Updated: AUGUST 12, 2019

Rape is a form of sexual assault involving sexual activity without the victim's consent. Rape is often assumed to be perpetrated by physical force or violence, but it may also be carried out by coercion, abuse of authority, or against someone who is physically unable to consent, such as someone who is drunk or unconscious. Rape is typically defined in criminal law, and its definition may vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

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Rape is believed to be one of the most under-reported crimes. This may be a result of the stigma that is still associated with being a victim of rape. Rape can be carried out by any gender, and victims may be of any gender as well. However, societal assumptions about gender often influence how rape victims are treated by society and in the courts. This may also color how victims feel about the crime they endured. For example, it is not uncommon for female rape victims to be judged for not fighting back against their rapists, for putting themselves in a situation that allowed the rape to occur, or for wearing provocative clothing. Similarly, male victims of rape may be shamed for not accepting a partner's advances, or for being so weak as to allow themselves to be assaulted. These assumptions can often be as painful for the victims as the trauma of the rape itself.


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