Rapedenotes the &quotpenetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina oranus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organof another person, without the consent of the victim.&quot Theprevalence of rape has receded over the years, but there areinstances that require elimination. Statistics indicate that one inevery four women in the United States have experienced completed touncompleted rape. As much as statistics indicate a reduction in rapecases, more should be done to eliminate the vice completely.Nevertheless, rapes occur in most places that people do notunderstand, such as marriages, colleges, fraternities and duringdates. Some of these places are supposed to make people feel safe,but that is not the case. For tat reason, this paper will discuss theprevalence of rape incidents in these places as well as identify howone can help a rape victim.


Kennedy(2013) describes rape as &quotpenetration, no matter how slight, ofthe vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetrationby a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.&quotThe researcher added in his study that rapes happen more often thanpeople know. He also argued that rape is grossly under reported inthe country. Cohn, Zinzow, Resnick and Kilpatrick (2013) agree thatthe law enforcement under counts or eliminates rape incidents fromtheir official records to build an illusion of successful fighting ofviolent crimes. The NationalResearch Council (2013) generated a report indicating that21.8 percent of women in America have been gang raped. Since 2013,the country has experienced 0.1 percent rape incidents (shows thenumber of male and female victims instead of the actual number ofassaults). Additionally, the Department of Justice released a reportshowing that overall 173,610 individuals became sexual assault orrape victims in 2013 (NationalResearch Council, 2013).The report added that most of the victims include college women aged18 years to 24 years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)gathered information involving rape perpetrators and victims andidentified 67,345 and 12,100 female and male sexual assault victimsrespectively. The FBI also maintained that 70,930 and 4,394 male andfemale sexual assault offenders were identified and incarcerated(NationalResearch Council, 2013).The statistics indicate that rape occurs more often than we know andplaces and we need to be aware and help.

Ageof Consented Sex

Sexualor marital consent in almost every state in the United States is 18years, although some states allow marriages between individuals below18 years under court or parental consent (NationalResearch Council, 2013).This dilemma creates exemptions for minors engaging in sexualrelations with their legal spouses, although they would be incapableof legally consenting to sexual intercourse. A good example is Iowawhich has put forward a law that exempts sex between adults and 12year olds, given that they are married either formally or informally(NationalResearch Council, 2013).

Figure1: Rape Victimizations against 18 to 24 Year Olds reported to Police,by Post-Secondary Enrollment Status between 1995 and 2013

Source:Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey,1995–2013

Accordingto Kennedy (2012), 15 to 20 percent of American women are raped whileothers claim that the prevalence has reduced 58 percent from1995-2010. The researcher maintains that the rate of sexual assaulton young women between 12 and 17 years reduced from 11.3 percent to1.4 percent between 1994 to 1998 and 2005 and 2010 respectively.Nevertheless, the majority of rape studies and reports focus on maleto female types of rapes and overlook male to male and female tofemale rapes. The reports and studies are founded on “forcedpenetration” and ignore situations where male victims are compelledto penetrate other individuals (Kennedy, 2013). Besides, the societydenies the fact that women can become sexual aggressors.Additionally, some critics argue that classifying “making a personto penetrate another” as rape instead of sexual assaults indicatesthat the occurrence of rape among male equals to that of females.

TheAmerican Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) performed a study in 2014that discovered that white males committed 63 percent of therecounted rapes against women between 18 to 24 years inpost-secondary registration (NationalResearch Council, 2013).Moreover, the NVWS (National Violence against Women Survey)discovered that about 34% of total respondents from the Indian-American descent had undergone or attempted rape in their lifetimefrom a non-Native rather than a Native. In another study conducted itwas revealed that about 13% of lesbians, 46% of bisexual women and17% of heterosexual women were stalk, rape or physical assaultvictims (NationalResearch Council, 2013).

Table2: Rapeand Sexual Assault Victimizations against Females, by VictimCharacteristics, 1994–1998, 1999–2004, and 2005–2010

Rate per 1,000 Females Ages 12 or Older

Victim Characteristic





















65 or older

















American Indian/Alaska Native




Asian/Pacific Islander




Two or More Races




Marital Status

Never Married
















Household Income

Less than $25,000








$50,000 or more








Location of Residence













Source:Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey,1994–2010.


Althoughrape incidences in America have reduced over the years, they happenmore often than people know. For example, rape has become the mostcommon offense on campuses in the country. According to Courtney,Allen and Travis (2012), most people are raped by acquaintances thanby strangers while in college. Besides, rape victims do not reportwhen sexually assaulted by acquaintances unlike when raped bystrangers who use force and weapons. Moreover, Courtney et al. (2012)reveal that 90 percent of rape victims recognize their offender to bemainly a boyfriend, friend, former boyfriend or classmate.

