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Is it rape if…?

If someone forces or pressures you (physically or otherwise) into any kind of sexual activity—after you’ve said no or were unable to tell that person no—then it’s rape or sexual assault. It’s rape, even if…

  • You know the person or are already in a relationship with the person.
  • You have already had any kind of sex or done other sexual things with this person.
  • You are fooling around with the person and either or both of you are turned on sexually.
  • You started to do something sexual and then changed your mind because it hurt, didn’t feel right, etc.
  • You were asleep.
  • You were drunk or high.
  • You were passed out.
  • The person has bought you gifts, taken you out to dinner or given you anything else.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

No means no. When you say no to any sexual suggestion or advance, the person should stop, immediately. If something is happening that you don’t want to happen, say, “No,” and, if possible, move physically away from the person. But also remember, that not saying no isn’t consent. Only saying “yes” is giving consent, and if you do not feel comfortable saying “no,” then “yes” has no meaning.

It is never the fault of the person who was raped or assaulted. Dressing a certain way does not mean that you “asked for it,” and it’s not true that people can’t control their sexual urges. There’s no excuse for disrespecting another person’s boundaries. Rape and assault are always the fault of the person who chose to violate another person.

Everyone has choices. People make all kinds of choices. When people are getting sexually excited and one person wants to stop, the other has two choices: respect the person’s wishes or keep pushing. Forcing another person into any kind of sex is sexual assault or rape, and it’s against the law.

You never have to do anything sexual you don’t want to do. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in a relationship with a person or how long you’ve known them. It doesn’t matter if you’ve already had sex. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the middle of something sexual already. If you don’t want to do something sexually, you have the right to say no. If someone doesn’t respect that limit, it’s rape or sexual assault.

If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, tell someone and get help. Go to a trusted adult—parent, teacher, counselor, clergy—or contact the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s (RAINN) 24-hour hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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