[Content warning: rape.]

Rape victims: This is an important time in your life. With so many details to attend to, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re not missing out.

  • If you report, remember to make it to the hospital immediately for a rape kit that will never be tested in the backlog of thousands. If you’re injured, drive carefully. If you’re drunk or have been drugged, ask a friend for a lift, assuming the friend isn’t the person who raped you.

  • After the rape kit, find and speak to a police officer. Give explicit and precise recollections, including reporting work and background checks on your rapist. Make sure everything has been cross-checked, with no room for error; the person who violated you has a reputation to maintain. (If your rapist is a police officer, find a different police officer. They treat the law as paramount, those cops who don’t rape, with no concern for personal affiliations; you will be fairly heard.)

  • If there’s video evidence, submit it. It won’t count against your rapists – nothing can – but it will be the only thing that answers the question of whether or not you were really raped.

  • (This will be a question for a long time, as if you’ve upended the laws of physics by suggesting it’s possible, as if rape isn’t the case for nearly 20% of women, a number that seems low until you’re in a room with four other women and think, oh shit, or sitting around a dinner table with four other women and think, oh shit, or looking at a lineup of women on the Bible channel, late at night when you can’t sleep because you can’t sleep well since your rape and they’re talking about the sanctity of life and how abortion is a sin, and you think how relieved you are that your rapist didn’t get you pregnant, and then you think, there are five women on this panel; oh shit. Don’t worry about this now; there’s plenty of time for it later. For now, settle the question. Prove, somehow, you were raped. Don’t look for the rape kit, that’s long gone.)

  • Are you sure? Did you really? Is there proof?

  • If your rapist is rich or powerful or too famous to be held responsible, or if your rapist is related to you and the police decide it’s a family affair, your checklist is over. The video will get out, so people can decide how drunk you were, and what you were wearing. There will be flares of indignation. They won’t last. People will decide it’s cruel of you to risk the reputation of such promising young men by being so careless as to get raped.

  • If the story goes public, prepare for a journalist to ask you questions about the rape, enough to make a story from. They might manipulate your story, but that’s what journalists do, sometimes; if you feel out of control, that’s no different than how it’s felt since it happened to you. Laws of physics.

  • Are you sure? Did you really? Is there proof?

  • Be prepared when your career suffers, and your reputation suffers. It’s considered bad form in the workplace to be a rape victim; that reminds them them rape exists.

  • When people assure you it’s not your fault, if you have people to assure you it’s not your fault, choose from one of two options:
    – Ignore them and think that it is;
    – Believe them, and know the world is made up of rocks that are heavier than you are, and there’s nothing you can do.

  • Take a defense class, if you’re up for it. You’ve heard it helps rape victims. Go through the motions of breaking a choke hold and jamming the heel of your hand into his nose. Watch the instructor sweep the legs out from under the attacker so he loses his balance and falls. Watch it over and over and then practice it – sometimes doing the tripping, sometimes doing the falling. It feels more than it looks, that sudden loss of the ground and then everything wrong.

  • Are you sure? Did you really? Is there proof?

  • Please be advised: If there are “discrepancies” in your account, the magazine will point to you and sidle quietly out of the way. Universities that had been on the verge of having to look at the rapes on their campuses will breathe a sigh of relief. It’s so much easier to call one woman a liar and be done with it. No rapes can even happen at Duke any more. They only ever need to discredit one.

  • If you are a college student dealing with rape, and Rolling Stone hasn’t asked you for an interview, consider carrying the scene of the crime to class after that, to prove you were raped enough to make a fuss; prepare to be disciplined for the disruption.

  • Optional: Wish you had the entire violent assault on your unwilling body caught on video, so that no matter what they called you – slut, or stupid, or “it”, as someone reached for your leg – “unraped” couldn’t be one.

  • If you choose to keep silent, prepare an answer for the question you’ll hear, over and over: Why didn’t you ever speak out?

  • [Sexual assault hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673 Anonymous online chat: https://ohl.rainn.org/online/] UPDATE: RAINN released this statement after the article was released. If you do not feel safe contacting them, there is a partial list of other resources on the national and local level available here.