Rape is a grave crime, but it can be battled with awareness. Rape remains to be one of the most prevalent crimes in present society. It is a crime which affects the person’s well-being entirely, as rape comes with physical, emotional, social and psychological repercussions. Anyone can be a victim; race, gender and age do not matter. It is therefore necessary that all efforts must be made to avoid this crime from occurring. The only way rape can be battled is through information dissemination. It is this author’s stand that people can only protect themselves if they are aware of the nature of rape and if they know how to protect themselves.
This research paper aims to discuss the pertinent details of the crime of rape. Rape is basically sex without consent (Cleveland Clinic Foundation [CCF], 2005). It is considered rape when the sexual act is done against the will of the other person involved. Force is primarily used to make that person submit. More often than not, drugs and liquor are used to inebriate the victim. Violence is also utilized. Rape covers anal, oral and vaginal intercourse. No one is spared from this act; men, women and children can be raped. It must be noted that rape is considered a felony; therefore, it is a grave crime (CCF, 2005).
Statistics reveal that many have become victims of the crime of rape, regardless of gender or age. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network or RAINN (2008), out of six American women, there is one who has been victimized of either attempted rape or complete rate. The organization also notes that a total number of 17. 7 million female Americans have been victimized by either attempted rape or completed rape (RAINN, 2008). In the year 2003, out of ten rape victims, nine were female. Between 2004 and 2005, a total of 64,080 women were rape victims. However, women are not the only victims or rape.
In the United States alone, 2. 78 million men have been raped or sexual assault. It was also established that 1one in 33 American males have been victims of either attempted rape or completed rape. Children are also not spared from this crime; RAINN (2008) states that 15% of all rape and sexual assault victims are under the age of 12. Just as there are many victims of rape, there are also many effects of this crime. The effects of rape results in both physical and emotional harm (CCF, 2005). The physical harm that is caused by rape is more evident than its emotional counterpart.
To begin with, rape can definitely cause genital or anal damage. If the attacker used violence against the victim, this can result in wounds and bruises. Bones could also be broken if too much force was exerted. Rape victims are also at risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Victims may acquire syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes and even acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS. Rape can also cause unwanted pregnancy (CCF, 2005). Though not as obvious as the physical harm, the emotional pain which resulted from rape proves to be more devastating.
The victim has the tendency to feel guilty about the act of being rape, even if it was not his or her fault (CCF, 2005). Initially, rape victims will feel humiliation and a sense of worthlessness. Over time, other psychological problems will surface. Rape victims tend to be more afraid, depressed and angry; they also have a difficult time trusting people. Sleeping also proves to be a tedious task for victims. There is much difficulty in falling asleep. Even if they are lucky to fall asleep, nightmares may occur. Then, remaining asleep also becomes problematic. Flashbacks of the traumatic experience may also occur.
Because of this, victims may not derive pleasure from future consensual sexual acts because they could recall the abuse. If the rapist was male, the victim would have a hard time being attracted to men. These emotional effects can linger for as long as the victim’s lifetime. However, the emotional harm may be alleviated through counseling (CCF, 2005). Just as there are many emotional effects, there are also many different types of rape. This is because while rape can be given a general definition, there are still debates as to what really constitutes the act of rape (Herman, 2008).
The types of rape include stranger rape, date rape, statutory rape, partner rape and male rape (Herman, 2008; RAINN, 2008). The first type of rape is stranger rape. As the name suggests, stranger rape occurs when the attacker is unknown or not related to the victim. RAINN (2008) enumerates the three categories of this type of rape: blitz sexual assault, contact sexual assault and home invasion sexual assault. Blitz sexual assault occurs when the attacker quickly and violently rapes a person with which he or she has no previous contact. This kind of stranger rape often happens at public venues during night time.
Contact sexual assault occurs when the attacker exerts effort in directly contacting the victim before the actual assault happens. In this situation, the suspect attempts to earn the trust and confidence of the potential victim. Suspects usually frequent bars to search for victims and bring these victims to their cars. Home invasion sexual assault occurs when the suspect breaks into the home of the potential victim to commit rape. In all three categories, the victims’ reactions to the rape are the same. Victims feel shocked and numb. The swiftness of the attack leaves victims disoriented and feeling out of control.
