What Is Rape?
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According to the Texas Penal Code, Rape is said to be a sexual assault "if that person causes the penetration of the anus, vagina, or mouth of another person with a sexual organ or object, without that person's consent OR causes another person to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus or sexual organ of another person without their consent."

Rape is an all-American crime. It is the ultimate merging of sex and violence. A rapist can be anyone. Rapists can be professional men with power. They can be men of high position, good standing in their church and in their community. They may be strangers but more often they are people known and trusted. Although, rare, rapists can be women. The fact is, male rapists both hate and fear women. They are incapable of having equal relationships with women. Rapists do not like themselves very much. They chose the crime of rape as a way to satisfy their need to dominate. Rapists hold the Rape is an all-American crime. It is the ultimate merging of sex and violence. A rapist can be anyone. Rapists can be professional men with power. They can be men of high position, good standing in their church and in their community. They may be strangers but more often they are people known and trusted. Although, rare, rapists can be women. The fact is, male rapists both hate and fear women. They are incapable of having equal relationships with women. Rapists do not like themselves very much. They chose the crime of rape as a way to satisfy their need to dominate. Rapists hold the belief that real men can do anything they want with women. They believe “no” means “yes.”

Rape has little to do with sex. Sex is a weapon a rapist uses to degrade and humiliate victims in order to feel powerful and masterful over another person. Every hour 78 womenare forcibly raped in the United States. During each year women were the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, including approximately 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults. In 29 percent of the violent crimes against women by lone offenders the perpetrators were intimates--husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.

Who Does Rape Happen To?

Rape can happen to ANYONE! Rape victims have included women and men of all ages, ethnic groups, and income groups. So, no matter who you are or where you live, rape CAN happen to you!

Five Main Tasks That Need to be Accomplished To Heal

Step 1 of Healing- Impact of Rape

You are hurting, you are angry or depressed. Your life is caving in around you and your relationships are not the same as before the rape. Perhaps you can’t get close to those you love the most, like you use to. Maybe you feel that you’re not a good person anymore. Perhaps you believe that everyone who sees you knows that you were raped. The worst thing though, is that you think you may be crazy because the rape happened a few weeks ago, maybe a couple of months or even years ago and you think you should be “over it” by now.

The first thing to understand is that these feelings are normal. When you experience a rape, your thoughts are on how to survive. No one consents to rape. No one willingly cooperates with a rapist, and yet, to survive, you must submit to save your own life. The feeling that remains is guilt. You feel guilty that you didn’t fight or struggle more. You feel badly because maybe you were “looking too good.” You think that if you had not gone to the store alone, or so late at night...or if you had locked your window, this would not have happened.

The truth is that you had nothing to do with the rape. You are not special in that way. Rape is a crime mostly of opportunity, and the person who raped you knows that. In fact, most rapists take the time to get to know the victims and to gain their confidence. They do that because it makes it easier to commit the crime.

The first step is to acknowledge and identify how the assault has affected your life. Your reactions are unique to you as an individual. In every case, what you did to survive is the right thing to have done. It was not your fault. It is important to know that the motivation of the rapist remains the same (power and control) whether the victim is man or woman or even adult or child. Whatever the circumstances of your rape, it was not your fault because you had no real choice.

You will not forget what happened. Your rage will never completely go away. It takes courage to heal- to look at what happened, and to relive it in the telling of the experience. You CAN heal. You CAN put the rape in perspective so that this experience does not have power over you. It is important for you to remember that you don’t have to go through this alone.

During the first phase of healing, rape leaves the survivor emotionally disorganized. The survivor finds it difficult to make decisions. Survivors are often afraid to be alone and yet crowds make them nervous. The overriding emotion is fear.

Sleep becomes elusive. If you are able to fall asleep, it is only a light sleep that can be interrupted by the smallest sound. Thoughts that can’t be diverted, repressed or turned off, haunt your waking hours.

Rape humiliates. The most precious and private parts of your body has been violated Many survivors bathe repeatedly, trying the only way they know to cleanse themselves. When it doesn’t work, the anger rises because you feel powerless to help yourself. The anger may turn inward and translated into guilt.

The second phase looks and feels as if you are making a good adjustment. You go back to work, you resume your life as a lover, parent and partner. You try to get back to “normal.” Typically, however, things begin to go wrong. Your self confidence begins to lag. Things that you felt positive about before come into question. You become unsure of yourself.

Your energy level begins to drop and you feel tired and want to sleep. Your ability to trust anyone or anything begins to vanish, and anger lurks just below the surface. The dark cloud of depression grows. Because the struggle to put the rape behind you is successful, you do not relate the rape to the changes in your behavior.

