What is rape?
“… forced sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal, or oral penetration. Penetration may be by a body part or an object.”
Some victims of rape wonder about their specific circumstance and wonder if it constitutes rape. Chances are, if you’re wondering, “was I raped?” you probably were. Rape happens any time sexual intercourse takes place without your consent. Note that many circumstances can indicate your lack of consent including:
• An inability to give consent due to age;
• An inability to give consent due to diminished capacity (perhaps due to a disability);
• An inability to give consent due to inebriation (usually due to ingesting drugs or alcohol).
And, of course, any time you say, “no” to intercourse and it is forced on you, that is rape. It doesn’t matter if you said “no” in the middle of the act, it is still rape if the other party doesn’t immediately stop and respect your wishes. You have the right to rescind consent at any time, under any circumstances.
What’s sexual assault?
• A person is penetrated without their consent;
• Someone is touched in a sexual way that makes him or her feel uncomfortable or frightened (this could be through their clothes or directly);
• Someone is made to sexually stimulate themselves using their hands or fingers or put objects into their private places when they don’t want to do it.
Myths and facts about rape and sexual assault
Myth: Most rapes are committed by strangers. Fact: Most rapes are carried out by somebody you know and trust.
Myth: Rape happens because of the way the victim is dressed. Fact: Rape has nothing to do with what the victim wears. Nobody has the right to have sex with someone without their consent.
Myth: If someone’s drunk when they’re raped it’s their own fault. Fact: The only person to blame is the rapist. Being drunk doesn’t give anyone the right to hurt you.
Myth: Rape doesn’t happen to boys or men. Fact: This is not true – boys and men can also be raped. Rape is sex without consent regardless of whether you are male or female.
Myth: If your boyfriend/husband, significant other, forces you to have sex, it is not real rape. Fact: If you have been forced to have sex by anyone, it is rape.
Myth: When it comes to sex, some people say ‘no’ but they really mean ‘yes’. Fact: No means no but sometimes people may be too frightened to say anything. This doesn’t mean they are consenting to sex.
What is consent?
Consent means giving permission for something to happen or agreeing to do something and being comfortable with that decision. Consent must be given by both parties if you’re planning to do anything sexual.
Consent has to be given freely and no one can be made to consent to something. You can also never assume that someone is giving consent, you have to be sure. Consent is not feeling, it must be verbally communicated.
Here are five things you need to know if you have been raped:
1. Seek medical attention in an ER immediately. Time is of the essence, since the collection of forensic evidence is time-sensitive.
2. Do not shower or change your clothes before going to the ER. Clothing may be collected as forensic evidence.
3. You do not need to relive or retell every nightmarish detail of your horrible experience, unless you want to. Every hospital has nurses, doctors, or trained rape-kit professional on-call to help you through the process. These people will never demand that you tell them everything that happened. This is unnecessary and can do more emotional and psychological harm than good. The only two things they need to know in order to protect your health are: 1.) “Did the person use a condom?” and 2.) “What orifices were penetrated?”
4. The term “rape-kit” may sound scary, but in reality, it’s actually fairly simple. Performing a rape-kit on someone involves collecting hair samples, swab cultures from the mouth, vagina and anus, scrapings under the nails, blood samples, urine cultures, and a urine toxicology sample. Depending on the type of trauma, imaging tests like ultrasounds, x-rays, or CT scans may be necessary. Photographs may also be taken. Medication will also be offered and administered to prevent or prophylaxis against possible STIs, including Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and HIV, as well as to prevent unintended pregnancy.
5. Seeking comfort and support from trained counselors and mental health professionals is very important, as is surrounding yourself with a close but select group of friends and/or family.
Something to keep in mind is that most women are raped by someone they know. A great tool that could help save your life is Robin McGraw’s Aspire News App. While it appears to be a news app, it can be used to secretly alert chosen contacts about a potentially violent situation.
Knowing that rape is not your fault and that you WILL recover is easier said than done.
Support and help
Sidney Police take reports of rape and sexual assault very seriously. They have specially trained officers who are very kind and understanding and will explain what happens all the way through and help you to make a statement. There will also be people there who can help you with any medical or emotional worries you might have.
There are no excuses for rape or sexual assault. No-one asks for it and no-one deserves it.
If you feel unable to report it to the police straight away, tell someone you trust.
Please know that your strength and courage is admired.
Sidney-Shelby Crime Stoppers is a diverse group of individuals working with local law enforcement officials to hand out rewards for information.