Rape is the crime of someone forcing someone else to have sex. It happens to men and women and many cases go unreported.
Rape, or any kind of sexual violence, can never be justified
What is rape?
If you are made to have sex or someone has sex with you without your agreement (consent), this is rape. This is when a man or a boy forces his penis into your vagina, anus (bottom) or mouth.
If you have not been raped but someone has touched you in a sexual way that you do not agree to then this is sexual assault. If you are being bullied in a sexual way then this is sexual harassment.
Common questions about rape:
Can boys and men be raped?
Yes, boys and men can be sexually assaulted and raped. This could happen to gay or straight men, and isn’t about their sexuality. You can be sexually assaulted by a male or a female. It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean you are weak. Often boys feel like they should be able to stop it because they are male. Sexual assault and rape is about the abuse of power. It is never your fault and the police will take it seriously.
If I was too drunk to say no, was it my fault?
It is never your fault. Nobody has a right to have sex with you without your agreement. If you were too drunk to give your agreement, then you were raped.
I think I was drugged, what can I do?
It is important if you think you have been drugged that you get medical help as soon as possible. It is difficult to know what effect this is having on your body as everyone reacts differently.
If you have also taken other drugs, or alcohol, these could react together so it’s important to be honest about what might be in your system. A nurse can do a urine test to find out exactly what drug you have taken and give you the right medical advice. An attacker may use a date rape drug to make you more vulnerable and stop you from remembering clearly what happened. It is not your fault, and the police will take this seriously.
If it’s my boyfriend / girlfriend, is it still rape?
Yes, nobody has a right to have sex with you without your agreement, even if you are in a relationship with them or have had sex with them before.
The facts about rape:
- 1 in 5 women in England and Wales have been the victim of a sexual offence or attempted offence
- It's not just girls. Between 2009-10 and 2011-12 there were an estimated 78,000 victims of rape per year in England and Wales - 69,000 females and around 9,000 males.
- Around 90% of victims of the most serious sexual offences in the previous year knew the perpetrator.
- Only 15% of rapes are reported to the police.
People of all ages and backgrounds sadly can and do experience sexual violence. No matter what the situation, sexual violence is always 100% the responsibility of the perpetrator.
Nonetheless, there are some simple things we can all do to try and keep ourselves safe and healthy:
- Alcohol. Keep your drinking safe. Even though we should be safe when out on a night out we know that rapists will choose people who look vulnerable. Make sure you look out for yourself and your friends.
- On a night out, make sure someone knows who you are with and where you are going.
- Avoid travelling alone, but don't accept lifts from strangers. Take only licenced taxis.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy - get out. No apologies, no backwards glances.
If you've been raped
You've been through a terrible ordeal – and asking for help can be difficult. Do remember that this isn’t your fault.
You may feel worried, sad or angry and that you’re trying to deal with this all on your own. However, lots of people find if they talk to someone it can help. Some things you can do are:
• Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult.
• Rape is a serious crime and you should think about reporting it to the police as soon as possible. If you are at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999. But only you can decide whether or not to report the assault or rape to the police.
• Speak to a doctor or a nurse so they can check that you are ok and give you any medical help.
• Tell an adult you trust - this could include a teacher, a family member, your youth worker, social worker or support worker.
• With a safe adult, you could develop a safety plan that would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
There are lots of organisations who can help you make sense of what happened and look after you while you do. You can get confidential, independent and specialist support from organisations like Rape Crisis or This Is Abuse, who can help you with your next steps.
BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.