Date Rape By Nancy Van Pelt

Photo: Bobbi Dombrowski
“My boyfriend and I went to a party at a friend’s house. No adults were there. My boyfriend asked me to go upstairs with him. I’d had a lot to drink and knew I shouldn’t go. But I did. He tried to have sex with me. I tried to fight him off but was too drunk and confused. Then he raped me. Later he apologized but said he thought I wanted it since I went upstairs with him. Now I feel like I asked for it since I did go with him. I broke up with him but never told anyone about this because I was drunk. I cry a lot and feel terribly guilty. I don’t want to go to church anymore and wonder if God can ever forgive me for what I did.”

Date rape is one of the fastest growing violent crimes in America. The National Victim Center reports that over 700,000 women are raped every year and 61 percent of all rapes are girls under the age of 18. Rape affects less than five percent of males.

What is Date Rape?

Date or acquaintance rape means being forced or pressured into having sex by someone you know—without your consent. Statutory rape is committed when someone engages in sexual intercourse with someone under legal age (in most states 16 to 18 years of age) who is not his or her spouse, whether or not the person is willing. More than 80 percent of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, a fellow student, neighbor or relative. It frequently occurs on a date, in people’s homes, at parties, daylight as well as night hours, where friendship and romance end in sexual assault.

Being raped by someone you know can often be more traumatizing than by a stranger since it represents a violation of trust. Secondly, family and friends may refuse to believe an assault by someone they all know and take sides or blame the victim. This violation of trust often leads to alienation from family and friends, substance abuse, suicide attempts, depression, excessive anger or eating disorders.

Regardless of who the perpetrator is, rape is an act of violence—an obscene attack on another person. And the problem is getting worse due to Hollywood and the music industry who push the idea that No really means Yes. Pornography, easily available on the Internet and home video, also promotes the idea that forcible sex is enjoyed by women and results in no harm.

Alcohol and drugs play a significant role in date rape. It is estimated that 55 percent of females and 75 percent of males had been drinking or using drugs at the time of rape. Drinking is touted as a popular way of setting the mood for romance. But after a few drinks, a woman can become too intoxicated to realize what’s going on. Alcohol clouds judgment and decreases motor skills which prevents her from escaping a dangerous situation.

Date rape is quite prevalent on college campuses. This can probably be explained by the fact that young people who have been constrained by their parents rules are unprepared for so much freedom away from home. Such “freedom” leads to unrestrained drug and alcohol use, which paves the way for irresponsible sex and often rape.

Date Rape Drugs

What is referred to as “date rape drugs” are also being widely used on unsuspecting victims.  Both Rohypnol, known as “rooties,” or the “forget pill,” and GNB known as “liquid X” or “g-juice”, are tasteless and odorless and can be slipped into a drink and within 10 to 15 minutes cause dizziness, drowsiness and confusion. Date rape drugs are yet another reason for avoiding alcohol and those who drink.

Preventative Measures

Setting limits and respecting yourself are two of the most important defenses. Something as innocent as holding hands or a goodnight kiss might be interpreted by the other to mean they could go further.  It is much wiser to stay on the conservative side. Rather than being old-fashioned, this is nothing less than “smart.”

Unhealthy situations where there is a major difference in age or authority as with a teacher, a boss, a physician, counselor, church leader or family friend to whom you might owe a favor should also be avoided. Another No-No is control freaks who try to get you all to themselves and control your friends, time and where you go. Guys who make crude comments, tell off-color jokes or enjoy pornography are also bad risks.

Rape is more likely to happen to those who have not set clear boundaries, been sexually abused in the past or are afraid of rejection. Remember that rape exposes you to risk of pregnancy, STDs, injury and humiliation. Regardless of how handsome, popular, rich, desirable or respectable a guy might appear, rape remains a crime. Pay attention to behavior that doesn’t seem right.  If something feels wrong it probably is. Take action!

Defusing the Situation

If someone tries to force you into sex, stay calm and think: What options are open to me? Women who fight, scream, and claw have a better chance of escaping than do those who beg, plead and cry. This is definitely not the time to be “Christian” and turn the other cheek or worry about being polite. This is the time to protect your body and possibly your life!

Response should be sharp and direct, such as, “Stop this NOW!” or “Get away!”  Yell loudly, “I’m being attacked.” Avoid the word “Help” as people nowadays are afraid to get involved in other’s problems. Look for a way of escape or someone to help you. Act quickly. The longer you delay, the fewer your options.

Should the rapist be armed, passive resistance is best. Try to talk him out of it.  Intimidation might work. Try to distract him or tell him you have AIDs. Do whatever you can to win this battle.

Should Rape Occur

Should your efforts fail, get to the safety of a friend or relative’s home and call the police immediately. Do not shower, bathe, douche or even change clothes since it is important to preserve all evidence of the attack. Reporting the assault immediately helps you gain a sense of control and ensures proper medical treatment.

Since most rapists are repeat offenders, by taking action you can help prevent the rapist from assaulting other victims. Remember: he has committed a serious crime and deserves punishment for it.

You will also need counseling from someone qualified to deal with the impact of the assault. Do not think you can just forget it and go on with life. It takes time to recover from the emotional, psychological and spiritual after-affects of a rape. You will need to rebuild your feelings of worth so you won’t be vulnerable again.
 
Most important, remember the rape was not your fault. Nor did your behavior cause it. Don’t give the rapist the satisfaction of ruining your life. Pick up the pieces, get well and carry on. Sexual assault is an ugly reminder that we must always be on guard against Satan and his army.  Strengthening your self-worth, staying alert, and making common-sense choices will go a long way toward helping you avoid this tragedy.
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Nancy Van Pelt writes from Bakersfield, California. Excerpted from Smart Love—Straight talk to young adults about dating, love and sex, by Nancy L. Van Pelt, Young Life Specialties, Clovis, CA, 2003. Available at www.heartnhome.com. All rights reserved © 2010 AnswersForMe.org. Click here for content usage information.