After the deed, the feel afraid and vulnerable; they seem helpless in their situation (RAINN, 2008). Another type is date rape, also known as acquaintance rape. This type of rape occurs when the attacker is known to the victim; the parties involved could be friends, people involved in a past romantic relationship or current lovers (Herman, 2008; RAINN, 2008). Research reveals that the chances of being raped by an acquaintance are higher than the chances of being sexually assaulted by a relative or a complete stranger (Herman, 2008). In the case of date rape, there are many factors to consider.
First, being in a romantic relationship or being intimate does not signify consent (RAINN, 2008). Second, consent must be given in every occasion of sexual intimacy; this consent must be affirmed as the sexual activity progresses. For example, consent must be given as two people move from kissing to petting, and so on. Lastly, it must be considered that this type of rape is driven by a desire for control and an intention to hurt and humiliate (RAINN, 2008). Date rape occurs in three stages and is accompanied by both physical and emotional reactions (RAINN, 2008). The three stages of date rape are intrusion, desensitization and isolation.
In the first stage, the suspect tries to invade another’s personal space or comfort zone. This is done by exposing personal details about oneself or exhibiting seemingly harmless physical contact. In the second stage, the victim is already at ease with the suspect so the latter does not appear as a threat. The victim may feel uncomfortable at times, but this feeling will soon be disregarded. The last stage occurs when the suspect takes advantage of the victim’s trust to set a distance from others. Like in all rape cases, victims of date rape may experience fear, helplessness and sleeping troubles.
However, date rape may also result in eating problems, substance abuse, and even suicide (RAINN, 2008). The third type is statutory rape. This type of rape is defined as sexual intercourse wherein the victim is minor or is too young to provide consent (Herman, 2008). The consenting age for sexual activity varies from one state law to another. The consenting age is usually not above 18 years old. Most states have laws which impose harsher punishment when the victim involved is younger. In addition, sexual intercourse could be considered as statutory rape when the victim cannot provide consent due to reasons aside from age.
This includes sexual intercourse with victims who were unconscious, intoxicated or mentally incapacitated. This is considered rape because the victim in question is not only incapable of proper judgment, but also incapable of resisting the attacker. Therefore, the victim is rendered incapable to protect him or herself (Herman, 2008). The fourth type is partner rape. This type of rape occurs when sexual intercourse happens without the other person’s consent; the suspect in this type of rape can either be the husband, “current or previous partner, or co-habitator” (RAINN, 2008).
The rape of a spouse is referred to as spousal or marital rape (Herman, 2008). Before, laws did not acknowledge the possibility of rape occurring between husband and wife. At present, due to the prevalence of domestic violence, the laws have been changed (Herman, 2008). There are three subtypes of partner rape, and just like date rape, it comes with intense physical and emotional consequences (RAINN, 2008). The three subtypes of partner rape are battering rape, force-only rape and obsessive/sadistic rape. Battering rape is characterized by both physical and sexual abuse.
While the victim is being sexually assaulted, he or she is also being physically abused. In some cases, after being physically abused, the sexual assault will follow. Force-only rape is driven by the suspect’s need to preserve power and control. One’s feeling of domination is achieved through the assault of the partner. Meanwhile, obsessive/sadistic rape includes perversion and torture. This type of rape is marked by extreme violence. Due to the violent nature of this type of rape, it is then expected that the victim would physically suffer from the consequences.
Physical injuries from partner rape include bruises and lacerations, as well as broken bones and muscle damage. If the suspect did use weapons, injuries from those are also expected. Pregnant victims may miscarry or suffer from stillbirth. It is also possible that victims may contract sexually-transmitted disease. As for the emotional repercussions, the victims feel betrayed and lose their trust in people; this stems from the fact that their suspects used to be someone close to them (RAINN, 2008). The last type of rape is male rape.
