Abortion and sexual assault

Is it possible to get pregnant after being sexually assaulted?

Yes! Of course it is.

Sexual assault and rape are very common, and one can get pregnant, even though many people make false claims, such as, ‘It is difficult to get pregnant when one is raped because the body freezes.’  This statement is untrue! Whenever unprotected sex takes place and sperm enters a vagina, it is possible to conceive.

It is often difficult to know what to do after experiencing sexual assault or rape. While one can access Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) in the form of emergency contraception and  Antiretrovirals, many do not access this. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to do first: should I go to the police or access health services?

What to do when you are sexually assaulted or raped

Read the advised steps provided by Rape Crisis below:

Do this as soon as possible. The police can take you to a hospital if you are hurt, or they can call for an ambulance. They can also take you to a forensic unit if you are not hurt but you do not have to go to the police or report the rape if you do not feel comfortable to do so.

The first person you tell about the rape will sometimes be asked to go to court to support your story. This person is called the first contact witness. If this person is a stranger, write down their contact details. This is important if you decide to report the rape, as the police will need to find that person and talk to them as part of the investigation.

You have a right to access free medical treatment at a public health facility. You will be given the option of laying a criminal charge at these centres or any hospital forensic unit that see rape cases, but you will still receive medical attention even if you do not wish to lay a charge.

It is best to take medicine to prevent HIV infection as soon as possible, with three days being the latest you can still go. They will test you, and if you are HIV negative, the hospital or clinic will give you antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to prevent HIV infection. The ARVs form part of a group of medicines called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

You may not feel like making this decision soon after the rape. The police can be called to the hospital if you want to report what has happened to you. The police can also take you to a hospital if you are hurt, or they can call for an ambulance. Even if you are not sure whether you wish to lay a charge, it is better to have the forensic examination done, so that the doctor can gather physical evidence for you if you decide to lay a charge later.

For more information and other guides– please check local groups like People Opposing Women Abuse or Rape Crisis.

Having an abortion after rape

When having an abortion following rape, the health provider will take a sample of the contents of your womb for forensic lab testing. They can also assign a detective to work on your case.

When having your abortion, let your provider know if you are feeling anxious or triggered, and they can offer you a tranquiliser to address your trauma and anxiety. Having an abortion is an invasive procedure and could remind you of the assault, so it is important to prepare and be covered with good pain relief.