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sexual assault or abuse; sexual intercourse (vaginal or anal penetration) against the will and without the consent of the individual. The crime of rape continues to occur at an alarming rate. Many cases are not reported by victims because of feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or fear. Most rape victims are girls or women, although rape or sexual assault can also occur between men (homosexual rape). 

Immediately after the crime of rape has occurred, victims should be calmed as much as possible and assured that they are safe. Any bleeding wounds, fractures, or other existing injuries should be treated. They should be encouraged to obtain treatment as soon as possible and not to change clothes, bathe, douche, or urinate because that could destroy legal evidence needed to arrest and convict the attacker.

Rape is a physical and psychological emergency, and the victim must be treated with compassion as well as professional competence. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has provided guidelines for the physical care of a rape victim, identifying a twofold purpose for the physical examination: (1) to protect the victim against disease, pregnancy, and psychological trauma, and (2) to aid in the collection of legal evidence that could be used later in court.

Many hospitals have on call a rape counselor who can stay with the victim through emergency treatment and provide guidance and referral to a follow-up program of care. Recovery from rape is a difficult task. Some victims may appear to return to normal rather quickly, when in fact they are using temporary psychological mechanisms such as denial, suppression, and rationalization. Crisis intervention through all phases of the recovery period is a necessary component of the total care of a rape victim. The main purposes of follow-up are to keep channels of communication open to victims, assess their coping skills, to offer support and encouragement in efforts to resume life, and to provide assistance and referral if necessary. Rape is a crime of violence in which the sexual act is secondary to the brutality of the attack.

The American College of Emergency Physicians has published a consensus document called Evaluation and Management of the Sexually Assaulted or Abused Patient. It is available from ACEP Sales and Service, P.O. Box 619911, Dallas TX 75261-9911 or on their web site at http://www.acep.org. They can also be reached by telephone at 1-800-798-1822, ext. 6. A review of informative materials for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted, and practice guidelines for care, is available from the National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, whose web site is http://www.vawprevention.org.
acquaintance rape (date rape) rape by someone known to the victim.
rape-trauma syndrome
1. a group of symptoms caused by, or that are responses to, rape.
2. a nursing diagnosis approved by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, defined as a sustained maladaptative response to a forced, violent sexual penetration against the victim's will and consent. It includes an acute phase of disorganization of the victim's lifestyle, followed by a long-term phase of reorganization of lifestyle. Characteristics in the acute phase may include emotional reactions such as anger, humiliation, revenge, and self-blame, and multiple physical symptoms. In the long-term phase the victim must cope with changes in lifestyle that could include moving to another residence, changing telephone number, dealing with recurrent nightmares and phobias, and seeking support from individuals and groups.

There may also be either a compound reaction or a silent reaction. The nursing diagnosis rape trauma syndrome: compound reaction is identified as an acute stress reaction to a rape or attempted rape, experienced along with other major stressors that can include reactivation of symptoms of a previous condition. The victim suffers from the emotional and physiological manifestations listed above and may also resort to reliance on drugs or alcohol and experience reactivated symptoms of preexisting physical or psychiatric illnesses. The nursing diagnosis rape trauma syndrome: silent reaction is identified as a complex stress reaction to a rape in which an individual is unable to describe or discuss the rape. Characteristics can include sudden changes in relationships with men and in sexual behavior, increasing anxiety during interview, silence about the rape incident, and sudden onset of phobic reactions.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. Sexual intercourse by force, duress, intimidation, or without legal consent (as with a minor).
2. The performance of such an act.
[L. rapio, to seize, to drag away]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


a. The crime of using force or the threat of force to compel a person to submit to sexual intercourse.
b. The crime of using force or threat of force to compel a person to submit to some other sexual penetration.
c. Other unlawful sexual intercourse or penetration, as with an unconscious person or person below the age of or incapable of consent.
d. An instance of any of these crimes.
2. The act of seizing and carrying off by force; abduction: the rape of Europa by Zeus.
3. The act of pillaging or plundering: the rape of the city by the invaders.
4. Abusive or improper treatment; spoiling or abuse: the rape of the land by polluters.
tr.v. raped, raping, rapes
1. To use force or threat of force to compel (another person) to submit to sexual intercourse or other sexual penetration.
2. To seize and carry off by force.
3. To plunder or pillage.
4. To treat improperly; abuse or spoil.

rap′er n.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Forensic medicine An unlawful, nonconsensual act of sexual intercourse carried out by force or other forms of duress. See Date rape, Prison rape, Rape-trauma syndrome, Rohypnol, Spousal rape, Statutory rape.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Sexual intercourse by force, duress, intimidation, or without legal consent (as with a minor).
2. The performance of such an act.
[L. rapio, to seize, to drag away]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Sexual intercourse with a woman who does not, at the time, consent to it, or who is asleep, and would not have given consent, or unconscious. It is rape if consent was obtained by fraud or threats or if physical force was used to effect intercourse against the woman's will. The man must know that the woman does not consent. It is also rape if the woman is incapable of understanding what she is consenting to. Some degree of vaginal penetration, however slight, is necessary. Marriage is no defence to rape. Rape of a man, by a man, is a defined offence in many American States.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005

Patient discussion about rape

Q. My friend Lidia was almost raped what can she do?

A. Mimi, I agree with both two answers above, and it's great if you can accompany her for a while, show her your full support, so that she can pass through her difficult situation.

Reporting it will be a positive action, but in medical point of view, I will suggest to take her to see a doctor just to check her physical condition, and maybe also some psychiatrist to help her cope that stressful condition. your being a close friend will surely give her a comforting protection.

Good luck!

More discussions about rape
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References in periodicals archive ?
Police arrested an Army man, Mandrish Tripathi, who had allegedly forced the girl to take alcohol and then raped her with her other colleagues.
JULY 11, 2002: Six hours later, a woman, 26, is raped on Putney Common, South London.
I am over violence against women not being a #1 international priority when one out of three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime - the destruction and muting and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.
At the time of that study, some 1 million Italian women between the ages of 16 and 70 said they had been raped.
Focus group participants made comments like "No one would say that" to items such as "Many women secretly desire to be raped" and "Many women find being forced to have sex very arousing." Both of those items are typical of items on the She Wanted It subscale.
The Gallup survey results add to statistics from Interpol estimating that a woman is raped every 17 seconds in South Africa, and that one in every two women will be raped in their lives in the country.
28% said they had raped a woman or girl, and 3% had raped a man or boy.
The lawyer admits her clients abducted and raped a woman against her will but claims the boys were young and just looking for some fun and therefore should be declared innocent.
An illegal immigrant named Maximiliano Esparza "raped and sodomized two nuns and used their rosary beads to control them during the attack.
On college campuses, 85 percent of women who report being raped knew their attacker.
Yet this could be just the tip of the iceberg because some experts believe that only seven per cent of women who are raped report it to the police.
Calling the Ghosts makes clear that the women in the Omarska death camp were imprisoned, tortured, and raped because of their ethnicity.