There are different kinds of rape including:
- Stranger rape — perpetuated by someone the victim doesn't know
- Acquaintance rape — although the attacker is not a close friend or relative, the victim knows the attacker
- Date rape — the victim was dating the person who rapes her (sometimes the perpetrator introduces a mind altering substance into the victim's drink without the victim's knowledge)
- Marital, spousal, or wife rape — the victim is raped by the victim's spouse or ex-spouse
- Multiple rape or gang rape — the victim is raped by more than one person
- Statutory rape — sexual intercourse with someone below the statutory age of consent (in most states, the statutory age of consent, or the age by which someone is legally able to grant approval of a sexual act done or proposed by another, is 18 years of age)
Some states, however, also include homosexual rape, incest, and other sex offenses in their legal definition of rape.
But according to Dean G. Kilpatrick, PhD of the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center (NVAWPRC), rape is the most underreported crime in America, so the number of actual rapes is probably significantly higher. The reason rapes are underreported is that rape victims often fear facing their attackers in court. Rape victims may also feel shame and fear of rejection by loved ones or acquaintances, or retaliation by their attacker.
So rather than relying on reported cases, the DOJ recently asked women directly for the first time. When the survey's results were released in August 2008, the DOJ doubled its estimates. But some experts contend that some victims will not admit they were raped even when asked confidentially, and that the incidence of rape continues to be underestimated.
Studies have revealed that about half of all rapists are less than 25 years old and that sexual offenses are often associated with drug and alcohol abuse. But what most compels the need for more rapes to be reported is the shocking reality that most rapists are known to their victims and that rapists rape an average of ten times before they are caught!
Victims of rape react differently to the shock and trauma that follows a rape. And one certainly should not blame a rape victim for choosing not to report the incident. For psychological reasons, not all victims of rape can or necessarily even should report the sexual assault. But it bears considering that failure to report a rape is likely to result in others getting hurt, or in the rapist returning to hurt again the victim who failed to make the report in the first place.
If you are the victim of a rape and choose to do something about it, do not wash or douche after the assault. Report the incident to the police and then go to the hospital and request a "rape kit". The doctor will look for any blood, strands of hair, skin, or torn clothing that may have been transferred to you by your attacker. Any specimens collected can then be tested and used as evidence to convict your attacker and prevent him from hurting you again or hurting others.
The psychological ramifications resulting from the trauma of a sexual assault may be long term and difficult to attribute to the trauma. It may be advisable to seek therapy or join a support group. But you should also consider consulting a qualified personal injury attorney who can apprise you of your legal rights and of any additional civil recourse you may be able to pursue.