The impact of rape is very debilitating on victims and also the community. Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent.
The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against a person who is incapable of giving valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, has an intellectual disability or is below the legal age of consent.
- Over 70% of rapes are committed by someone with whom the victim is acquainted.
- 40% of victims have known their attacker less than 24 hours.
- 9 out of 10 rapes are never reported, allowing a rapist to rape again.
- In at least 76% of the cases, the rape survivor will be of the same race and class as their attackers.
- Rape is a crime of power, an attempt to hurt and humiliate. It is not “uncontrollable passion.”
- Rape can happen to anyone, from small children to grandparents, males and females.
- Rape can occur in public or your own home, day or night.
- Many rapists target people they feel will not tell, such as children or teens that may have mistakenly placed themselves in a risky situation such as using alcohol or drugs.
Impact of Rape
The effects of rape can be physical and psychological. Many perpetrators of sexual abuse are in a position of trust or responsible for the child’s care, such as a family member, teacher, clergy member, or coach.
Generally, rape victims are likely to suffer:
- Self harm– Deliberate self-harm, or self-injury, is when a person inflicts physical harm on himself or herself, usually in secret.
- Sexual transferred infection– A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a bacterial or viral infection passed from one person to another through vaginal, anal, or oral contact.
- Substance Abuse– If you are concerned that you’re using substances in a way that could be harmful to your health or have concerns for someone you care about, consider learning more about the warning signs and places to find support.
- Dissociation– Dissociation is one of the many defense mechanisms the brain can use to cope with the trauma of sexual violence.
- Panic Attack– A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense fear and anxiety that happens in situations when there may be no immediate danger. They tend to affect people who have experienced trauma, abuse, or high levels of stress.
- Eating disorders– Sexual violence can affect survivors in many ways, including perceptions of the body and feelings of control.
- Pregnancy– If you were recently raped, you may have concerns about becoming pregnant from the attack.
- Sleep disorders– Symptoms of sleep disorders can include trouble falling or staying asleep, sleeping at unusual times of day, or sleeping for longer or shorter than usual.
- Sucide– Suicide is preventable and suicidal thoughts aren’t permanent. If you are thinking about suicide, there are resources to give you the support you need to get through this tough time.
Physical Impact of Rape
Physical effects of rape can arise from both forced sexual assault and those not involving forcible submission, such as drug-assisted date rape. Forced sexual assault frequently causes visible bruising or bleeding in and around the vaginal or anal area and bruises on other parts of the body from coercive violence.
But both forced and other types of rape can have many other physical consequences including:
- Painful intercourse.
- Urinary infections.
- Uterine fibroids – non-cancerous tumors in muscle wall
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) – HIV, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and others.
Psychological Impact of Rape
Victims experience both short and long-term psychological effects of rape. One of the most common psychological consequences of rape is self-blame. Victims use self-blame as an avoidance-based coping tool.
Self-blame slows or, in many cases, stops the healing process. Other accompanying psychological problems associated with rape victims include:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – feelings of severe anxiety and stress.
- Flashbacks – memories of rape as if it is taking place again.
- Borderline personality disorder.
- Sleep disorders.
- Eating disorders.
- Dissociative identity disorder.
- Distrust of others – uneasy in everyday social situations.
- Feelings of personal powerlessness – victims feel the rapist robbed them of control over their bodies.
Rape Prevention Tips
Both males and females are susceptible to rape, but more women seem to be vulnerable to rape. It therefore becomes very necessary for both genders to take precautionary measures to protect themselves from falling victims to rape incidences.
Women, especially, can learn about rape prevention and use this knowledge to help them stay safe in many situations where sexual assault could occur. You can help prevent rape by taking these steps:
- Listen to your intuition when alone – Although you can never fully protect yourself from potential sexual assault, it’s important that you avoid dangerous situations.
- Stay aware of your surroundings, avoid isolated public areas.
- Walk with determination even if you’re lost, trust your gut.
- Keep your cell phone charged and with you.
- Avoid going somewhere alone with a person you don’t know well.
- Don’t use music headphones when walking alone.
- Reduce risk in social situations – Go to parties and social events with a group of friends and stay with the group. Do not leave your drink unattended. This leaves a potential rapist an opportunity to slip a date rape drug in it. Take it with you to go to the ladies room or anywhere else, even for a short time. If you do leave it, just get a new drink. Do not accept drinks from a stranger or someone you just met.
- Don’t reveal too much on social media – Some social media platforms use GPS locating service to tell friends where to find you. But think about it, would-be sexual predators can use these tools to find you as well. Turn off the location feature of these mobile apps on your cell phone before going out.
- Sexual violence chapter 6″ (PDF). World Health Organization. 2002.
- Gluck, S. (2012, July 2). Rape Prevention: How to Prevent Rape, HealthyPlace.