Was I Raped / Sexually Abused?

I didn’t resist physically – does that mean it isn’t rape?

I used to date the person who assaulted me – does that mean it isn’t rape?

I don’t remember the assault – does that mean it isn’t rape?

I was asleep or unconscious when it happened – does that mean it isn’t rape?

I was drunk or he was drunk – does that mean it isn’t rape?

I thought ‘no’ but didn’t say it – does that mean it isn’t rape?

What is Rape? 

Rape is penetration (however slight) of the mouth, anus or vagina with an object or the penis without consent. Not only woman can be the victim of a rape, a man can also be raped. Likewise, a woman or a man can commit a rape.

What is Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual contact that stops short of rape or attempted rape. Examples include:

  • Being made to look at pornography.
  • Being touched in a sexual way. This can involve touching of breasts or genital areas.
  • Being verbally assaulted, with inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.

Sexual abuse is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation, in the form of a sexual act, which is inflicted on someone without consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to participate in any sexual acts without their consent. So if a person knowingly touches another in a sexual manner, knowing that the victim is not consenting (or lacks the ability to consent) then sexual abuse has occurred.

Issue of Consent

Are the participants old enough to consent?

  • The ‘age of consent’ is the minimum age someone must be to have sex. People below this age are considered children and cannot legally agree to have sex. In other words, even if the child or teenager says yes, the law says no.
  • The age of consent is 17 years for both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse.
  • Sexual acts with anyone under the age of consent are illegal (except for 15-17 year old girls, who will not be criminalized for engaging in sexual intercourse). These are sexual intercourse, buggery, and aggravated sexual assault and 'section 4' rape.
  • The presence of consent is not a defence, however, the defendant can argue an honestly held belief that the child was over the age of consent.

Do both people have the capacity to consent?

  • The law also defines who has the mental and legal capacity to consent. Those with diminished capacity — for example, some people with disabilities, some elderly people and people who have been drugged or are unconscious — may not have the legal ability to agree to have sex.

Did both participants agree to take part?

  • Did someone use physical force to make you have sexual contact with him/her? Has someone threatened you to make you have intercourse with them? If so, it is rape.

Remember: It doesn’t matter if you think your partner means yes, or if you’ve already started having sex — ‘No’ also means ‘Stop’. If you proceed despite your partner’s expressed instruction to stop, you have not only violated basic codes of morality and decency, you may have also committed a crime.

We are Here to Help

If you have been raped or sexually abused, or even if you aren’t sure, contact Rape Crisis Midwest.

Freephone on 1800 311511 or email at info@rapecrisis.ie