Rape and Sexual Assault

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Definition of Rape and Sexual Assault

The FBI defines rape and sexual assault the following way: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim” (Frequently Asked Questions about the Change in the UCR Definition of Rape, 2014). This definition is new and it was developed and approved not so long ago due to the fact that the previous definition of rape was too general and did not include a large variety of ways of sexual assault known today. Overall, rape is defined as sexual intercourse forced on a victim by the offender, which includes both hetero and homosexual intercourse with male and female victims. Besides, the experts also distinguish attempted rape which includes threats delivered verbally. Sexual assault refers to a variety of victimizations involving attacks resulting in forced sexual contact separate from rape (Rape and Sexual Assault, 2015). Sexual assault includes touching, fondling, and grabbing, and may also involve threats.

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Dynamics of Rape in the USA

About 293000 people are sexually assaulted in the United States of America every year (Statistics, 2009). In other words, a new case of rape or sexual assault occurs every two minutes. Around 44% of the victims of sexual assault and rape are younger than 18, and 80% are younger than 30. Besides, most of the cases of rape and sexual assault remain unreported, this way, 98% of rapists will never be arrested and imprisoned (Statistics, 2009). The dynamics among the offenders are shocking. For example, four out of five assaults are committed by a person known to the victim. Overall, almost half of all rape cases in the United States involve a friend or an acquaintance of a victim as an offender. Rape also has seasonal dynamics. For example, the rates of sexual assault and rape in summer are times higher than those of winter and fall.

Social and Cultural Factors

In terms of social and cultural factors that affect the rates of rape and sexual assault, there is an ongoing argument concerning the fault of the so-called “rape culture” of our society. The term “rape culture” means that according to certain social norms rape is pervasive in a society and in some cases is treated as normal behavior. For quite a long time women have been taught about the techniques they could use to avoid victimization. For example, they were told to dress appropriately, watch the way they act, and talk to men not to provoke the sexual assault. Jalloul (2013) notes that this kind of attitude towards sexual assault causes implies that the offenders are not the ones at fault and that they are provoked by the victims. Removing the fault from the offenders the society fails to recognize that rape is a choice, a rational solution of an offender and that instead of teaching the victims how to avoid getting raped, the society is to focus on the correction of the offenders’ behavior.

Personal Factors

There is a variety of factors that increase a victim’s chance to get raped as well as the offender’s chance to engage in sexual violence. One of the most serious factors that increase the rates of victimization is an age since the majority of assaulted individuals are young. Besides, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol is another factor that increases the chances of sexual violence for both victims and offenders (Sexual Violence, 2014). Poverty is one more serious personal and psychosocial factor since poor women are more vulnerable and get raped more often than those with a better income. Besides, many young men from poor districts participate in gangs, where sexual aggression is often considered a respectable factor raising the offender’s social position. Moreover, sexual violence and victimization can be learned behaviors if during childhood an individual witnessed sexual assault and rape in their own family. In such situations, a child grows up under an impression that sexual violence produced or received is a behavioral norm in a relationship (Sexual Violence, 2014).

Rape Prevention

Preventive measures for rape and sexual assault address the potential victims’ behavior and surroundings. The individuals are advised not to enter dangerous areas such as dark and unknown streets, deserted parts of the city, not to park in shady places, or stay isolated with strangers and people one does not trust. During social gatherings such as parties, one is advised to keep their drink close and avoid consuming too much alcohol, accepting drinks from unknown people, or leaving the party with strangers. Besides, it is better to attend such gatherings in a group of friends – the same refers to jogging or hitchhiking. Moreover, to avoid becoming a victim of rape one is to lock the doors and windows of their car and home while away to protect the properties from intruders. Finally, in a dangerous situation and when pressured into unwanted sexual activities one is advised to scream loudly, attract attention, blow a whistle or set off a personal alarm.

Reference List

Frequently Asked Questions about the Change in the UCR Definition of Rape. (2014). FBI. Web.

Jalloul, M. H. (2013). Professor Discusses Impact of Social Attitudes on Rape Culture. Web.

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Rape and Sexual Assault. (2015). BJS. Web.

Sexual Violence. (2014). World Report on Violence and Health. Web.

Statistics. (2009). RAINN. Web.

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