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For the domesticated crop plant called "rape," see rapeseed.
For responding to rape as a medical emergency, see sexual assault.
For the former administrative division of Sussex, see Rape (district).

Rape is a crime of violently forcing another into sexual activity against their will. It is regarded among the most grievous of crimes.

Some dictionary definitions of the word rape include any serious and destructive assault against a person or community, but this article focuses primarily on sexual assault.


Archaic and extended definitions

The original definition of rape was not necessarily sexual. Before it was considered a sexual act it was an act or instance of robbing or despoiling or carrying away a person by force - for example, Vikingsof old would rape towns and villages, taking some of the women and children away with their treasure. This practice was common in the ancient world among warriors seeking mates and servants to found new communities. This is the meaning of the word in art and literature depicting the "Rape of the Sabine Women" or the "Rape of Helen". In this context no distinction is made between willing and unwilling participation on the part of the women, which is central to the modern usage.

In other archaic uses the word is used to mean the violation of a person in a minor sense, for instance, Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. The original meaning also persists in usages to refer to the brutal violation of something non-human, as in the 'rape of the environment' or the Rape of Nanking, which refers to the violation of the town, including both its people and its buildings.

Common law in the United States

In United States common law, rape was traditionally the felony of sexual intercourse with a woman by a man who was not her husband, without the woman's consent. Today, criminal law often recognizes the offense may include acts other than intercourse, and the marriage exception no longer applies. Some jurisdictions no longer use the term "rape", employing broader categories of sexual assault orsexual battery.

Some define rape as sexual assault with penetration.

Statutory rape

Rape can also refer to sexual acts with a consenting person that the law defines as incapable of rendering effective consent, including those under a specified age; this is often called statutory rape.

Date rape

Colloquially, the term date rape or acquaintance rape refers to rape that occurs between individuals who are dating or are acquaintances.


Hypnotic (sleep-inducing) so-called date rape drugs such as flunitrazepam or GHB have also been used by rapists to render their victims unconscious before raping them. In the United States, theUniform Crime Reports use forcible rape to refer only to rapes against females, by males; however other jurisdictions can define rape to include sexual assaults on, and by, members of either sex. Laws can vary greatly by jurisdictions. Distinctions include age of consent, extent of sexual conduct required, when consent is effective and when it may be revoked, and whether evidence of a victim's sexual proclivity may be admitted at trial.

Rapist profiles

Dr. A. Nicholas Groth, author of Men Who Rape: The Psychology of the Offender, described four types of rapists, based on their motivations and behavior patterns. United States federal and state law enforcement use these categories to prevent rapes and catch rapists.

• The power-assertive rapist: This is arguably the most common type of rapist and responsible for most date rapes. This individual tends to be athletic and macho and usually meets his victims in places like bars, though he can also con his way into a victim's home by posing as a police officer or repairman. He is physically aggressive enough to control his victim but does not intend to kill. He likes to degrade and traumatize his victims. His motive is opportunity based, meaning he does not specifically single out victims. This person usually has average or above average intelligence and usually has the presence of mind to avoid leaving evidence and does not take trophies. This type statistically accounts for approximately 40 percent of all rapes.

• The power-reassurance rapist: This individual lacks the social skills to develop relationships with women. He is not athletic or aggressive. Unlike the type mentioned above, this type actually does select and stalk his victim. Usually his victim lives or works within the same area he lives or works. He may try to engage in a fantasy by forcing his victim to emulate foreplay. He usually does not leave evidence but he may take trophies of his "conquests" and may even record them in a diary. This person usually has normal intelligence. It is often found that this individual has conscious doubts of his masculinity. This is the least violent type of rapist and does not intend to injure or kill his victim. Law officers sometimes call him the "gentleman rapist". He has a complex fantasy of a consensual relationship with a woman. This type statistically accounts for approximately 27.5 percent of all rapes.

• Anger-retaliatory rapist: This individual is often a substance abuser and is characterized by impulsive behavior and an explosive temper. Like the power-assertive type his motive is based on opportunity and he does not typically single out specific victims. This individual feels animosity toward women in general and his attack is typically spontaneous and brutal. Though this attacker does not aim to kill his victim, he may beat the victim to death should she resist or fail to escape. This rapist is one of the most likely to leave evidence at the scene of the crime, and typically has below average intelligence. This type statistically accounts for approximately 28 percent of all rapes.

