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I think I've been raped

If you are forced to have sex or someone has sex with you without your agreement (consent), this is rape.

Teenage girl in hoody

In England and Wales, the criminal definition of rape is when a man or boy forces his penis into a person's vagina, anus (bottom) or mouth. Both boys and girls can be raped.

If either a man or a woman has touched you in a sexual way that you do not agree to, then this is sexual assault. If you are being bullied in a sexual way, this is sexual harassment.

Both men and women can be offenders of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and these are very serious crimes.

Was it my fault?

No. Whatever the circumstances, nobody has the right to force you to have sex, or have sex with you without your agreement, so this is not your fault. But many young people are worried about reporting rape to the police because they:

  • have been drinking alcohol
  • have taken drugs
  • are the boyfriend or girlfriend of the person who attacked them
  • have had sex with that person before
  • had been kissing or touching that person before the attack
  • were with someone of the same sex (gay or lesbian relationship)
  • didn’t say ‘no’ or didn’t fight back
  • can’t really remember it properly
  • were somewhere they shouldn’t have been (such as at a party, bar, club or hotel)
  • have been in trouble with the police themselves
  • know the person who did it, and are worried that by reporting them it will affect family or friendships.

No matter what happened, the police will take it very seriously, and there are lots of organisations who can help you think about what you can do next.

What can I do?

You may be feel worried, sad, scared or angry, especially if you’re trying to deal with this all on your own. However, lots of people find that it can help if they talk to someone. Some things you can do are:

  • Tell an adult you trust – this could be a teacher, a family member, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation, so we have some tips on asking for help.
  • Think about reporting it to the police as soon as possible. If you are at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999. Rape and sexual offences are serious crimes, and as a young victim of a serious crime the Victims’ Code explains the enhanced support you should receive from the police and other agencies.
  • If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, and you are not sure if you want to report the crime to the police, you should think about going to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). They can give you a confidential forensic and medical examination, and can keep the forensic results until you make up your mind whether to report to the police or not. You can find your nearest SARC by looking on the NHS website.
  • If you are not happy about talking to the police or visiting your nearest SARC, you should still speak to a doctor or a nurse so that they can check that you are ok and give you any medical help.
  • With a safe adult, you could develop a safety plan that would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
  • Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult.

If you are worried about a friend, we have some tips on how you can start the conversation and get them the right help.

Your questions answered about rape

Can boys and men be raped?

Yes, boys and men can be sexually assaulted and raped. This could happen to gay or straight men, and isn’t about your sexuality. You can be sexually assaulted by a male or a female. It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean you are weak – often boys feel like they should be able to stop it because they are male. Sexual assault and rape is about the abuse of power. It is never your fault and the police will take it seriously.

If I was too drunk to say no, was it my fault?

It is never your fault. Nobody has a right to have sex with you without your agreement. If you were too drunk to give your agreement, then you were raped.

I think I was drugged, what can I do?

It’s important if you think you have been drugged that you get medical help as soon as possible. It is difficult to know what effect this is having on your body as everyone reacts differently. If you have also taken other drugs, or alcohol, these could react together so it’s important to be honest about what might be in your system. A nurse can do a urine test to find out exactly what drug you have taken and give you the right medical advice. An attacker may use a date rape drug to make you more vulnerable and stop you from remembering clearly what happened. It is not your fault, and the police will take this seriously.

If it’s my boyfriend or girlfriend, is it still rape?

Yes – nobody has a right to have sex with you without your agreement, even if you are in a relationship with them or have had sex with them before. If you are being forced to have sex or being sexually assaulted in your relationship, then this is relationship abuse.

Who can help me?

You&Co – you can talk to one of our support workers on a one-to-one basis, and we can offer you help and support. We can give you advice on how rape and sexual assault can affect you and how to cope with it, what to do and what to expect if you decide to report a crime to police, and how to move on from being a victim of crime. You can find out about the support available nearest to you on this website.

Rape Crisis – this organisation provides information and support for women and girls who have been raped or experienced sexual violence; call 0808 802 9999

Rape Crisis Scotland – provides information and support for anyone in Scotland who has been raped or experienced sexual violence; call 08088 01 03 02

ChildLine – ChildLine offer 24-hour support for young people, both on the phone and through online chats and message boards, on rape, sexual assault and a range of other issues; call 0800 1111

The Mix – this website provides information and support for 16-25 year olds on a whole range of issues, including rape and sexual assault as well as safe sexual relationships. Get confidential help by telephone, email, text or webchat, for young people under 25; call 0808 808 4994.

Asking for help

Are you thinking about reporting?