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Stranger rape is a type of non-consensual sex where the perpetrator is not known to the victim. While many believe it is the archetypal rape, it’s estimated that as little as 12% of rape acts are committed by strangers to the victim.
The term stranger rape entered common usage in the early to mid-1990s.
Stranger rape can occur in several ways. For example, a perpetrator may rape a homeowner during a break-in or after coming across them in a parking lot. Stranger rape can also occur when a perpetrator attempts to seduce a stranger, after a meeting in a nightclub, for example, and their advances are rejected. A perpetrator of stranger rape may attack at the moment he sees their victim or may stalk the victim for a period of time before striking.
With the exception of rapes committed by family members and husbands against wives, stranger rape is typically more violent than acquaintance rape. In spite of this difference, survivors of stranger rape experience similar psychological symptoms as those of acquaintance rape. These symptoms may include feelings of shock and confusion, fear of sex and intimacy, and physical injuries sustained in the attack. However, stranger rape victims often find it easier to recover from the attack, as they do not feel the same sense of betrayal by people they know and even love.
Victims of stranger rape often blame themselves for the attack and fear that they may have encouraged the rapist’s advances. Regardless of the circumstances, a stranger rape survivor is never responsible for the perpetrator’s actions.