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Date Rape

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 excuse “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.

Preventing Date Rape

As a Woman, You Can…

  • Be clear with men in your life about what, if any, sexual behaviors 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 pubic 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, You Can…

  • Realize that forcing  a woman to have sex against her will is rape, 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.
  • If Date Rape Happens…
    • 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’ve 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 Are “Date Rape” Drugs?

  • Rohypnol (“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,” or “scoop”) also causes quick sedation. Its effects are 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 they are slipped into someone’s drink, a sexual assault can take place without the victim being able to remember what happened.

If It Happens to Someone You 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.

Take Action

  • 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.

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