What Is RAINN?

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated August 18, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide or abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Free, private support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

If you are experiencing sexual abuse or have experienced assault, note that the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a hotline dedicated to supporting individuals experiencing sexual assault, harassment, or intimate partner violence. You can contact them anytime by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673) or using the online chat.

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is an anti-sexual violence organization founded in 1994. RAINN specializes in providing support for survivors of sexual assault and runs programs aimed at preventing sexual violence and bringing perpetrators to justice. In addition, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline. 

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RAINN's Programs

RAINN offers programs focused on survivor services, public education, public policy, and consulting. 

In the area of survivor services, RAINN offers the following:

  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline, available by phone and online
  • The DoD Safe Helpline for people of the Department of Defense community impacted by sexual assault
  • Technology and services for partners in the field
  • Training services for companies and organizations
  • Volunteer opportunities.

Below is a further explanation of the impact of RAINN's programs. 

National Sexual Assault Hotline

RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline with over 1000 local sexual assault service providers nationwide. The National Sexual Assault Hotline offers free 24/7 support for individuals affected by sexual assault. Individuals can call 800-656-HOPE (4673) or use the online hotline to connect with a trained support specialist. 

Since its founding, RAINN has helped 3.7 million survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones. As RAINN details, there are many different types of sexual violence, including: 

  • Sexual assault, such as attempted rape, unwanted sexual teaching, and forcing a person to perform sexual acts
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Sexual assault of men and boys and the stigma that often attaches to it
  • Intimate partner sexual violence 
  • Incest 
  • Drug-facilitated sexual assault

In some cases, other forms of violence may arise jointly, with multiple types co-occurring. RAINN is unique in that it specializes in helping survivors of sexual assault rather than solely domestic violence. It can also be a helpful resource for those who have witnessed the sexual assault or know someone who is going through it and are unsure what to do or how to help that person.


RAINN Day is an annual campaign that previously took place in September but now happens in April to align with Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM). The campaign aims to raise awareness of and educate people on sexual violence, intervention, and available domestic violence counseling centers on college campuses.

Possible Effects Of Sexual Violence

When sexual violence occurs, it can have a range of serious effects on the survivor. Some of the possible effects of sexual violence on a survivor can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), flashbacks to the trauma, substance misuse, dissociation, sexually transmitted infections, panic attacks, pregnancy, eating disorders, sleep disorders, self-harm, and suicide. 

Preventing Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is common—affecting millions of people in the United States yearly—and can have various adverse effects. As the CDC outlines, there are several steps individuals can take to try to prevent sexual violence, including: 

  • Supporting survivors of sexual violence through survivor-centered services
  • Creating sheltered environments
  • Improving safety in schools
  • Providing opportunities for empowering women and girls
  • Teaching skills to prevent sexual violence, such as safe dating skills for teens 
  • Promoting social norms that defend against violence, such as bystander approaches.

It may also be helpful to recognize some of the facts about sexual violence. For instance, some people may believe that a stranger commits most assaults, but eight out of ten rapes are committed by someone known to the survivor. 

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Additional Support Options 

In addition to the resources available through RAINN, many other resources are available for individuals who have been affected by sexual violence. However, reaching out for support in person after a traumatic event can be challenging. In these cases, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp can be a source of support.

Research has shown that online therapy can be effective for individuals impacted by sexual violence. For instance, one study evaluated the efficacy of an online therapist-facilitated cognitive-behavioral therapy program for women with rape-related PTSD. It found that "analyses strongly supported the efficacy of this program with a large pre- to post-treatment effect size for PTSD symptoms."

The range of adverse possible effects of sexual violence, such as depression and PTSD, may make leaving the house and traveling to a new place for in-person therapy daunting for some people. With online therapy, clients can meet with a provider from home and choose between phone, video, or chat sessions, offering them control over their healing experience.  


The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is an anti-sexual violence organization. It specializes in helping survivors of sexual violence through services such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline, the DoD Safe Helpline, and others. For additional support for individuals impacted by sexual violence, consider contacting an online or in-person therapist for personalized guidance.

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