Questions to ask yourself: Do you doubt your own abilities? In what ways?

Are your relationships as warm and open as you want them to be? If not, how have they changed?

Are you as good a partner, parent, student. lover, worker as you use to be? If not, how are you different?

Step 2 of Healing- Getting Ready To Heal

Who can you tell, and where can you get support you so desperately need? There are several options The best is to get in touch with a rape crisis center. The big fear you have- that no one will believe you- will come to an end. Rape crisis centers are places where people believe survivors. They exist to support, counsel, and advocate for you. You are normal. Sexual abuse or assault happens to one in four girls before their eighteenth birthday and one in six boys. If a rape crisis center is not available to you, then you must concentrate on who you can trust to give the comfort you need as you tell your story. Some counseling centers, mental health professionals, as well as some clergy have received special training to deal with survivors of rape. Begin by listing those people in your life that have a need to know. If your school work is suffering or your job is on the line, perhaps the school counselor or your boss need to know. Look for areas where telling a trusted person will alleviate some stresses.

Medical people need to know. There is no way that you are responsible for what happened to you. However, you are responsible for healing. You need protection from diseases and pregnancy, The police can keep you safe; they can investigate and issue warrants for the rapist’s arrest. Calling to report a rape to the police must be your decision. While society might be better served if every survivor reported rape to the police, this is sometimes, and for some people not a good idea. The decision is completely your own. You will need to create a network if people you can talk with as you begin to tell your story. If possible, choose several on this list because as you begin the active part of healing, you will need support at different times and not everyone is available at all times.

After you have decided who needs to know and who you want to know, the next step is deciding when and how to tell them. You will need to choose a time when neither you nor they will be distracted. While none of us can predict how another person will react to the news, most will move quickly through their own trauma over the rape and be there to support and care for you.

Before you continue on, make a list of those people:

Who you can tell.

Who needs to know

Who you want to know

Decide on the right time to tell them

Step 3 - Feeling The Pain

The most important part of healing is to tell your story. To do that you need knowledge and information about rape. Having the knowledge will help you separate fact from fiction, and assist you in healing.

For some survivors there seems to be no one they can trust to tell about the rape. You may feel isolated and ashamed of what happened and feel you can never tell anyone about this experience. You think friends, partners, parents or authorities will not believe you. Maybe the rapist is your boss or someone with whom you go to school to. Who will believe you? After all, you think, it’s your word against your rapist’s. You must reach out and trust someone despite the risks.

As long as you keep a bad secret your life becomes contaminated by that secret. You cannot be completely free with others because you must always be on guard not to let the secret out. Without feedback of others, your worst fears can grow bigger and become distorted. The fact is that unless you find someway to express what you are thinking and feeling, you stay trapped in the muck created by someone else’s criminal behavior.

Telling the story of what happened to you can be done in many ways. You may choose to see a rape counselor at a rape crisis center or at a group for survivors. You may choose a friend or relative to hear you as you begin to share the pain of the rape. Perhaps you cannot identify anyone right now that you want to hear your painful experience. If that is the case, then you can put the pain into words on paper by writing the story. Any of these ways will be helpful in healing. The point is to express it.


What triggers the fear? Does it seem to be present all the time? Are there special situations or places where it becomes apparent? In telling the story, your fear will return. There are several ways of dealing with it. First, you can perform a reality test. This means checking out what frightens you. If you hear noises in the house or work place that alarm you, investigate the noise to reassure yourself that you are safe. The second thing to do is to make a list of what frightens you. On the back of the list, make a corresponding list of what to do when you feel that particular fear. For example, if the ringing of the doorbell or rap on the door produces fear, then you might want to call a neighbor or friend on the phone and ask them to hold on while you answer the door.

Conventional wisdom recommends that you face the thing that frightens you. One woman who was raped in the park, in an act of defiance, went back to the park alone at midnight. Both her goals were important but there are smarter and safer ways to accomplish those goals. So, in choosing what you can do to feel safe in a particular situation, be smart. Do not create a further risk for yourself.

Flashbacks & Nightmares

As you begin to relive the rape, flashbacks and nightmares are likely to appear. While you are re-experiencing the rape in some form, you can ground yourself in the here and now. That is, you can tell yourself that you are safe. Often dreams are a way you are trying to work out something in your life. Just as you can control the fear brought on by flashbacks by grounding yourself in the here and now, you can take control of the end of the dream.


All of your emotions work for you and depression is no different. It slows you down, it gives you time to think. What are the unique messages in your depression? Survivors of rape find issues of guilt, “why me?” shame, embarrassment nd stupidity make up most of the depression.

