SLCgov.com

Acquaintance Rape: aka Date Rape

Being forced into having sex — even if it’s someone you know — is rape, and it’s a crime.

At least one-third of all reported rape victims know their attacker: he was a date, steady boy friend or casual friend. This is called acquaintance rape, and it probably happens to teenage girls and young women more than any other age group.

It’s hard to think of someone familiar as a rapist, and this familiarity makes you less willing to trust your self-protective instincts. Also, acquaintance rapists use psychological pressures, as well as physical force. Being forced into having sex — even if it’s by someone you know — is still rape, and it’s a crime. Nothing you do, say or wear gives anyone the right to assault you, sexually or otherwise.

  • What can I do to protect myself?
    • When you first date someone you don’t know well, check him or her out with friends. Plan to meet someplace where there are other people — a restaurant, a movie, a mall — or go with a group of friends.
    • Be prepared to find your own transportation home. Carry change for a phone call to your parents or a friend and enough cash for a taxi.
    • Don’t get drunk or stoned. Remember, drugs and alcohol decrease your ability to take care of yourself and make sensible decisions.
    • Clearly and firmly, let your date know your limits before you get into a situation you can’t control.
    • Don’t leave a party, a concert or a ball game with someone you just met.
    • Trust your instincts. If you think something’s not quite right or you feel uneasy, get to where there are other people or tell your date to leave — now. Be assertive.
  • Can I fight back?

    Because each situation is different, no one can list actions that are guaranteed to protect you against acquaintance rape. But here are some tactics to think about.

    • Be assertive. Say no firmly, even it he tries to make you feel guilty, unpopular or babyish.
    • If that doesn’t work, be rude!
    • Make noise: talk loudly, scream, honk the car horn.
    • Turn him off by acting crazy, saying you have a venereal disease or threatening to throw up.
    • Try to get away and call your parents or friends to come get you.
    • If all else fails, you can resort to physical resistance: a swift jab to the throat or eyes or a solid kick in the knees.
  • What if it happens to me?

    Don’t feel guilty and don’t just try to forget about it. You didn’t ask to be raped. Any rape is a violent attack that can have traumatic effects on the victim for months, and even years, afterward.

    The single most important action you can take is to tell someone — your parents, the police, a school counselor, the family doctor, or any adult you trust. Call your community’s rape hotline or crisis center. It is often listed in the telephone book under rape, community crisis center or sexual assault. The telephone operator can help you. Go to a doctor, hospital emergency room or local women’s clinic to be tested for venereal disease and pregnancy.

    All rape victims usually feel rage, guilt, anger and helplessness. The best way to handle these emotions and get back in charge of your life is to talk with sympathetic friends and family or counselors from the rape crisis center, a mental health agency or a women’s clinic.

  • Who can help?

    Even if you don’t have this problem, someone you know may. Find out about the services in your community that help victims of rape and incest. In addition to law enforcement, some places to look include rape crisis centers, community mental health centers, school counselors, women’s clinics, legal aid agencies, and social services agencies.

Date Rape: a power trip

Nothing — not even previous consensual sex — entitles anyone to force others to perform sexual acts. Without consent, forcing sexual contact is a crime. Date rape is a betrayal of trust and causes long-lasting emotional injuries. Date rape or acquaintance rape is about power, control and anger — not romance.

  • Why does it happen?

    Let’s look at sexual stereotyping and how males and females talk to each other.

    • Although things are changing, society still frequently encourages men to be competitive and aggressive and teaches women to be passive and avoid confrontation.
    • Men say they misunderstand a woman’s words and actions, the usual excuse being “she said no, but meant yes.”
    • Some people — men and women alike — still believe that it’s okay for a man to demand sex if he takes a woman out or buys her gifts, and that it’s not rape if he forces sex on a woman who previously had sex with him or other men.
    • Women also feel that if they’ve previously had sex with their boyfriend and he later forces her to have sex against her will, it may not be considered rape.
    • Date rape can happen in homosexual relationships as well as heterosexual ones. Although it is less frequent, men can also be the victim of rape. It is still a crime and the victim still needs to get medical attention and counseling as soon as possible.
  • What can I do to prevent date rape?

    Be clear about what, if any, sexual behavior you are comfortable with — and keep talking as you get deeper into a relationship.

