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A teenage girl looking extremely distressed and covering her face with her hands

What is rape?

Rape is a crime. It is when one or more people force another person to have sexual intercourse against their will. It most often happens when a man rapes a woman, but a man/men can rape another man by anal intercourse, and women have very, very rarely been had up for raping a man. It can happen with someone you don't know or someone that you do know. The crucial thing is that you don't want it to happen.

A particular nasty form of rape is when someone spikes your drink with a drug that totally makes you forget what has happened and you find yourself in a strange place and don't know how you got there, but you are aware that someone has had sexual intercourse with you.

And date rape?

Is when you have a 'date' with someone, and they take you out, and then they assume that, in exchange for you being taken out - you will have sexual intercourse with them even if you do not want to.

What to do if you have been raped or think that you may have been raped.

Most police forces now run a special 'Rape Unit' with specially trained police officers, who are usually women, though if you are a man you can ask to be seen by a man. You should contact the unit immediately by dialling 999 and asking to be put through to them. Or you can google 'sexual assualt referral centre' and refer yourself to a specialist centre. Every area has a 'sexual assualt referral centre' - use google to find your local one and phone them up directly. You can go to your GP if you want to - but make sure you are seen on the same day - don't wait for an appointment a week later.

You will normally be seen in a special place called a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. It is usually very nice and relaxed and you will be seen by specially trained doctors and counsellors who deal with this sort of this every day. If you are under 16 the police have to be involved but it can all be kept totally confidential - your normal doctor doesn't have to know if you don't want them to. The important thing is you get the help you need.

You will need to be examined by a doctor and she/he will take samples form your vagina and/or anus. You MUST NOT WASH - even if you feel that you really, really want to - it is extremely important that they take specimens from you including from your vaginal area, as the man's sperm can be examined and identified as coming from him. If you wash, you wash the sperm away.

What will happen after you have contacted the Rape Unit or your own doctor?

They will talk to you and take a statement about what has happened. They will need to examine your vagina/anus and take specimens, and advise you about how to make sure that you do not get pregnant. They will also check out to make sure that you have not got any sexually transmitted disease, and if you have then they will arrange for treatment. They will arrange counselling for you.

The rape unit (police) will discuss about bringing a charge against the man and how best to succeed in bringing him to courts and getting a criminal charge against him. You don't have to get involved in a court situation. People are often scared about getting someone they know into trouble. You may feel it is your fault and can't face standing up in court saying what happened. Don't worry about all of this - you don't have to press charges. What is really really important is that you get the help you need.