What is Rape?

Rape is a common type of sexual abuse that can happen to men or women. Most estimates suggest that up to 90% of rapes go unreported, which means it happens much more often than people believe. Current information alleges that 1 in 3 American women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

Rape can happen to anyone at any time, but most commonly happens to women between the ages of 16 and 24. Most rapists are men between the ages of 25 and 44 who put great effort into planning the attack. More often, rapists choose women who are the same race, and at least 50% of the time, the victim knows their rapist, and the rape occurs in the victim’s home. Alcohol is a factor in more than 33% of rapes.

Rape is a very violent sexual act, but it isn’t primarily about sex. Rape is generally about the rapist’s need for control and power over another human being.

The best way to prevent rape is to make men and women more aware of the reality of rape, and what rape means. There are also some safety tips you can follow to decrease the risk of rape occurring:

  • Always lock your doors and windows – to both your house and car.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially at night. If you walk or jog stay out of dark, isolated areas.
  • Walk confidently and stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Check the back seat of your car for intruders before getting in. Park in well-lit areas, and lock your doors immediately upon entering your cars.
  • If you use public transportation, try sitting up front by the driver.
  • Consider enrolling into a self-defense course.
  • Carry items that you can use to attract attention such as personal alarms and whistle.
  • Scream loudly or blow a whistle if someone attempts to assault you.
  • Do not hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers.
  • If you have car trouble and someone stops to assist, stay inside your locked car and ask the person to call help for you.
  • It is best to respond to an attack quickly and aggressively. Women who resist the attack this way are more likely to avoid being raped.

Rape is a traumatic event that will likely have serious consequences for the victim. S/He might not be able to say that they were raped out of fear, and might claim a different reason for seeking medical attention. The victim can have a variety of emotional reactions, such as social withdrawal, nervousness, confusion, inappropriate laughter, fear, tearfulness, numbness, and hostility.

Physical abuse is often a component of rape, and victims might need medical attention. Emergency room staffs are trained to take care of rape victims and to provide access to the necessary resources that can help. At the emergency room, physical injuries can be treated and steps can be taken to avoid potential pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.

One part of the hospital visit will be to collect evidence. This means that it is important for victims to not change clothes, brush their hair, take a shower, wash their hands, or do anything else that could alter the evidence. A history will be obtained that will collect the date and time of the rape, the victim’s activities since the rape, and where the rape occurred. Preferably both police and hospital staff will be present when this information is shared to avoid the victim having to relive the experience a second time.

Although rape is a traumatic event that can have major consequences, with the proper care many victims can recover. Treatment options include counseling and support groups. Additionally, rape victim hotlines are available for victims. Having a strong support group is important, and if possible, it is a good idea to have at least one trusted friend or family member accompany the victim to the hospital or police station.

The attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm understand that rape is a traumatic and humiliating experience, and take every precaution to ensure absolute confidentiality regarding the events and your treatment. It is our standard policy to avoid, if possible, making you relive the attack by testifying in court in favor of a pre-trial settlement. Experts in the complexities of proving sexual abuse and substantiating damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other injuries, our attorneys enable victims to pay for the medical treatment and counseling necessary for long term recovery so that they may, someday, resume normal lives.