Manyacquaintance rapes take place on parties or by studying together inthe dorms rather than dates (Courtney et al., 2012). Besides, alcoholmay augment the possibility of rape. When a study group has more thanone male student particularly in an environment with alcohol, thewill behave sexually aggressive towards the female students. Somestudies deem that college men identify women who cannot defendthemselves or target those whose conduct (for example, bingedrinking) decreases their credibility. Nevertheless, date rapesconstitute 13% of college rapes and account for 35% of attemptedrapes (Courtney et al., 2012). Additionally, college female studentsalso experience gang rapes whereby several men take turns sexuallyassaulting them.

Therape myth that being raped by a stranger is more destructive to thevictim than by an acquaintance made the legal system to overlookcreating legislation against marital and relationship rape (Suarezand Gadalla, 2010). Some scholars deem that victims of acquaintanceand stranger-rape experience similar psychological harms, such asreduced self-esteem, distrustfulness, shock, anxiety, sexualdysfunction, depression, shame, suicidal thoughts, social seclusionand fear of AIDS. Besides collage acquaintance rape victimsexperience additional consequences, such that they quit schoolbecause they meet their attackers within the school, cafeteria,class, dormitory, including other collage locations.

Feministsand researchers consider that rapists do not rape other peoplebecause they are psychotic, but because the culture produces andinstills beliefs regarding the role of women in those sexualcircumstances (Suarez and Gadalla, 2010). For example, the societyhas socialized most men to think that women primarily repel sexualadvances for reputation preservation. Moreover, the acknowledgment ofrape myths, sexual violence and sex role typecasting against womenfoster an environment that promotes the acknowledgement of rape andother forms of sexual assault.

Rapein Fraternities/Sororities

Recentresearch revealed an increase in male rape incidents amongfraternities (Courtney et al., 2012). Regardless of the extensiveknowledge concerning the involvement of fraternity members in rapecases in campuses, researchers rarely study them as organizations andcontext-groups that motivate the sexual oppression of women. Besides,these fraternities symbolize brotherhood, although their ideals ofbecoming a member are harmful to women as members are taught thatmanhood denotes being tough and violent. Besides, fraternities pursueathletic and competitive men, including those willing to consumealcohol. Partying and alcohol consumption constitute the social lifeof fraternity as well. Unfortunately, slender men and those who donot consume alcohol are rarely invited to join fraternities as theyare considered “geeks.” At the same time, the fraternityevaluates new members depending on the number of women they cancontact with sexually. For this reason, an inconsistent number ofknown gang rapes comprise of fraternity members. The prevalence ofrape by fraternity brothers stands at 300%. According to Courtney etal. (2012), women who join sororities are three times likely to getrapes than those who do not.

Courtneyet al. (2012) maintain that most college rapes go unreported.Although some of the victims tell their friends, sometimes femalevictims remain mum in fear that the offender may strike back.Therefore, the under reporting in campuses remains problematic sincemost of the victims do not report the crimes, hence making theoffenders go free.

Additionally,contemporary college rape prevention programs are inadequate for theyconcentrate on victims rather than offenders (Courtney et al., 2012).The fact that many rape incidents go unreported gives the police andcampus administrators a false notion that their efforts aresufficient. Additionally, campus administrators may influence campuspolice as they fear that focusing on an issue may cause potentialparents and students to believe that sexual assault and rape happensmore often in their institutions.


Theprevalence of rape in marriages remains high than people think. Thisform of rape is called marital. It denotes a form of rape that occurswhen a spouse performs non-consensual sex to the other spouse.Currently, 50 states in the United States identify marital rape asillegal while others treat these incidents differently. Despite thepresence of these laws, marital rape remains prevalent in thesociety.

Differentstates have different laws regarding marital rape. In Mississippi,sexual assault during their time of cohabitation by engaging insexual act against the victim’s will can lead to the conviction ofthe offender (Bellacket al., 2013). Nevertheless, this ignores, among others, incidentswhether the victim becomes &quotrendered incapable of knowing orcontrolling his or her conduct, or incapable of resisting an act dueto the influence of any drug, narcotic, anesthetic, or othersubstance administered to that person without his or her consent&quot(Finkelman, 2013).

InMaryland, a spouse can be prosecuted if he/she is suspected to haveused force or acted without the consent of his/her partner &quot(Bellacket al., 2013). On the contrary, Bellack et al. (2013) argue thatSection § 3-318 treats a raped spouse as a stranger.

