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In many works, as in Real Life, rape is an appalling crime that brutalizes the victim and can destroy lives. While some other works play rape for sexual fantasies or laughs, these treat it soberly, for a dramatic purpose.
That doesn't necessarily mean that it's treated tactfully. All too often, it's a case of the Disposable Woman becoming the Distressed Damsel (or even getting Stuffed Into The Fridge) to motivate the male vigilante. If multiple rapists were involved, expect the vigilante (or, occasionally, the victim) to go on a full-bore Roaring Rampage Of Revenge. Male examples, outside of the Boys Love, are rarely played for drama.
It is also used to make an otherwise unapproachable woman or man into a needy one. Like Rape Is Love... except someone else provided the rape. It is also used to motivate an overly independent bad girl or sexually aggressive bad boy to change his or her ways.
Horrifically overused in Fan Fic, for a number of reasons. Most often, it's just as a cheap shock in backstory without bothering to explain it any further than a sentence. Sometimes it's used in a case of Die For Our Ship, in which the character the writer hates is the rapist, and the rape is used as a device to get the two desired characters together (usually after the character the writer wants to "win" the ship war kills the perpetrator). Sometimes it's just used to make a Woobie out of the writer's desired Canon Sue, or to pair the author's MarySue or MartyStu with the victim in a Hurt Comfort Fic. It's arguable that less than 1% of FanFic actually uses Rape As Drama effectively, as most of the 10% of "good fics" that Sturgeon's Law claims there to be avoid using rape entirely.
Like Blackmail, to list all the variations and permutations of Rape As Drama here would probably be a lesson in madness.