• The anger-excitation rapist: This is the most dangerous and elusive type of rapist. He is usually charming and intelligent, capable of planning the abduction and concealment of his victims. His motive may be selective or opportunity based. Once he has control of a victim, it is very unlikely that she will escape with her life. He is sadistic and after days of torture he may kill his victim to prevent the woman from identifying him, or for his sexual gratification. This type accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of all rapes.

Gang rape

Gang-rape (also known as "pack rape" or "gang bang") occurs when a group of people participates in the rape of a single victim. It is far more damaging for the victim, and in some jurisdictions is punished more severely than rape by one person. "Gang bang" is also a slang term for consensual group sex.

According to Roy Hazelwood, a profiler of sexual crimes, "[Gang rape] involves three or more offenders and you always have a leader and a reluctant participant. Those are extremely violent, and what you find is that they're playing for each other's approval. It gets into a pack mentality and can be horrendous."

Statutory rape

Statutory rape refers to the crime of sexual intercourse with someone under the age of consent but older than the maximum age for the act to be considered child molestation.

This term is primarily used in the United States. It is so named because it is considered to be rape under a specific statute rather than under the principles of criminal common law. Because the state has an interest in protecting minor children, it declares that children under a certain age are not able to give informed consent. Thus even if a child agrees to sexual activity, it is still considered to be rape.

State laws vary widely in their definitions of statutory rape; some states make exceptions when the perpetrator is also young, or if he or she marries the minor before the act of sexual intercourse or before being convicted of the crime. Due to a wide variety of opinions on what the proper age of consent should be, statutory rape charges can be controversial.

In the past, cases of statutory rape involving an adult female and a younger male were often ignored by the law, as many believed that this was actually a desirable experience for young boys. However, in recent years, the situation has been changing, and there have been a number of high profile cases where adult women have been prosecuted for establishing sexual relationships with young boys.

Acquaintance rape

In many jurisdictions, there is no legal distinction between rape by a stranger and rape which takes place between acquaintances, friends or lovers. There is often more difficulty in securing conviction against a known assailant.

Socially, the issue of acquaintance rape (also known as "date rape") is contentious. Some evidence suggests that a rape victim is far more likely to know their assailant than not.


There is considerable debate as to what constitutes proper and complete consent in a sexual relationship. How explicit consent should be, how frequently it needs to be established, and what constitutes diminished capacity (usually due to drugs or alcohol) are all subjects of some disagreement. These debates take place both on moral and ethical grounds, and as a legal issue, since rape can only be convicted as a crime with intent in many jurisdictions, and the erroneous belief of consent is a common defense.

Sexual abuse

The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see its talk page.

Sexual abuse is physical or psychological abuse that involves sexual behavior. Most forms of sexual abuse are crimes in most countries. Forms of sexual abuse include rape, indecent assault andindecent exposure.

Women and children are the most frequent victims of sexual abuse, but men can also suffer from it. Most sexual abusers are male, but there is a significant minority of female sexual abusers.

Sexual abuse is non-consensual, and should be distinguished from consensual sex, or activities such as BDSM. Many activities which are acceptable between consenting partners would constitute sexual abuse if forced on a non-consenting person. It should be noted that people under the age of consentare presumed to be unable to give consent to any form of sexual activity.

Use of the term

In common use, the term "sexual abuse" is sometimes used interchangeably with sexual offense, which means sexual activities that are prosecuted by law. Often it also refers to activities that aremorally condemned in society. These are ambiguous definitions, because moral norms, socially accepted behaviour and laws vary greatly both nationally and internationally and because the definition is too wide to be useful.

Spousal Abuse

Spousal abuse is the term applied to physical or sexual abuse perpetuated by one spouse upon another. The term was coined in the late 1970's when such crimes were given wider attention in society. There are separate legalities and punishments applied to such a crime as opposed to random assault or assaults of another nature.

Most reported cases of spousal abuse involve violence by men against women. However, there are a significant minority of cases involving violence by women against men, violence by same-sex partners or where both parties act out violently against one another. Men tend not to report spousal abuse at the same rate as women; partly because they diminish the impact themselves and partly because society, media, police and courts also tend to diminish its impact.

