Why do people rape?

“Many people think that rape and sexual abuse is about the rapist trying to get sex. However, studies conducted with convicted rapists show that this isn’t the case. Research shows that men who sexually offend often do so to gain a sense of power and authority, while women sexually offend often to either maintain or establish an emotional relationship. Sexual activity is the means by which this is achieved, not the reason for the rape.”

Do people who have been offended against by a stranger experience different effects to those who have been sexually assaulted by someone close to them?

“Everybody reacts to rape or sexual abuse in their own way and in their own time. People who have been sexually assaulted by a stranger sometimes do have a different reaction to people who have been raped or sexually abused by somebody that they’ve already known. Feelings like lack of trust, feelings of betrayal, can be quite common if you’ve known the offender and you’ve had a relationship with them before. Regardless of whether you have been abused by a stranger or somebody that you know, your reactions are unique.”

What are the punishments for people who rape or sexually abuse?

“Punishments for sexual offenders can vary widely. Punishments include things like being sentenced to prison, being put on periodic detention, having to do community service or having to attend a treatment program for sexual offenders. The punishment can depend on such things as the age of the offender and how many times they’ve offended. It’s very rare that convicted sexual offenders get a maximum sentence for their crime.”

What happens if the person I tell doesn’t help to make it stop?

“If the abuse is still happening to you or you think that it might happen again, that is what we call a high-risk situation. If you’ve tried to tell someone and they haven’t listened, it is really important that you keep telling until somebody does. You have the absolute right to be safe, to be safe from abuse. If adults are not helping you to be safe, you might like to call the police, a sexual assault support agency like Rape Crisis, a teacher or a social worker and let them know what’s happened. Often people in these agencies can help you make abuse stop.”

My friend has been sexually assaulted – how do I know if they need my help?

“It’s great that you want to support your friend. If they’ve told you about their abuse, chances are they have already identified you as their support person so ask them what you can do to help. If you’ve heard about the abuse from someone else, but you’d still like to support your friend, let them know. You can start of by telling them that you know what happened and ask them how they are doing at the moment. There are lots of things you can do to help so check out what they need.”

Do people sexually abuse because it has happened to them when they were children?

“What we know from sexual offender treatment programs, is in fact that more offenders have experience emotional and physical abuse than sexual abuse. So, no, the answer is ‘no’ to this. Every person is responsible for whether or not they go on to offend. So it’s not something that people just have to live with.”