The traditional notion about rape is that women are always the victims while men are the usual suspects (Herman, 2008). However, it is also possible that men could be rape victims. Because the traditional notion still holds at present society, male rape is not as discussed as female or child rape. This is the reason why the issues of male rape victims are left unaddressed (RAINN, 2008). Male rape is accompanied with emotional and psychological consequences. To begin with, victims will feel shame and embarrassment (RAINN, 2008). Because of this, male victims will hesitate to report the crime to the authorities.
There are two reasons behind this hesitation. First, male rape victims will refuse to seek help because of the possibility of public judgment. To seek help means relaying the story repeatedly to different individuals; this presents the risk of being unfairly judged. Second, the victim will refrain from seeking help to protect his family from the same judgment. In addition, the refusal to report to the authorities can also be a victim’s way to protect his privacy. The shame and embarrassment will eventually result in withdrawal and alienation in society.
Moreover, male rape could also result in relationship problems and identity issues. The relationships of the victims can be affected by the assault itself, the victim’s reaction to the assault, other people’s feedback to the assault, or all of these factors combined. Meanwhile, identity issues could arise for both heterosexual and homosexual male victims. Heterosexual men suffer from what is referred to as “homosexual panic”; this is characterized by the fear of becoming homosexual due to the assault (RAINN, 2008). As a result, the victim may no longer feel confident about his masculinity.
As for homosexuals, the assault may lead them to self-hatred because of their sexual orientation. The rape may seem like punishment for their homosexuality (RAINN, 2008). Regardless of the type of rape they have experienced, all victims share a similarity. That similarity is the trauma which comes from the experience of being raped, also known as the Rape Trauma Syndrome or RTS (Rape Victims Advocates [RVA], 2008). This syndrome, discovered by Ann Wolbert Burgess and Lynda Lytle Holmstrom, is a group of responses to the stress a rape victim had experienced during the crime.
RTS includes the person’s response to the fear of dying, which every rape victim feels while being assaulted. RTS has two phases: the Acute or Initial Phase, and the Reorganization Phase. Both of these phases showcase both the emotional and physical issues that need to be addressed after the experience (RVA, 2008) The Acute or Initial Phase begins from the first few days and may last until the next few weeks following the rape (RVA, 2008). During this time, the victim’s life is in the state of disorder; this disorder is caused by the fear of death which accompanied the assault.
The main emotional concern of this phase is the apparent contrast. In one moment, a victim may appear emotional and hysterical; in another moment, the same victim may seem calm and collected. The reasons for such contrast are the two styles of emotional responses during the Acute or Initial Phase: expressed and controlled (RVA, 2008). The expressed style and the controlled style are very different. The expressed style of responding emotionally is characterized by an open exhibition of the victim’s real feelings (RVA, 2008). The victim may cry or laugh, become very talkative and even a little edgy.
In contrast, the controlled style is characterized by the victim’s efforts to keep his or her emotions in check. The real emotions are bottled up inside, making the victim appear composed and unaffected. These styles show how different people react to such traumatic experience. Nonetheless, a single person may display both styles in dealing with the experience (RVA, 2008). The physical concerns of the Acute or Initial Phase are the immediate effects on the body as well as the behavioral disruptions. During the first few days after the attack, the victim will experience soreness and pain in various parts of the body (RVA, 2008).
The pain is most concentrated on the body parts which were directly assaulted. Aside from the evident bodily harm, there are other ways in which the trauma will manifest itself. One such example would be through the changes in one’s behavioral pattern. Rape victims will experience significant change in their sleeping and eating habits. They can eat and sleep more than they used to; they could also be unable to sleep or eat at all. Nightmares are inevitable, but sometimes this kind of dreams can bring the victims closer to healing (RVA, 2008).
Meanwhile, the Reorganization Phase starts several weeks after the rape took place and may last until a few months after the attack (RVA, 2008). During this time, the rape victim restarts anew after the rape has occurred. This phase marks the beginning of a person’s ability to cope. There are four factors which are to be considered in the Reorganization Phase: personality, support system, current life issues and previous sexual assault. Personality indicates whether the victim had already established coping mechanisms, which played a part in their recovery from past stress and trauma.
