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Rape and Date Rape

What is rape?

Rape is a felony offense in which a person (man, woman, or child) is forced to engage in sexual relations (vaginal, anal, or oral) against his or her will or without having given consent. Often an attacker will use physical force in committing rape; however, rape also occurs when someone uses threats of violence or emotional force or manipulation to engage an individual in sex.

If the victim is drunk or high from alcohol or drugs, he or she is not able to legally give consent. In addition, persons who are physically or mentally disabled, or who are under a certain age relative to the perpetrator, are deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex.

What is date rape?

Date rape is a felony offense in which a person is forced to engage in sexual relations with someone that the victim knows, agreed to spend time with, or has a relationship with. Agreeing to a date or even a physical relationship is not the same as consenting to sexual relations.

One out of seven women has experienced forcible rape sometime in her lifetime.

What are the effects of rape?

There are significant negative effects of rape, some obvious, some less so. Common effects include:

  • Broken bones, bruises, cuts
  • Injuries to genitals/anus
  • Internal injuries
  • Exposure to diseases, including herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HPV, and HIV
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep
  • Anger
  • Embarrassment/shame/guilt
  • Feelings of being damaged or worthless
  • Fear of reprisal (retaliation, or payback)
  • Depression
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Relationship difficulties

What should I do if I have been raped?

  • Please remember that the assault was not your fault.
  • If you are not already in a safe place, find one as quickly as possible.
  • If you are unable to get somewhere safe, call 911.
  • If you are afraid to call the police, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1.800.656.4673) at any time of day or night.
  • Go to the nearest emergency department. You can have a medical examination to check for injuries, and receive treatment for possible sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy prevention. A medical examination will also collect potential evidence to be used later in court, if needed. Evidence should be collected as soon as possible (within 96 hours).
  • It’s possible that your clothing will be collected at the hospital as evidence. It may be helpful to bring a change of clothing with you.
  • If you are considering pressing charges, try to preserve any potential evidence for law enforcement. Do not shower or douche, as this could wash away evidence that could be used against your attacker in court.
  • Even if you do not wish to press charges, it is important to go to the emergency room for treatment.

How can I protect myself against rape?

  • Stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings and do not walk alone at night. Ask for a security escort to your car at night.
  • Be secure. Lock the doors and windows to your home and car. If people constantly prop open the main door to a dorm room or apartment, tell security.
  • Make others earn your trust. If a person seems threatening to you, do not continue to interact with that person.
  • Make a plan. If you’re going to a party, go with people you trust. Agree to watch out for each other and plan to leave together. If your plans change, make sure to touch base with the other people in your group.
  • Protect your drink. Don’t leave your drink unattended. If you go to the bathroom or step outside, take the drink with you or toss it out.
  • Know your limits. Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had. Up to 75% of men and 55% of women involved in a date rape were drinking or using drugs before the assault.
  • It’s okay to lie. If you want to leave a situation immediately and you’re worried about frightening or upsetting someone, it’s okay to lie. You never have to remain in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, pressured, or threatened.
  • Know what resources are available. Locate resources such as the police station and a local sexual assault service provider.

Will I ever feel well again?

Rape can leave both physical and emotional scars. Many rape survivors feel like the rape is their fault. Rape is never the victim’s fault, but feelings of guilt can prevent someone from getting help.

Sometimes the emotional effects of rape occur weeks or months later. Counseling can help one deal with the emotional symptoms (guilt, fear, depression, anxiety) of having endured a traumatic event. In addition, many survivors of rape find help through support groups.

It is important to get counseling for yourself as soon as possible to avoid serious emotional complications, even if you choose not to press charges against your attacker.

Where can I get help?

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1.800.656.4673) at any time of day or night.

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 1/13/2016...#4538