    • Don’t use alcohol or other drugs: they decrease your ability to take care of yourself and make sensible decisions.
    • Trust your gut feelings. If a place or the way your date acts makes you nervous or uneasy, leave. Always take enough money for a phone call for help.
    • Check out a first date or blind date with friends. Meet in, and go to, public places. Take public transportation or drive your own car.
    • Leave social events with friends, not with someone you just met or don’t know well.
    • Always watch your drink and never leave it unattended. Don’t accept beverages from someone you don’t know and trust.
  • As a man, what can I do?
    • Realize that forcing a woman to have sex against her will is rape, which is a violent crime with serious consequences.
    • Accept a woman’s decision when she says “no.” Don’t see it as a challenge.
    • Ask yourself how sexual stereotypes affect your attitudes and actions toward women.
    • Don’t use alcohol and other drugs: it clouds your judgment and understanding of what another person wants.
    • Get help if you see men involved in a gang rape.
    • Understand that if a woman is drunk and you have sex with her against her will, it’s still rape.
    • Seek counseling or a support group to help you if you feel violent or aggressive toward women.
  • What do I do if it happens to me?

    Remember that rape is rape. You are not to blame. Remember that, and know that action against the rapist can prevent others from becoming victims.

    • Get help immediately. Phone the police, a friend, a rape crisis center, a relative. Don’t isolate yourself, don’t feel guilty or ashamed, and don’t try to ignore it. It is a crime that should be reported.
    • Get medical attention as soon as possible. Do not shower, wash, douche or change your clothes. Valuable evidence could be destroyed.
    • Get counseling to help you through the recovery process. Rape is a traumatic experience and trained counselors can make recovery easier and quicker.
    • If you think you’e been sexually assaulted under the influence of a date rape drug, get medical help immediately. Try not to urinate before providing any urine samples. If possible, collect any containers from which you drank.
  • What do I do if it happens to someone I know?
    • Believe her.
    • Ask her how you can help.
    • Offer comfort and support. Go with her to the hospital, police station or counseling center.
    • Remind her that it is not her fault.
  • How could I take action in the community?
    • Ask your student government or a parent group to sponsor a workshop on date rape and sexual stereotyping. Work with a hotline or crisis center to persuade rape victims to join the panel.
    • Volunteer at a rape crisis center or hotline.
    • Monitor the media for programs or videos that reinforce sexual stereotypes. Write, call or e-mail to protest. On the other side, publicly commend the media when they highlight the realities of date rape.
  • What are date rape drugs?

    Rohypnol — also known as roofies, roopies, circles, the forget pills — works like a tranquilizer. It causes muscle weakness, fatigue, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination and judgment, and amnesia that lasts up to 24 hours. It looks like aspirin — small, white and round.

    GHB — also known as Liquid X, salt water, scoop — also causes quick sedation. Its effects include drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, coma and death. Its most common form is a clear liquid, although it also can be a white, grainy powder.

    Rohypnol and GHB are called “date rape drugs” because when slipped into someone’s drink, a sexual assault can take place without the victim being able to remember what happened.

  • Incest: the most fundamental violation of trust

    Incest is more difficult to talk about than rape or date rape, but it happens to at least 100,000 children and teens each year. The most common kind of incest is sex between an older family member — a parent, stepparent, uncle or cousin — and a child or teenager. Most victims are girls, although it can happen to boys as well.

    Incest occurs through persuasion and pressure more often than by physical violence. It becomes a closely-held secret, continuing for years. The victims feel shame, anger and guilt, and they usually believe they must handle the situation alone. Incest victims who have to depend on their abusers for food and shelter tell themselves it won’t happen again, or they worry about sending their father, stepfather, uncle or brother to jail.

    The best way to stop incest is to tell someone you trust and who will believe you. This can be very, very difficult, and parents or relatives may say you are lying or that you caused the assault. Keep reminding yourself that incest is not an expression of love and that you have the right not to be touched sexually by anyone against your will. Keep telling until someone believes you.

    Running away or getting married to escape the situation are never solutions, but only create new problems all their own.

    Persons who commit incest — and their victims — can only be helped when the problem is out in the open. Although incest is a criminal offense, the abuser usually is not jailed, but is ordered to get psychiatric help. Many law enforcement agencies work with mental health and social service agencies to stop the incest, protect the victim, and help all members of the family.