpetrators of the crime think they have gotten away with it and this may result in them committing the same crime again to another unsuspecting victim.

Source: Rhoda Mutasa

Note: if you have experienced sexual violence, please get in touch with the Adult Rape Clinic (ARC) at Ward C9 at Parirenyatwa Hospital or call 04 2918266 / 0775 672770 / 0733 406292