Rape and Date Rape

What is rape?

Rape is a felony offense in which a person (man, woman, or child) is forced to engage in sexual relations (vaginal, anal, or oral) against his or her will or without having given consent. Often an attacker will use physical force in committing rape; however, rape also occurs when someone uses threats of violence or emotional force or manipulation to engage an individual in sex.

If the victim is drunk or high from alcohol or drugs, he or she is not able to legally give consent. In addition, persons who are physically or mentally disabled, or who are under a certain age relative to the perpetrator, are deemed legally incapable of consenting to sex.

What is date rape?

Date rape is a felony offense in which a person is forced to engage in sexual relations with someone that the victim knows, agreed to spend time with, or has a relationship with. Agreeing to a date or even a physical relationship is not the same as consenting to sexual relations.

One out of seven women has experienced forcible rape sometime in her lifetime.

What are the effects of rape?

There are significant negative effects of rape, some obvious, some less so. Common effects include:

What should I do if I have been raped?

How can I protect myself against rape?

Will I ever feel well again?

Rape can leave both physical and emotional scars. Many rape survivors feel like the rape is their fault. Rape is never the victimís fault, but feelings of guilt can prevent someone from getting help.

Sometimes the emotional effects of rape occur weeks or months later. Counseling can help one deal with the emotional symptoms (guilt, fear, depression, anxiety) of having endured a traumatic event. In addition, many survivors of rape find help through support groups.

It is important to get counseling for yourself as soon as possible to avoid serious emotional complications, even if you choose not to press charges against your attacker.

Where can I get help?

Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1.800.656.4673) at any time of day or night.



This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: 1/13/2016