By Massachusetts law, rape is defined as penetration against the victim’s will of a bodily orifice (vagina, anus, or mouth) by a penis or other part of the body, or by an object.  Legally, penetration must occur in order for the crime to be considered rape.  It is important to remember, however, that any woman who is sexually assaulted experiences intense reactions, whether or not the assault fits the legal definition of rape.

Rape is an act of violence and control using sex as a weapon  It is not motivated by sexual desire, but by the desire to overpower and dominate the victim.

Rape is dehumanizing.  Rapist treats the victim as an object to control, rather than a human.

Rape is frightening.  Whether or not a weapon is used, the woman feels that her body is in danger.  She may feel that her life is threatened as well.

Rape is an intrusion.  Rapist invades the body by force.  Afterwards, a survivor may feel that she has lost control not only over her body, but over her entire life.

Attempted Rape – through use of power/control, rapist tries to take sexual advantage of another, causing the victim to resist the rapists efforts.

Sexual Assault – any form of forced sexual activity, whether overtly or by inferred threat.  Includes: rape, incest, sexual harassment, child molest, marital rape, voyeurism and exposure.

Sexual Harassment – deliberate and/or repeated sexual or sex based behavior that is not welcomenot asked for, and not returned.  May interfere with work or learning environment for victim.

Incest – sexual contact that a family member or caretaker imposes on a child who is unable to alter the behavior because of his/her powerlessness in the family.

Date/Acquaintance rape – most commonly occurs when a male insists on sexual activity, won’t take no for an answer, and finally forces sex by threats or physical strength.  Acquaintance rape is as traumatic, perhaps more so, because a betrayal of trust is involved.

Perpetrators rape because of anger, feelings of powerlessness in their world, sadistic impulses.  Less than 3% of rapists are psychotic, less than 2% of rapists are women.  Rape is regarded as a crime of violence, not passion.  Sex is not the motive.  Rapists are insecure and inadequate people who do not feel in control of their lives and rape to gain power and control.  Men also rape as an expression of anger toward the whole female race.

Studies and statistics offer a rough picture of a “typical” rapist.  He is young, most likely between the ages of 15-19.  He is more likely to strike in the summer than in winter, at night rather than by day, with 50% rapes taking place in the home.  He is likely to be poor and like three-quarters of all rapists he was sexually abused as a child.

Victims are often from varied socio-economic backgrounds, male or female, range in age from infancy 0 age 90 are of all races, suffer similar aftereffects.