What is rape?

Rape, also called sexual assault, is any kind of sexual activity committed against someone's will. Whether the rapist uses force or threats of force is irrelevant. Rape, as a legal term, is defined slightly differently in each state. Most state laws define rape in terms of penetration with the use of force and without the person's consent. Penetration can be with the penis, fingers, or instruments like bottles or sticks. It can be perpetrated in the vagina, anus, or mouth. The National Violence Against Women Survey reports that almost 18 percent of women said they have been the victim of a completed or attempted rape at some point in their life, and most women were raped by someone they knew rather than a stranger. Rape can happen to women at any age, but girls and young women are particularly at risk.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

More About this Book

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

America's best-selling book on all aspects of women's health With more than four million copies sold, "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is "the" classic resource that women of all ages can turn to for...

Continue Learning about Relationship Abuse

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.