This may be the time when you can look more objectively at the facts of the rape, and what many women are taught to believe about their responsibility for sexual contact.

One reason for the guilt is that the rapist may have told you that you really wanted him to rape you, that you secretly desired it. Considering what is known about a rapist’s need to dominate and humiliate, can you begin to see how he/she shifted the responsibility to you? Can you see how he/she justified and rationalized his/her own actions by blaming you?

Another reason for guilt comes out of your inability to stop it from happening. “I should have, or I ought to have, or I wish I had...”

Do you wonder? Do you believe it was because of something you did or said? Do you believe that it is punishment for some bad behavior in your past of which you are ashamed?

It is natural to look at the rape and search for your own responsibility for it. It is what you’ve been taught to do in all areas of your life. The difference here is that the rapist gave you no choice.

Try answering there questions:

Do I have the right to refuse to have sex with someone?

Is someone infringing on my rights when that person forces me to have sex?

Do I need to feel shame If I really did not have a choice?

Is it reasonable to feel guilty for being the victim of an attack?


Rape is the ultimate violation of the self, short of murder. The effects are in some ways unique because of the self-blame. The embarrassment of having it happen combined with the feelings of shame and stupidity give rise to questions as to whether there are basic human rights at all.

Now that you know that the rape wasn’t your fault- it was his/her fault and what he/she did was to violate your human rights, anger and rage bloom full.

Anger handled wisely produces change. That is why people are afraid of it. The resolution of anger means challenge, change, and becoming someone different.

Ways of Dealing With Anger

Make a list of your fears

After each fear, write down how you are going to handle it

Give expression to your anger by working clay, drawing pictures of it, writing about it, etc.

List you reasons for and against reporting/bringing charges against the rapist

Step 4 - New Decisions

Take the time you need to be with the pain of the loss of innocence. There are people who will hurt, take from you, and try to destroy your will and spirit and you know it. There are many more who will respect your right to your own body, who will support and protect you.. Spend time with people who support your healing process.

Step 5 - A New Life- Letting Go

Rape victims must let go and all take this step in their own time. No one can tell you when it is your time, but as part of your commitment to healing, it is a necessary step. Sometimes this is hardest step to take. Letting go of the rape means you go on with your life in healthy manner. Holding on to the pain, the anger, and the depression puts limits on your potential growth. The rape keeps you prisoner. Letting go of the pain restores you and enables you to reclaim your personal power. Rape survivors would not be human if they did not feel hate. But it is an emotion that survivors cannot afford to keep for long. Eventually hate needs healing because it hurts you and it makes you sick.

What Letting Go is Not Forgetting.

Making the decision for a good life does not mean that you must forget what happened. Even though you’ve made a new life, and you’ve taken this crisis as an opportunity to grow, you will always regret the rape itself so letting go is not forgetting what happened.

How To Let Go

Letting go happens slowly. It is a process that rarely goes on any schedule. It is unreasonable to expect yourself not to have anger and resentment for the painful wrong that was done to you.

What if You Know Someone Who's a Victim of Rape?

Rape is a terrible experience for the victim (and for her/his friends and family, too). If you know a rape victim, you may notice she/he seems to act differently for a while--withdrawn, afraid or unsure. You yourself may feel hurt, angry or upset.

Facts About Rape

75% of reported assaults are being committed by someone known to the victim.

In 85% of reported child sexual abuse cases, the abuser is someone known to the child, most often a family member.

More than 50% of rapes occur in the victim’s home.

Reports of adult men being sexually assaulted are increasing.

Some experts estimate that 1 in every 20 women have been sexually assaulted by her father.

80% of women who work report at least one incident of sexual harrassment.

Some Myths about Rape

If he bought dinner she "owes" him sex. Fact: No one "owes" sex for anything.

If a woman/man doesn't fight against her attack it isn't really rape. Fact: Any sex act forced against another person is rape. It doesn't matter if the victim was able to fight back or not.

Husbands can't rape their wives. It's her duty. Fact: Many battered women have also been victims of rape by their husbands.

Women cry rape because they had sex and changed their minds. Fact: Rape is the most underreported crime in the country. Only 16% are ever reported to the police.

If it is really rape then the victim will report it immediately. Fact: Most cases are reported soon afterwards. However; a full 25% percent are reported more than 24 hours after the rape occurred.

Rape only happens to women. Fact: Men, and children are also victims of rape.

Do I Have to Be Afraid of Being Attacked All The Time?

No, but you do have to be realistic. Many rapists look for victims who are "easy marks". That means that they look for women and men who are not careful about avoiding dangerous situations. Since other people will not always be around to prevent a rapist from attacking you, you have to learn to protect yourself!


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