Also called sexual assault, rape is sexual intercourse or sexual contact through force or without the person’s consent. The person who rapes is called rapist, and at the receiving end is the rape victim. A rape is illegal because the law believes sexual activity between humans should happen only if both the parties involved are in agreement. The consent, under this context, shouldn’t be coerced, based on emotional blackmailing, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And silence isn’t considered consent. Consent is a clear and enthusiastic approval to the proposed sexual act, and the person should be actively involved in the process. Moreover, the consenting person should not be a minor. A minor’s rape with or without consent is also rape, called statutory rape.
Technically speaking, the act that accounts to rape may vary across regions. For instance, in most countries a rape charge is levied only if there is sexual intercourse. But in some countries or regions, touching the person’s vagina or vulva, buttocks, breasts, penis, anus, mouth, testicles, or other body parts (clothed or not) without permission is also equivalent to rape. Making other people touch your private parts without their consent is also rape. Trying to rape a person and quitting mid-way is also a form of rape, since the emotional distress and trauma the victim undergoes isn’t much different from an actual rape victim. A woman is often the rape victim, but men could be sexually harassed or assaulted too. The perpetrators, in this case, can be women or gay men.
A rape can happen under the following circumstances:
- If the victim is asleep or incapacitated – under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- If the victim is injured, ill, or emotionally unstable
- If the victim lacks physical, emotional or intellectual maturity
- If the victim has mental illness or developmental maturity
- If the perpetrator has some level of authority of the person, such as a teacher, police officer or clergyperson
Types of Rape
Rapes could be of various types, and are somewhat deduced from the circumstances mentioned above.
- Stranger rape: As the name suggests, this form of rape involves a person who is completely unknown to the victim.
- Acquaintance rape: This is rape done by an individual known to the victim. Young women and teenagers are usually the targets.
- Gang rape: This form of rape entails two or more people raping a single person.
- Marital rape: Also called spousal rape, marital rape is raping your spouse or forcing him/her into sexual activity.
- Statutory rape: This rape refers to sexual assault on a minor or any person who cannot legally or mentally consent to sexual activity.
- Prison rape: This type of rape entails a prison inmate being raped by another inmate or prison staff.
- Date rape: Similar to acquaintance rape, date rape happens between people who have a romantic relationship, which could have turned sexual in the future.
- Child sexual abuse: This entails an adult raping or sexually assaulting a child.
- Custodial rape: It’s a form of rape committed by an individual holding a custodial or supervisory position.
Victim Feelings or Emotional State
Rape is the violation of one’s sexual, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual feelings. It’s hard to put into words what the victim feels like after the rape. In several cases, all the pain and trauma experienced may stay with the person for a lifetime. There are multiple phases the rape victim goes through.
This period happens immediately post the rape and could last for a few days or many weeks. The person, during this phase, could appear hysterical or agitated, or suffer from anxiety attacks. Some may seem controlled on the outside, sans any emotion, due to a sense of shock. And there are victims who’ll enter disorientation mode, or have trouble making decisions, concentrating, or performing routine tasks. The person may also have issues recalling the horrific incident.
Outward Adjustment Phase
This refers to a phase during which the victim seems normal as before from the outside but is suffering from within. During this phase, the victim wants to forget the incident and refuses to discuss the rape details with anyone. Some behaviors or symptoms synonymous of people in this phase include major mood swings, ongoing anxiety, persistent phobias or fears, rage, depression, sleeping and eating difficulties, etc.
This is the period of recovery wherein the sexual assault is no longer dominating the victim’s emotions and thoughts. Though the person hasn’t forgotten the rape incident, the associated pain or suffering are substantially less. The individual considers the rape as fate and moves on with life. All victims may not enter this phase, and quite a few would take a long time to reach this stage.
Treatment and Help
Reporting the matter to the police is not mandatory. The rape victim can report the incident to help groups or voluntary organizations. In fact, these organizations can arrange for an informal interaction with a police officer.
However, before seeking any kind of legal or emotional assistance, getting medical help is paramount, since the risks of diseases, such as HIV, and unintentional pregnancies can be high. Medical reports such as the forensic exam report may also help with investigating the crime, if that route is taken. The victim mustn’t change or wash clothes right after the sexual assault, as that could destroy forensic evidence.
Medical treatment entails reducing the odds of rape-related pregnancies and diseases. Talk therapies, ongoing emotional support, etc. are also offered to help the victim stay emotionally stable.