Since it is impossible to create a definition that encompasses each and every possible scenario, here are a few of the questions survivors and victims may have:
- What if I know the assailant, date, or used to date the assailant?
No matter how well you know a person, they do not have the right to touch you or have sex with you if you do not consent. Any unwanted sexual activity that you experience from another person is a sexual assault, sexual abuse, or a rape. This even holds true if you have had sex with a person in the past. If you refuse at the time of the incident, a rape occurred.
- I never physically resisted the assailant.
Lack of consent can be communicated with a simple "no" and/or other verbal and non-verbal declarations (such as tears, fears, shaking, etc) that you do not wish to have sex. It may also be implied by the circumstances, such as your young age, mental capacity, intoxication, or fear of being physically harmed. Not resisting the assault does not automatically mean that you consented. In many cases the victim fears that fighting back might result in the attacker becoming more violent.
- I was unconscious or asleep when the rape occurred.
If you are asleep or unconscious, then you cannot give your consent to sexual intercourse. Without your consent to intercourse, a crime occurred and it's called rape.
- I don't remember the rape.
Not remembering the rape doesn't mean that the rape did not happen. Memory loss can be a result of date rape
drugs like GHB and roofies
, as well as drinking too much alcohol. When in doubt, talk to someone, contact your local authorities, or your local crisis center.
- I was drunk/the rapist was drunk.
Alcohol or any other drug is no excuse for a sexual assault. In most states, both parties must be conscious and willing in order for the sex to not be considered rape. However, these laws can also vary by state so contact your local authorities or crisis center for the relevant local laws.
- I never said "no," but I thought it.
If you were scared for your health, your life, or the life of your loved ones, then you did not freely consent to any sexual activity. Additionally, it is rape if there is a knife or gun used to threaten you if you say anything. It is also rape if the perpetrator threatens to retaliate against you, threatens to harm you if you say anything or try to fight back.
If you are not sure if you have been raped, sexually abused, or sexually assaulted, contact your local crisis center or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE for help and support.
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