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Women's Health

Rape and Date Rape

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What Is Rape?

Rape occurs when sexual intercourse is non-consensual (not agreed upon), or a person forces another person to have sex against his or her will. It also can occur when the victim is intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Rape includes intercourse in the vagina, anus, or mouth. It is a felony offense, which means it is among the most serious crimes a person can commit. Men as well as women and children can be raped.

Many times, the person who commits rape uses violence to force the person to have sex. An attacker also can use fear alone to commit rape. Rape can cause both physical and emotional harm to the victim.

What Is Date Rape?

Date rape also is when one person forces another person to have sex. It, too, is a felony offense. The difference between rape and date rape is that the victim knows the attacker socially. Perhaps he or she even went out with his or her attacker more than once.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Raped?

If you have been raped, follow these steps:

  • Don't wash or douche. You do not want to wash away any evidence that could be used against your attacker in court.
  • Call the police and tell them what happened. If you are afraid to call the police, call your local rape crisis center.
  • Go to an emergency room. While there, you will be examined. A doctor will make a record of your injuries and treat you. Samples of any fluid left in the vagina or anus (especially semen) will be gathered. Hair, pieces of clothing, or other objects left by the attacker also may be taken. These samples may be used to help identify and convict your attacker.

Was It Really Rape?

Some victims feel like rape is their fault. Although rape is never the victim's fault, feelings of guilt can prevent the victim from getting help. Remember, rape can really hurt a person's emotions. Even if you get over the crisis of the attack, you may develop painful feelings later. It's important to get help for yourself as soon as possible to avoid serious emotional complications, even if you do not want to press charges against your attacker.

If you aren't sure if what happened to you was rape, a rape crisis counselor or doctor can help you sort it out.

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