What is Rape? Was I Raped?
Rape is a heinous act performed when one party wishes to exact complete power and control over another. The definition of rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network is:1
". . . forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object."
Threats of violence or weapons may be used during rape but in about 8-out-of-10 cases, nothing but physical force is used. Weapons or threats are not required for an act to be considered rape.
It is important to know that either gender can be the perpetrator or the victim of rape. Additionally, both heterosexual and homosexual rapes take place both inside and outside of relationships. It's critical to understand that rape is never okay and that no matter the circumstance, rape is never the victim's fault.
It's also important to know that sexual activities short of rape performed without consent are also a crime. These crimes are generally known as "sexual assault." Sexual assault is defined as the following, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network:
". . . unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. This includes sexual touching and fondling."
Was I Raped?
Some victims of rape wonder about their specific circumstance and wonder if it constitutes rape. Chances are, if you're wondering, "was I raped?" you probably were. Rape happens any time sexual intercourse takes place without your consent. Note that many circumstances can indicate your lack of consent including:
- An inability to give consent due to age
- An inability to give consent due to diminished capacity (perhaps due to a disability)
- An inability to give consent due to inebriation (typically due to ingesting drugs or alcohol)
And, of course, any time you say, "no" to intercourse and it is forced on you, that is rape. It doesn't matter if you said "no" in the middle of the act, it is still rape if the other party doesn't immediately stop and respect your wishes. You have the right to rescind consent at any time, under any circumstances.
Sometimes it is considered rape even if you do not say, "no" such as in the case where a weapon is used. Sometimes you are too concerned for your life or safety to say, "no." This is still considered rape. Threats against others may also constitute too grave a threat.
It still is considered rape even if:
- You didn't physically fight back
- You used to date or were friends with the perpetrator (read about: What is Date Rape?)
- You are married or engaged to the rapist (read about: Marital Rape)
- You do not remember the rape
- You willingly ingest drugs or alcohol
It is critical to remember that rape can happen to anyone in many situations but it is never the victim's fault – it is always the fault of the rapist.
Last Updated: 26 May 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD