What is Rape?

Stop-the-silence_770Rape is an alarmingly unreported crime. Fewer than 20 percent of crimes of sexual violence are reported to the police [1]. According to one study, 95 percent of rape victims made no report to officials [2]. The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder reports that over 80% of rape cases are date rape.

Victims of rape can be male or female; attackers may also be male or female. 78% of the time, a victim knows the attacker and may or may not be dating him/ her.

One in five high school students reports being physically/ and or sexually abused by a dating partner. [3] One in eight college women is the victim of rape during her college years; one in four experiences attempted rape [4]. 18.3% of women and 1.4% of men have reported being raped at some time in their lives [5].

Rape occurs if consent is not freely given during a sexual act. Even if a person has had sex with someone, she or he still has a right to say no to having sex again.

Legal definitions of rape and date rape vary (depending upon jurisdiction), but generally they include [6]:

  • Physically forcing a person to have vaginal, oral, or anal sex
  • Threatening to harm the victim or someone they care about to make them have sex
  • Using an authority position, like being a teacher or boss, to make someone have sex
  • Having sex with someone who can’t make a decision to say yes or no, i.e. someone who is drugged or drunk
  • Violating someone with an object
  • A sexual act with any individual under 18 constitutes Statutory Rape
  • Other forms of unwanted sexual contact are generally considered sexual assault

If you are the victim of rape [7]:

  • Get medical help at the emergency room right away
  • Don’t pee, shower, or change clothes before getting help
  • Don’t touch anything at the crime scene where the rape occurred
  • Talk to a victims’ advocate whether or not you plan to press charges
  • Get counseling for the negative feelings you are probably experiencing
  • You can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE

Victims of rape may experience long-term mental or emotional reactions, including depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Counseling can help victims recover from their experience.

If you know a victim of rape, do not blame the victim for the attack [8]. Show a victim love and support, and encourage him/her to get medical help. It is important to remember that victims of date rape are never at fault for the rape, even if they were flirting, dressed in suggestive clothing, or drinking or using drugs. Rape is a violent crime, not an act of passion.

Even if the attack occurred some time ago, the victim should still be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and offered counseling to help deal with the anger and shame that often occur after a person is raped.


God’s Word compares rape with that of attacking and murdering a neighbor:

“But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor . . . “ (Deuteronomy 22:25, NIV)

In cases of rape, God recognizes the innocence of victims and calls for justice. Perpetrators have committed grievous sins warranting serious penalty.

The rape of Dinah by Shechem in Genesis 34 outraged her family although her father unjustly agreed for him to marry her. Scripture conveys that she had been defiled, adversely affecting her marriageability, prosperity and standing in the community. Shechem’s act of violence against Dinah bred malevolent consequences. In the end, her brothers tricked and murdered Shechem and many in his community.

Tamar’s response to Amnon’s sexual violence sheds further light on God’s thinking about it. “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel.” (2 Samuel 13:12-12, NIV).

Judges 20 paints a tragic portrait of the gang rape and murder of a young woman. The crime ignited an ugly battle resulting in further killings and destruction.

God’s Word clearly condemns rape and the tragic ways that it tears down people and communities.

{ By Amy Rasmussen Buckley }


[1]  Roger Williams University Website, “Rape Myths and Facts,” https://www.rwu.edu/campus-life/health-counseling/counseling-center/sexual-assault/rape-myths-and-fac (accessed June 12, 2014).

[2]  Ibid.

[3]  Silverman et al., “Dating Violence,” 2004.

[4]  Roger Williams University Website, Rape Myths and Facts, https://www.rwu.edu/campus-life/health-counseling/counseling-center/sexual-assault/rape-myths-and-fac (accessed June 12, 2014).

[5]  Black MC, Basile KC, Breiding MJ, Smith SG, Walters ML, Merrick MT, Chen J, Stevens MR. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2011.

[6] Teen Violence Statistics Website, https://www.teenviolencestatistics.com/content/date-rape.html (accessed June 12, 2014).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition Website, https://www.dvsac.org/how-to-help-a-friend-or-family-member-whos-been-raped/, accessed June 12, 2014.