Dr Martin Fiebert, from the Department of Psychology of California State University, has compiled an annotated bibliograhy of research relating to by women. This bibliography examines 155 scholarly investigations: 126 empirical studies and 29 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 116,000.

Child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse [CSA] denotes sexual abuse of or sexual activity with children. The term has both moral and legal connotations. There is variation in criteria and specificity of the definition of "child sexual abuse", as with "sexual abuse", even in scientific literature.


Child sexual abuse is a criminal offense everywhere, although the range of activities that are prosecuted varies between countries. Child sexual abuse is more difficult to define than sexual abuse in general, because of debates over who is capable of giving consent. In addition to activities which would be considered sexual abuse between adults, this often includes
• sex between adults (generally older than a predefined age of majority) and children below a predefined age of consent (generally between 12 and 18 years)
• acting as a pimp for child prostitution (including a parent acting as a pimp)
• inducing a child to behave sexually in a performance, or to appear in child pornography
• lewd action towards children.

According to United States law, for instance, children can only give simple but not informed consentto sexual activity. A major who performs sexual acts with a minor is guilty of statutory rape (or sex without consent when the child is very young). A minor can similarly not give informed consent to another minor; two minors engaging in sexual activity have both been victims of sexual abuse. However cases in which both participants are minors are typically not prosecuted.

Criticism of the definition

Some researchers such as Rind contend that this grouping of all sexual activity with minors with other forms of abuse makes it difficult to study the effects of abuse on children. Others claim that a distinction should be made between severe sexual abuse that is often associated with suicidal tendencies, sexual aggression, and self-mutilation (Kisiel and Lyons, 2001) and other types of CSA that do not necessarily have these severe negative effects.

Critics of outlawing sex with children, especially pedophile emancipation groups, disagree with labelling all child sexual activity as abuse and object to the use of terms victim and perpetrator when talking about consensual acts. Many pedophiles doubt that there is scientific evidence thatconsensual sexual activity causes harm to minors and argue that child sexual abuse is considered a crime solely because of sexual morality. Rind et al. (1998) stated that "CSA does not cause intense harm on a pervasive basis". Some further argue that denying a child the right to give informed consent ignores his/her right to 'sexual self-determination'.

Effects of sexual abuse on children

A wide range of psychological, emotional, physical, and social effects has been attributed to child sexual abuse, including "anxiety, depression, obsession, compulsion, grief, post-traumatic reactions, poor self perception, sexual dysfunction, social dysfunction, dysfunction of relationships, poor education and employment records, and a range of physical symptoms" (Smith et al., 1995). There is a debate about how best to determine the causal dependency for some of these effects. A controversial study of child sexual abuse, Rind et al. (1998), found the confounding variable of poor family environment as a plausible cause for the majority of negative effects. Children with such a background are more likely to become victims of abusers.

The percentage of adults suffering from long-term effects is unknown. Smith quotes a British study that showed that 13% of adults sexually abused as children suffered from long-term consequences.

Wakefield and Underwager (1991) note the difference between CSA experiences of boys and girls, where more boys than girls report the experience as neutral or positive, saying that "It may be that women perceive such experiences as sexual violation, while men perceive them as sexual initiation."

Child sex offenders

Most offenders are situational offenders (pseudopedophiles) rather than people sexually fixated on children (pedophiles). They are rarely strangers, but instead relatives or acquaintances like trainers or playmates. Most offenders are male, the number of female perpetrators is usually reported to be between 10% and 20%, however in some studies it was found to be as high as 70%.


There are two main categories of offenders. These categories are known as the "regressed" offender and the "fixated" offender.

The regressed offender has a primary sexual orientation toward adults, but can be aroused by children. In most cases he is heterosexual. The sexual interest in children typically manifests itself in adulthood in this sort of offender. "Due to an inability to maintain adult relationships the offendersubstitutes a child for an adult sexual partner". The initial offense is often not planned and often alcohol related. The regressed pedophile is typically capable of a traditional life-style and often married. Social skills of the regressed offender are basically normal but with under developed peer relationships. The regressed offender typically has no problem making acquaintances or socializing with others, but is not capable of handling the responsibility of long-term relationships. This behavior is a maladaptive attempt to cope with specific life stresses.

