During a recent interview with Howard Stern, Madonna shared that shortly after she moved to New York City, she was raped. She told Stern that she never went to police or reported the incident. “I was told that if I wanted to press charges, that I would need a physical examination, I would have to go before the court, and they’re going to ask you all these personal questions,” she explained of her choice. “You’ve already been violated … it’s just not worth it. It’s too humiliating.”
Many women who are victims of sexual assault make the same decision Madonna did, and some don’t even seek medical attention — perhaps out of fear, because they have misconceptions about what would ensue after reporting the sexual assault, or because they don’t want to relive the experience.
That’s why I want all women to know that if you are a victim of rape, you don’t need to recall the details of your sexual assault in order to be treated by a medical professional. The only two questions a doctor should ask is, “Did the person use a condom?” and “What orifices were penetrated?”
That’s exactly what I asked when I consulted on a violent rape of a young woman who had been dragged into Central Park in New York and beaten within a minute of her life in the course of being sexually assaulted. As the gynecologist on call, I was asked to perform a rape-kit on her and address her GYN trauma. What struck me about the magnitude of severity of this particular attack was not just the physical trauma, but the emotional devastation as well.
With Madonna making headlines, and numerous stories about sexual assault on campuses shedding light on what is still a national epidemic, I think it’s important for EVERYONE to have a "rape" plan. Just as you have an emergency plan in case of a fire or earthquake, you need a plan for what to do in case you are ever sexually assaulted.
Here are five things you need to know:
Something to keep in mind is that most women are raped by someone they know. A great tool that could help save your life is Robin McGraw’s Aspire News App. While it appears to be a news app, it can be used to secretly alert chosen contacts about a potentially violent situation.
Knowing that rape is not your fault and that you WILL recover is easier said than done. My thoughts and prayers are with anyone who has ever been hurt, abused, attacked, assaulted or raped. Please know that your strength and courage is admired.
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, these resources may be able to offer help: