What Does It Mean to Dream of Rape?
A dream of rape, sexual assault, or sexual molestation can be troubling. Sometimes it is associated with a similar experience you have had in waking life.
If you have not had these specific experiences in waking life, however, they may still appear in your dreams if another situation causes you to feel a similar sense of powerlessness. While people who have suffered sexual trauma sometimes feel alone and isolated from others because not everyone has gone through what they have, the emotions associated with sexual trauma are normal human emotions that can arise for a variety of reasons.
Rape Dream Summary
Rape Dream Symbolism
Rape is different from other forms of physical attack in that it carries the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It also carries stigma associated with shame that people have about sex, sometimes to the point that the victim is blamed for having been raped.
If you have actually been raped or sexually assaulted, your dream could be processing that experience. People of all genders can be raped. Whatever the specific details of your situation were, it was not your fault that you were raped.
That it was not your fault is actually a big part of the reason why rape is upsetting – if it were your fault, there would be something you could do about it. When someone uses force to override your boundaries and rape you, though, there is nothing you can do about it.
Many situations in life can trigger similar feelings of powerlessness, so it is possible to have a dream of rape or sexual assault even if you have never been raped or sexually assaulted. Such a dream would often be symbolic of whatever else made you feel like you had been treated with a total lack of empathy.
Especially if you have not actually been raped or sexually assaulted, it is important to be careful about how you discuss your rape dream with others. It is easy for people who are new to the study of dreams to become so excited about what they are learning that they are tempted to broadcast every thought they have about every dream they have to everyone they know, but a rape dream is generally one that is best to not share widely, because people hearing about it might take it the wrong way.
Common Rape Dreams
- Dream of being a rape victim
- Dream of being sexually attacked
- Dream of being touched sexually
- Dream of being accused of a rape
- Dream of seeing rape
- Dream of being molested
- Dream of raping someone
- Dream of a friend being raped
Rape Dream Symbolism
Lack of Empathy
Someone who rapes another person is thinking only of their own needs and desires in the moment. They do not have empathy for the person they raped, in that they do not see the rape victim as a separate person with needs and desires of their own that matter.
If you dream of being raped, this could symbolize that you feel like someone in your life is treating you with a total lack of empathy, even if they are not touching you physically.
Someone who rapes another person believes they are entitled to use force to get what they want. Your dream of rape could symbolize a situation where someone is not following the usual processes to do something and is instead trying to bully their way through.
Dreaming of rape could alternately symbolize a situation where you are the one tempted to use force to get what you want. This may come as the result of frustration that you do not seem to be able to get your needs met by normal and reasonable means.
Boundaries in life can be as simple as the word “No.” In rape, however, your “No” is typically not enough to get the rapist to stop.
A rape dream could therefore symbolize a situation where someone is trampling boundaries, whether that is your personal “No” or the laws of the larger society. Alternately, you could be the one who is not respecting someone else’s boundaries.
People rely on boundaries such as the word “No” and the laws of society to keep order in life. When someone uses force to override boundaries, as in the case of rape, you feel powerless because whatever you would usually rely upon to make them stop does not work. Even appealing to the rapist’s sense of empathy does not work.
Dreaming of rape could therefore symbolize any situation where you feel totally powerless – where any technique you would normally use to resolve it somehow does not work.
Rape is humiliating for the victim in part because it typically involves private areas of their body being exposed to the rapist without their consent. A rape dream could therefore symbolize a situation where something you preferred to keep private was made public in a way you did not have control over.
In cultures where it is important to be a virgin until marriage and then have sex only with one’s spouse, a rape victim can be viewed as impure for having had sex outside marriage, even though the sex was not consensual. A rape dream could therefore symbolize a situation where your reputation seems to be permanently damaged, even if whatever led up to it was not really your fault.
Common Rape Dreams
Dream of being a rape victim
If you actually are a rape victim, your dream could be processing what happened to you. If you are not actually a rape victim in waking life, your dream of being a rape victim probably suggests that you feel like a victim in some other way.
Maybe whatever you are a victim of is something more subtle than rape, and your dream symbolizes that you wish for your suffering to be acknowledged in what you see as the way the more obvious suffering of a rape victim would be. (The actual experience of rape victims in this regard may be different from how it appears to you from afar, but dreams are often limited to some extent by the knowledge base of the dreamer.)
For example, the #MeToo movement raised awareness of sexual misconduct in the workplace, and many people who were victims of workplace sexual harassment got their long-deserved justice. If your workplace tormentor managed to cross every line imaginable except for that of sexual misconduct, however, nothing changed for you.
Dream of being sexually attacked
A dream of being sexually attacked is troubling in a way different from a dream of being shot or a dream of being stabbed, even though being shot or stabbed may be more likely to immediately kill you than a rape or other sexual attack.
One of the unique threats of a sexual attack is that it can cause pregnancy in a person who is capable of becoming pregnant. This would, of course, be an unplanned pregnancy, and it would be further complicated by the fact that the sperm came from the rapist.
A dream of a sexual attack could therefore symbolize that you have anxiety about the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy in general. Rape or a sexual attack can also spread sexually transmitted diseases, even if you are not capable of becoming pregnant, so your dream of a sexual attack could also symbolize that you have anxiety about the possibility of catching a sexually transmitted disease.