Support system is the network of family and friends which the rape victim can utilize for emotional support. Current life issues refer to the victim’s problems other than the rape, which may exacerbate the trauma. This includes substance or alcohol dependency, divorce and the like. Lastly, previous sexual assault refers to an attack which may have occurred within a few short years prior to the immediate rape. The latter may hamper the healing process (RVA, 2008). While there are four factors to consider in the Reorganization Phase, there are also four areas of concern during the said phase (RVA, 2008).
The first is the social area. The victims will have difficulty reorienting himself or herself into society. They will exhibit distrust in people; if the suspect was male, the victim will specifically be distrustful of men. If the victim was raped alone, he or she may constantly look for companionship. If the victim was gang-raped, he or she will only seek the company of a selected few. In an effort to restore the normalcy of their lives, victims resort to significant changes in their life. This may include moving to a different house, leaving school or changing their jobs (RVA, 2008).
The second area of concern is the victim’s psychological state (RVA, 2008). Generally, denial of the rape and its effects are normal occurrences. Though it is a recognized step to recovery, denial which lasts longer than usual can hinder recovery. Also, the victim has the tendency to blame him or herself for the attack; this would result in guilt, loss of self-esteem and depression. In addition, the victim may develop certain phobias. For instance, if the attack occurs outside the home, the victim may be scared to go out of the house. If the suspect’s breath smelled of liquor, such odor may haunt the victim and cause nausea.
Overall, victims are expected to suffer from paranoia or panic attacks (RVA, 2008). There are also sexual concerns during the Reorganization Phase (RVA, 2008). Because sex was used as a means for punishment and control, most victims will have difficulty deriving pleasure from future sexual activities. This is because the line between rape and consensual sex is blurred. Physical pain during intercourse and difficulty in relaxing are expected. In most cases, victims will become unresponsive to sex. Others, however, may seek sex constantly. A victim’s attitude will fall under either of these responses (RVA, 2008).
The fourth concern is physical in nature (RVA, 2008). The victim may suffer from continuous problems in the genitals. If the rape involved physical abuse, the pain during the attack may recur. Other problems which may continue include worrying about the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and sleeping difficulties (RVA, 2008). The aforementioned phases are keys to recovery. Though recovery is important, just as important is the victim’s action immediately after the attack. What should be done after rape has occurred? First and foremost, a victim must proceed to a safe place away from the attacker (RAINN, 2008).
Second, the victim must seek help from the authorities. If he or she is scared to contact to the police, the person in question must contact a rape crisis center (CCF, 2005). It is crucial that the victim must not wash, douche or brush their teeth (CCF, 2005; RAINN, 2008). It is necessary that all evidence of the attack must be kept, including bodily fluids (CCF, 2005). If possible, a victim should try to remember as much details as she can about the rape and the rapist (RAINN, 2008). The next step would be a visit to the emergency room (CCF, 2005). Rape victims need to be examined by health professionals.
All injuries will be documented before treatment can begin. The reason why washing or douching is discouraged is because semen and other fluid samples left by the attacker will be collected. These can be used for the identification and conviction of the suspect (CCF, 2005). It is true that rape can be prevented. Nonetheless, there is not a single set of guidelines which can guarantee that one would not be attacked (CCF, 2005). Instead, there are safeguards which can help protect people and prevent this crime from happening. First, recognize the surroundings (RAINN, 2008).
One must know the location and the kind of people in that location. Refrain from using music headphones or earphones. Second, stay away from isolated and dimly lit places. Isolation makes seeking help during an attack more problematic. Avoid isolated paths and shortcuts; stick with populated public areas. Third, appear confident. Even if one is lost, it must seem like he or she knows what they are doing. Fourth, do not ignore your instincts. If a certain venue does not make one feel uneasy, he or she must leave. Fifth, try to carry as few bags or packages as possible. Having both hands full can make one more vulnerable to an attack.