InOklahoma, rape refers to the act sexual intercourse performed betweena male or a female who are married when force is applied to any ofthem with apparent power of execution (Kennedy, 2013). Therefore, amarital rape victim cannot report his/her spouse in Oklahoma if theaction occurred when he/she was under the influence of drugs andunconscious.

Virginiaoffers a different punishment to rape offenders. For example, theoffender can be allowed to undertake a therapy program if the victimand his/her attorney consent to replace the punishment. However, incases where the court foresees such a program to promote family unityand interest of the complainant, the offender is allowed to continuewith the program (Yllo and Torres, 2016).


Onemay think that a family member would protect them from sexual abuseor rape. However, some family members may engage in sexual activityeither willingly or unwillingly. Statistics shows that 46% of youngrape victims are sexually assaulted by family members. Moreover, mostrape victims in the US (61%) are raped even before reaching 18 years.

Anastonishing 29% of the forcible rapes happened when the victim wasbarely 11 years. Around 11% of rape victims become victimized bytheir step-fathers or actual fathers while 16% are sexually assaultedby other family members.

Accordingto Herman (2012), most male survivors of rape are exposed to seriousmental problems and drug abuse. Additionally, girls and women aremore likely to be raped than their male counterparts

Herman(2012) maintains that incest possesses lasting effects on thevictims. His study discovered that amongst the incest survivorsvictimized by their parents, especially mothers, 60% and 25% of thefemale and male victims respectively experienced eating disorders.Around two-thirds of the women feared visiting doctors or dentistsfor examination due to fear. Others experience PTSD (post-traumaticstress disorder), such as flashbacks, nightmares and amnesia.Additionally, children who are sexually assaulted by relativesundergo shame and guilt, reduced self-esteem, self-destructivebehavior (prostitution, substance abuse, and sexual promiscuity) anddepression compared to children who were raped by a stranger (Herman,2012).


Date/strangerrape incidents occur more often especially to women. Despite havingdifferent circumstances, date and stranger rapes entail similardespicable acts and the society should treat them with similarseverity. Date or stranger rape is orchestrated by a person known tothe victim or may have possibly been involved at some point in theirlives (Francis, 2010). However, that does not mean that date rape isacceptable. Nobody has the right to force another into any sexualactivity against their will. Sometimes, the society blames the rapevictim with some people claiming that the victim went to a party orupstairs with the offender willingly. Regardless, date rape remainsheinous, and any perpetrator should be severely punished.

Accordingto Francis (2010), most date rape critics do not view the act as acrime that requires punishment as it is preventable. It is true thata person can prevent being raped during a date by avoidingintoxicants during a party, but that does not mean that the offenderhad the right to take advantage of the victim. Other critics maintainthat women wear provocative dresses during dates, hence inviting theperpetrator. This is like having some mugged because he/she walkedhome at night. Regardless of their decision to put their lives atrisk, that does not justify the attacker or robber’s actions.

Howto Help Rape Victims

Rapevictims often ask questions like “did I deserve that?” or “wasit my fault?” Therefore, it is crucial for anyone close to them tolearn how to help without making them feel guilty. First, it iscrucial to listen by truly hearing them and gathering thoughts beforeuttering a word. Gathering your thoughts will allow you to processthat information and evade planning ahead what you will say.Secondly, it is crucial to remind the victim that he/she was at faultfor that incident to happen. Questions like “Were you intoxicated?”“Did you wear a short dress?” “Did you fight back?” or “Areyou telling the truth” among others should be avoided (Suarez andGadalla, 2010). Additionally, questions that put blame on the victimmust be avoided.

Avoidjudging the rape victim by asking questions in a sensitive manner.For example, you can say “I am asking you that question tounderstand what you went through, but that does not mean it was yourfault” Evade questions that begin with “why” to avoid passingjudgment. Lastly, it is crucial to offer helpful advice. For example,you can convince the rape victim to visit a gynecologist for amedical checkup to establish whether they contracted a disease ornot. However, it is important to do so cautiously to avoiddistressing the victim.

Inconclusion, the frequency of rape in America has declined over theyears. Regardless of the decline, the society grapples with the factthat a great number of women and men experience rape incidencesduring their lifetime. Rape is identified as the coerced sexualactivity against another person. Similarly, some states identify rapeas sexual contact with a person below 18 years. These incidents haveresulted in the introduction of laws to protect victims and preventtheir occurrence. Unfortunately, laws have not completely averted thecases as they occur more often than we know and places and we need tobe aware and help. Rape occurs in marriages, colleges, fraternities,dates, and among family members (incest). With the prevalence of rapein the society, it is important for friends and close relatives tohelp victims by listening, avoiding blames, being sensitive andoffering helpful advice.


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