Sex Talk

I was raped. Will I ever be able to have a healthy sexual relationship again?

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng answers your sex questions

17 September 2017 - 00:00
Anxiety symptoms may persist for years after experiencing a sexual assault.
Anxiety symptoms may persist for years after experiencing a sexual assault.
Image: iStock

Q. I was raped. How do I start being sexual again?

A. Rape is considered a medical emergency. Access to medical, social and psychological support should be sought as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.

Victims should quickly be provided with post-exposure prophylaxis for sexually transmitted infections including HIV, emergency contraception options and treatment of injuries.

This should be done in private and the victim should be reassured that what happened was not their fault.

The need for psychological support may not necessarily be obvious in the early days. Often people are in shock and do not think they need help.

Survivors require support and access to social services, including psychological therapy, as soon as possible and for as long as possible after the trauma.

Fear of being alone, fear of strangers and anxiety symptoms may persist years after the assault. The trauma can also affect family members, friends and colleagues.

Sometimes the injuries to victims of rape are not obvious and this leads to mismanagement and suboptimal care as the focus then tends to be on forensics and getting the person to a police station to open a case.

People can and do heal after being raped, and in time get to a point where they are comfortable with having relationships again

People can and do heal after being raped, and in time get to a point where they are comfortable with having relationships again.

Sexual health, wellbeing and pleasure are recognised human rights and all people have a right to live free from coercion, abuse, discrimination and disease.

We require health systems and practitioners who are able to assist people with healthy relationships and guide them through issues such as consent and sexual health.

A person's desire for respect and a fulfilling life must be respected. It is a state duty to ensure all citizens are safe and secure and have access to the services required to heal from a rape.

• Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng (MBChB), sexual and reproductive health practice, DISA Clinic, 011-886-2286, visit safersex.co.za.

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