Hesperian Health Guides


Forced sex, sex that is not wanted or agreed to, is rape. Women or girls may be raped by strangers but most often it is by people they know, including family members, their husbands or boyfriends. Men and boys are also raped. For more on rape, see chapter 18 in Where Women Have No Doctor.

A person who has been raped will need first aid for any physical injuries. Emotional support and care is also very important. Treat people who have been raped with kindness and understanding, do not blame them.

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Rape can cause pregnancy. Emergency contraceptive pills or the right dose of some types of birth control pills can prevent pregnancy if taken within 5 days of sex. Rape can also spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Health workers can provide medicines that treat STIs and prevent HIV after rape.

Someone who was raped may find it difficult for you to see or touch their body, so explain what you will be doing as you begin each step of your examination or treatment. Ask for permission each time before touching.

If the anus or genitals have tears, cuts, or bruises, these will be painful. Give paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen. If there is a lot of bleeding in the anus or vagina, show how to use pressure to stop it, in case bleeding starts again later.

For small cuts and tears, soak in warm water 3 times a day. Pouring water over the genitals while passing urine may help reduce discomfort. Larger cuts or tears may need to be sutured.

a clinic report that includes a drawing of a person's body with injuries marked.
Mark down all the injuries that you find and, if you have permission, take photographs. These can help you see how injuries are healing when you follow up. They can also be used as proof that violence or a crime took place.

Look for injuries to other areas of the body as well, and see other parts of this chapter to treat specific problems. A record of the physical exam and any injuries is necessary if the case is reported to the police, even if a decision to go to the police is not made until much later.

Follow up with the person after a few days to see how they are doing emotionally and physically. Check cuts or tears for signs of infection. Bladder infections are especially common for women after forced or violent sex. Pain or a burning sensation while passing urine, and feeling like you need to pass urine very often, are common signs of bladder infection.

This page was updated:05 Feb 2020