Even when you have a partner you feel comfortable with and can plan rationally with, sometimes it is not possible to have complete control over whether you become pregnant or catch a sexually transmitted disease. It might be easier for your subconscious mind to displace this anxiety onto an unfamiliar attacker in your dream, even if some of the worry is really about a partner you generally have good feelings toward.
Alternately, maybe your sex life is a little bit too comfortable and too planned and too rational. In some cases, a dream of being sexually attacked could symbolize a desire for more passion in your sex life. It may be easier for you to project this desire onto an attacker in your dream than to take responsibility for having such a desire yourself.
Dream of being touched sexually
If you are touched sexually, like if someone gropes your genitals with their hand, this is generally not associated with the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases that a penetrative sexual attack has. This touch could, however, still be troubling if it is unwanted, both in waking life and in a dream.
A dream of being touched sexually can be upsetting if the sexual touch comes from someone you did not want looking at you in a sexual way, like a family member or your employer. This dream could symbolize that there are boundary problems in your relationship with that person.
Such a dream does not necessarily mean that this person is sexually attracted to you. However, they may be inappropriately intimate with you in other ways, like telling you personal things that would be better left for their spouse or their therapist.
A dream of being touched sexually, like if the other person’s hand is sliding up your thigh, can be disturbing not only because of what you are actually experiencing in the moment, but also because you are afraid of what will happen next.
This dream could therefore symbolize that you feel like someone in your life is testing your boundaries in some way. They may not have escalated to a truly dangerous level yet, but you may need to take action to prevent that from happening.
Dream of being accused of a rape
Interpreting a dream of being accused of a rape might hinge on whether or not you think there is any truth to the accusation. If you know in the context of the dream that you are guilty, the dream could symbolize that you are worried about getting caught and punished for something you have done.
If you feel in the dream that the accusation is false, however, the dream could symbolize that you feel tragically misunderstood in your life. Maybe you did something with good intentions, and it did not turn out as you had hoped.
Dream of seeing rape
If you dreamed of seeing someone else get raped, what were you doing while it happened? Did you try to intervene, or did you stand by and watch?
If you tried to stop the rape in the dream, this could symbolize that you feel like you are involved in the pursuit of justice in your waking life. If you just watched it happen, however, this dream could symbolize that you feel guilty for being a bystander to some form of injustice.
Dream of being molested
Dreams of being molested often involve a component of feeling betrayed by an authority figure. The people who molest children are often people the children look up to and respect, like religious leaders, sports coaches, or family members.
Dream of being molested by an authority figure
If you were actually molested by an authority figure, processing that in your dreams is normal. If you did not have a physical experience of being molested, maybe your dream symbolizes that you feel betrayed or let down by the corresponding authority figure in some other crucial way.
Alternately, a dream of being molested by an authority figure could symbolize that this person or an institution they represent had poor boundaries with you emotionally, even if they never did anything physically inappropriate. Maybe they acted in a way that led you to believe that you were responsible for their well-being even though you did not have the power to ensure that.
Dream of being molested by a family member
Dreams about being molested by a family member can unfortunately reflect actual physical events in some cases. Even if no inappropriate physical contact ever took place, however, a dream of incestuous sexual abuse can be revealing of dysfunctional relationship dynamics within your family.
The Beheaded Goddess: Daughters of Narcissistic Fathers by Selma Nemer is an excellent description of a type of family dynamic where the marriage between the parents is weak, so the father turns to his daughter to get at least emotional satisfaction, making her into his surrogate spouse. While the daughter feels special getting her father’s attention, her development becomes stunted in other ways.
Situations of this sort can happen between parents and children of all gender combinations. A broader overview is given in The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life by Patricia Love and in Silently Seduced: When Parents Make Their Children Partners by Kenneth Adams.
Dream of raping someone
If you dreamed of raping someone, how did you feel when you did it? If you felt guilty while committing the rape in the dream, this could symbolize that you feel a lot of guilt over having what might even be a relatively common level of sexual desire.
The more guilt and shame you feel about your sexual desires, the more likely they are to explode out in a way that hurts someone. The more you can accept the desires that you have, even if you choose not to act on them, the less potential they have to cause harm.
If you felt proud while raping someone in your dream, this is a greater cause for concern. This could symbolize a situation where you achieved something significant that you wanted without considering the impact that it had on others.
If you dreamed of raping someone in an ambiguous situation, like you were not sure whether or not they were consenting to sex, and then it turned out that they were not, this could symbolize a situation where you feel that the boundaries of a relationship are unclear.
In such a relationship, you may be receiving mixed messages from the other person, but you can help yourself by asking clarifying questions instead of using assuming as a method of communication. Examples of good clarifying questions include, “What do you actually want me to do?” and “What would your ideal outcome look like?”
Dream of a friend being raped
If you have a dream about a friend being raped, in most cases, the dream is not a warning that you need to share with your friend in order to protect them from an imminent threat in waking life. Most of the time, you would be better off not telling your friend about such a dream, as it would only creep them out.
More likely the friend in your dream, especially if the friend is similar to you in age and gender, symbolizes some aspect of yourself that you feel is threatened.
Dreams of rape and sexual molestation can symbolize shame, guilt, and anxiety that people have about sexual issues. It is also common for people who have suffered rape and sexual molestation in waking life to have dreams about their traumatic experiences.
Often, however, rape dreams provide symbolic commentary on situations that do not have a sexual component in waking life. When someone has crossed every line but the sexual one in making you feel powerless, trampling your boundaries, and treating you with a total lack of empathy, your dreams can easily fill in the gap.