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Rape and Date Rape

How Does Rape Harm the Victim?

Rape harms the victim both physically and emotionally.

Types of physical harm due to rape include:

  • Broken bones, bruises, cuts, and other injuries from violent acts.
  • Injuries to the genitals and/or anus.
  • Being exposed to diseases that can be passed on during sex, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
  • Unwanted pregnancy.

Types of emotional harm include:

  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of worthlessness

You also may have problems with:

  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Trust
  • Attraction to men (if the attacker was a man)
  • Consensual sex later in life (inability to enjoy sex without intrusive recollections of the abuse)
  • Flashbacks (reliving the rape in your mind)
  • Nightmares
  • Falling and staying asleep

Will I Ever Feel Well Again After Being Raped?

Rape can leave physical and emotional scars that last a long time. Some victims find that emotional scars never go away. Long-term counseling can help you to deal with guilt, fear, depression, anxiety, and other emotions. Many victims also get help by joining support groups.

How Can I Protect Myself From Rape?

Unfortunately, there's no sure way to protect yourself from rape. Even people who take steps to protect themselves can be victims. But, following common safeguards, like these, is still a good idea:

  • Be responsible for your actions. Stay in control. Don't get drunk at a party and ask a stranger to drive you home, for example.
  • Don't walk alone at night. It takes just one trip alone to your car to be attacked. Walk with a friend.
  • Don't get talked into something you don't want to do. Make your own choices and stick with them.
  • Learn ways to defend yourself in the case of an attack.
  • Trust your feelings. If a person seems threatening to you, don't continue the friendship.
  • Learn about rape and why people rape. This knowledge will make you more alert to possible attackers.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 18, 2012

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