The fixated offender has a primary sexual orientation toward children, i. e. he is a pedophile. The sexual interest in children manifests itself in adolescence for this offender. The offenses are typically planned out ahead of time and are not alcohol or drug related. The fixated pedophile has behavior that is characterized as a lack of maturity and this offender has difficulty with adult sexual and social relationships. "This offender identifies with children, in other words considers him or herself to be like a child and thus seeks sexual relationships with what the offender perceives to be other children". The fixated offender is often interested in the same activities and interests as the young children who are the offender's victims. Such offenders often collect articles related to small children (clothing, children's books), even if they do not have children. This behavior has been interpreted as amaladaptive resolution to issues with adult maturity. Most fixated offenders prefer members of the same sex.

The great majority of offenders are regressed. Only 2-10 percent of all offenders are fixated. The third and very rare type of offender is sadistic. They primarily use sexuality for suppression not for sexual satisfaction.

Exhibitionists are commonly classified as a phenomenon of their own, and excluded from this typology of sex offenders.

"Children who molest"

Some therapists noticed that many adult sex offenders showed what they considered deviant sexual behavior in their childhood already. So they promoted early treatment of deviant minors as a preventive measure. However there is still little known about normal as opposed to deviant child sexuality. It is also unknown whether so called deviant minors have a higher risk of becoming an adult sex offender than anybody else.

The US started to focus on "juvenile sex offenders" or even children for therapy or detention perhaps in the early 1990s. The label "juvenile sex offender" is controversial because it is not only used to describe acts of violence, but also consensual acts that violate statutory rape laws; critics of this trend view many such children as simply engaging in sexually experimentation. They also criticize the law for forcing arbitrary classification of such pairs of offenders into victim and perpetrator.

Therapies used on children have included controversial methods historically used in the "treatment" of homosexuals such as aversion therapy, where children are, for example, forced to smell ammonia while looking at nude pictures or to listen to audio tapes describing sexual situations. In order to measure sexual response, devices like penile plethysmographs and vaginal photoplethysmographsare sometimes used on these children.

Variation in cultural norms

Though few doubt that child sexual abuse has negative effects on the children involved, there is controversy over what constitutes abuse. Critics often focus on rituals practised in cultures geographically or temporally removed from their own. In many cases, rituals or ceremonies of cultural or religious significance involve activities that others would describe as child sexual abuse. These include castration, circumcision (of males), female circumcision, spanking of children, infibulation, and cutting and bleeding of the genitals.

The various "remedies" against masturbation which were proposed and used from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, ranging from physical restraints to castration, have been called sexual abuse.

In ancient Greece, pederasty (sexual relationships between adolescent boys and adult men) was an important part of life, sanctioned by the state and sanctified by religion.

Variations across studies

Some researchers note that the lack of a generally accepted definition leads to incompatible study findings and wrong generalisations, when different phenomena are often lumped together as if they had similar causes and results. Rind et al. has criticised the term "child sexual abuse" as being "of questionable scientific validity", arguing that scientists should not deal with such vaguely defined fields, but instead concentrate on specific phenomena that can be observed empirically and clearly defined. Okami (1990) criticises current research on adult-child sexual behavior and notes that "much of the current victimology-based research employs polemical devices and research methods that blur the line between social science and social criticism".

For decades there has been debate on the prevalence of child sexual abuse. The research has suffered from lack of common methodology, unclear definitions, use of questionable techniques for retrospective studies, such as memory recovery (see false memories), bias, unjustified presumptions and other factors. Goldman (2000) notes that "the absolute number of children being sexually abused each year has been almost impossible to ascertain" and that "there does not seem to be agreement on the rate of children being sexually abused". A meta-analytic study by Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman (1998) found that reported prevalence of abuse for males ranged from 3% to 37%, and for females from 8% to 71% with mean rates of 17% and 28% respectively. A study by Fromuth and Burkhart (1987) found that depending upon the definition of CSA used, prevalence among men varied from 4% to 24%.

Semantics and society

Child sexual abuse is regarded as particularly reprehensible in many modern societies. The attitudes towards various sexual activities also vary between countries. For example, in many countries children and adults going to saunas or public baths together is acceptable. In Japan activities such as groping schoolgirls in trains are tolerated to some degree. Child prostitution is tolerated in some societies as a way for children to support their families.

Visit Wikipedia to further review or edit the terminology for this word.

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