Date rape is a violent crime with serious consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. Continuing to force sexual activity without consent is considered rape and is punishable under the law.
Date rape can be especially hard for victims to deal with because it is often committed by a friend or acquaintance. Like other forms of rape, date rape is not about sex; it is an act of violence in which power and control are the underlying motivating factors. Counseling through a rape crisis center can help victims cope with the trauma and make informed decisions about their legal options.
Keep Yourself Safe from Acquaintance Rape
Nobody ever thinks they will be in a situation where date or acquaintance rape could occur, but these tragic events happen to people every day. The following tips can help you avoid many dangerous situations:
- Provide your own transportation to and from your date. This asserts your independence and makes it easier to get away from an unpleasant or dangerous situation. Carry cab fare and a cell phone when possible.
- Refrain from drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Be especially wary of situations in which games or contests encourage drinking lots of alcohol in a short time. Alcohol and drugs often are present in date-rape situations. For the victim, use of these substances can impair judgment, memory and ability to sense an unsafe situation developing. Some date rapes occur after the victim has passed out from too much alcohol. Drugs and alcohol also may cause the perpetrator to become more sexually aggressive.
- Be extra cautious about what you consume. The increased use of date-rape drugs like Rohypnol poses a real danger to your safety. Avoid beverages that are not sealed or were not prepared in your sight.
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid isolated areas. Remove yourself from the situation immediately if you are even the least bit uncomfortable.
- Examine your feelings about sex and establish your limits before you are in a sexual situation. Then communicate those limits clearly and forcefully.
- Do not give mixed messages; be clear. Say “yes” when you mean yes and say “no” when you mean no. If you have trouble doing this, counseling or assertiveness training can help.
- Do not worry about seeming impolite or causing a scene if you feel that your safety is threatened.
- Stick to dates in public places like movie theatres or restaurants until you get to know and trust your date. Try double dates or group dates until you feel comfortable on a solo date.
- Think twice before inviting someone home. Most date rapes occur in the victim’s own residence. Take time to develop a trusting relationship before going to your date’s house.
- Trust your instincts. Many victims report that they sensed things were not quite right but were embarrassed to act on their suspicions until it was too late.
If You Are a Victim
If you have been or suspect you may have been a victim of date or acquaintance rape:
- Seek medical attention first. Go to your hospital emergency room or school health center to be examined. Be aware that showering can destroy evidence that you could use later to legally establish the identity of the perpetrator, should you decide to press charges.
- Consider talking to the rape unit at your local or campus police. Take a friend along for extra support.
- If you are not ready to pursue the matter legally, call a local rape hotline, and tell them about your experience. The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) runs a National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE or www.rainn.org.
- Consider ongoing counseling to help you deal with the long-term effects of this trauma.
- National Council of Women’s Organizations: www.ncwo-online.org
- RAINN: http://centers.rainn.org
Date rape is a violent crime with serious consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator. Continuing to force sexual activity without consent is considered rape and is punishable under the law. As Always,
- Love Mom