Some Important Statistics
Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes. (Rana Sampson, Acquaintance Rape of College Students, 2002)
1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted or raped. (Rana Sampson, Acquaintance Rape of College Students, 2002)
1 in 5 high school students have experienced rape, but only about 5% report the crime. (Suzanne S. Ageton, Facts About Sexual Assault, 1985)
2 out of 3 of victims know their rapist, and 38% of rapists are close friends or acquaintances of the victim. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, National Crime Victimization Study, 2005)
False reports of rape are incredibly rare. (Suzanne S. Ageton, Facts About Sexual Assault, 1985)
60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police, and 15 out of 16 rapists will never spend a day in jail. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Rape and Sexual Assault: Reporting to Police and Medical Attention 1992-2000, 2002)
8% of men surveyed admitted to an act that would legally be considered rape, but 84% of these men were convinced that the act they committed did not constitute rape. (R. Warsaw, I Never Called it Rape, 1994)
What is Rape?
The FBI defines rape as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Although this definition hasn’t been changed since 1927, the FBI continues its use even though it excludes rape in the case of coercion, intimidation, forced oral or anal sex, male on male rape, rape with an object, statutory rape, or rape when a woman is unable to reasonably give consent due to intoxication. This is not the definition used by most states, and victims should not be deterred from reporting a rape that does not fit within the FBI’s narrow definition.
Rape is defined differently in every state, but generally any non-consensual or forced intercourse is considered rape. This includes rape by coercion, intimidation, rape based off of an actual or perceived fear or threat, and actual force. If a victim is unable to give consent because they are intoxicated or asleep, that is rape as well.
Sexual assault includes forced oral or anal sex and rape by a foreign object. Sexual assault can also by accomplished by the use of coercion and intimidation.
It can be difficult and confusing to identify rape, so here are a few things to keep in mind…
If a person said “no” at any time, even after completing other consensual sexual activities and their partner continues to intimidate or coerce them, that qualifies as sexual assault or rape. Many victims freeze as a result of intimidation or coercion, or do what their assailant asks in order to prevent further harm. This may still be considered rape.
Victims often dissociate during a sexual assault. They feel disconnected from their body as a way to get through the attack, and the shock that follows may prevent them from recognizing or reporting a sexual assault.
Rape does not always happen in extraordinary circumstances, and the assailant may act as if nothing happened.
These circumstances and more can create confusion, and make it difficult for the victim to acknowledge that they were sexually assaulted or raped. Further, if the victim knows the assailant, it may be difficult for the victim to recognize the fact that someone they know could do something so egregious. Even if a victim is confused, however, he or she can report exactly what they remember about an incident to the police or a counselor for help identifying what happened.
Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault
Drugs may be used to help facilitate a sexual assault, working to impair the victim by making him or her feel weak, drowsy and sometimes even incapacitated. When the drugs wear off, victims frequently remember little to nothing about their night or any attack.
While everyone reacts differently, there are certainly signs which could indicate that a person has been drugged. Increased drowsiness, forgetting blocks of time the night before (“blacking out”), feeling far more intoxicated after one or two drinks than usual, or feeling that someone may have sexually assaulted you are all common responses to drug-facilitated sexual assaults.
What to do if you were or may have been drugged
Victims who suspect they have been drugged and assaulted should follow normal procedures for dealing with the sexual assault or rape, specifically preserving any evidence, getting to a hospital or treatment center for an exam as soon as possible, and reporting the incident to the police.
If you believe or know drugs were involved in your assault, request that a urine sample be taken when you go to a treatment center or hospital. Law enforcement crime labs can run the sample for toxicology screens that will reveal any drugs in your system. Many of these drugs are metabolized quickly, making it important to get an exam as soon as possible.
What should you do if you are sexually assaulted or raped?
It is important for everyone to know what to do in the event of sexual assault or rape. It is imperative to report rape and sexual assault as soon as possible, if not immediately.
1. Do not take a shower or destroy any possible evidence.
2. Try not to change your clothes. If you must change, place your clothing in a paper bag to preserve any forensic evidence. A paper bag keeps the evidence dry, whereas plastic bags can collect moisture, compromising the evidence.
3. Go to a rape treatment center or hospital to get a medical examination. Evidence collected during this examination can be key in prosecuting your assailant. Make sure that law enforcement is contacted.
4. Often times signs of rape and sexual assault are not visible, but it is still important that any DNA evidence is collected and that you receive medical attention. Even if you have no visible injury, it is important to seek treatment for any potential STD’s, and any unseen physical or emotional injuries.
5. Get an advocate from the rape treatment center or hospital to walk you through the process of reporting an assault to the police. It is helpful to have an advocate explain the process to you and to ensure that the police file a report.
6. Many rape treatment centers offer counseling beyond the initial visit. This can be a vital part of the healing process and should be strongly considered. You can get free counseling, so the price should not deter any victim from seeking support.
7. If law enforcement has not already been contacted, now is the time to do so.
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