Sixth, always keep your cell phone charged; also keep emergency numbers on the cell phone. Seventh, always have cash and change on hand in case of emergency. Eighth, make sure you are not left alone with someone of questionable character. To those with vehicles, the doors must always be kept locked. Have a constant supply of car essentials. Always keep the gas tank full or at least half-filled. At home, keep doors locked as well. Regularly change locks and do not keep windows or blinds open (RAINN, 2008). These are some guidelines which can be followed to protect oneself from assault and prevent rape.
To further prevent oneself from being raped, one must be made aware of the new ways in which people can be victimized. While technology has indeed proven useful and convenient, it also is disadvantageous as it can be used to harm other people. The Internet is currently being used by suspects as a means to commit rape; it is referred to as internet rape. BBC News (2001) reported that 45-year-old Phillip Bugler was charged for raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl he met over the internet. It was said that Bugler convinced the girl to ride in his car, brought her to a hotel, locked the door and raped her.
In a related story, the Boston Globe reported that 31-year-old Joseph Silva was charged with aggravated felonious sexual assault when he allegedly drugged the drink of the woman he met online and raped her (Mishra, 2006). These stories are proof that the internet is being used by criminals to search for victims. Another technologically pitfall presented by computers is the lack of privacy. Computers hold valuable information which can be accessed by anyone. This information would be detrimental if it falls in the hands of a potential stalker.
Fortunately, there are steps to protect one’s privacy in the computer (RAINN, 2008). If one suspects that he or she is being tracked by someone through the computer, here are the necessary steps which can be done to keep your privacy. First, clean the cache and history of the computer. Second, delete all the cookies on the computer. Third, secure the computer; do not allow other people to have access. If other people can access it and if one feels being monitored, it is important that he or she must seek a safer computer by using computers in a library or a community center (RAINN, 2008).
Just as rape can be prevented, its effects can also be treated. It cannot be denied that rape can cause emotional and psychological damage to a victim. Fortunately, there are treatments which can be provided for rape victims. One of the effects of rape is known as the posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD (Falsetti & Bernat, 2000). There are many kinds of available treatment for rape victims which suffer from PTSD. Treatments include stress inoculation training, prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy and multiple channel exposure therapy (Falsetti & Bernat, 2000).
In stress inoculation training (SIT), rape victims learn how fear arises as a response to trauma and how they control their fear through designed exercises; this control will eventually be tested through application. This kind of therapy has three stages, and was proven to be most effective for female rape victims. Prolonged exposure (PE) is a method of treatment referred to as flooding; in this treatment, victims are constantly bombarded with traumatic images in an effort to decrease fear and anxiety. This kind of treatment is considered as better in dealing with PTSD than mere counseling.
Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) treats both PTSD and depression in rape victims. The objective of this treatment is for the victim to understand and deal with the emotions and beliefs about the rape. In this kind of treatment, victims are guided to confront their feelings and comprehend the attack in a different perspective. This treatment can be performed either in groups or individually. Lastly, multiple channel exposure therapy (MCET) is a treatment which derived techniques from SIT, CPT and “Mastery of Your Anxiety and Panic” (Falsetti & Bernat, 2000).
Originally, this therapy was meant for the treatment of general trauma, in cases such as domestic violence. However, it has now been adapted for the treatment of rape victims which suffer from PTSD and panic attacks (Falsetti & Bernat, 2000). With these treatments, rape victims can regain control over their lives and start anew after such traumatic experience. Rape is a serious crime, a pertinent social concern which needs to be resolved and addressed. There are many types of rape, just as there are many consequences of such attack.
While rape cannot be directly avoided, there are ways in which individuals can protect themselves to prevent this from happening. However, the only way people can protect themselves is through awareness. It is necessary that the public is made aware of the necessary information about rape and its prevention. This calls for thorough information dissemination in the community. It is in this way in which the community can be vigilant in its efforts to decrease the number of rape victims. Information and awareness are the keys in fighting the prevalence of rape.