Dating Safety: Reducing the Risk of Date Rape
Thinking about your next date should conjure up warm images, not dangerous ones. Unfortunately, there are situations that may occur if you find yourself out with a friend.
Date rape (acquaintance rape, hidden rape, or drug-facilitated rape) can happen to both women and men. It involves being subjected to unwanted sexual contact (intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, or other sexual contact) through the use of force or the threat of force. The victim knows the rapist, and the act often occurs on a date.
Date rape appears more common in the young. Over 22% of women and 15% of men between the ages of 11 and 17 report experience with rape, physical harm, or stalking. Any intimate partners can involve date rape. Although it cannot always be prevented, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of being raped on a date.
Common Traits of Date Rapists
Date rape can happen to anyone by anyone. The difference is that it is done by someone you know. Here are some of the more common traits in people who have been charged with date rape. Remember that just because someone may have these traits, it does not make them a date rapist.
- Youth (lack of experience with intimate relationships)
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Previous victim of sexual assault
- Accepting gender-based stereotypes (men dominate women, for example)
The Role of Alcohol
Over 55% of date rapes involve drinking or drugs before the attack. Drinking can impair your judgement as well as the judgment of the person you are with. It can increase the risk of sexual assault because it creates a sense of false well-being. It can also allow someone a better chance of taking advantage of you, especially if you know each other. Just be aware of how much you are drinking and stay in control. Here are some of the dangers of excess drinking:
- Not being able to think clearly
- Not being able to set or keep limits
- Blurring your sense of danger
- Making it harder to fight off offender
- Blacking out and not remembering what happened
Controlling your drinking is one way you can monitor your behavior. Know your limits when you drink.
Common Date Rape Drugs
Certain drugs have become known as date rape drugs. Most are colorless and odorless, making detection difficult. They are used to reduce your ability to control situations and create memory loss. Here is a list with some of their more common nicknames:
- Rohypnol (roofies, forget pill, circles mind erasers). Some rohypnol is now colored. Some drinks may turn blue, but do not use that as a standing rule.
- GHB (cherry meth, bedtime scoop, G, G-Juice, Gamma 10, Liquid E, Liquid Ecstacy). GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is marketed as Xyrem for the treatment of narcolepsy.
- Ketamine (Special K) is an anesthetic that is used in humans and animals.
Besides knowing about risks of drugs and alcohol, there are some things you can do in any situation.
Not every situation is completely unavoidable, but there are steps that may help keep you safe:
- Do not accept drinks from other people and do not accept opened drinks.
- Do not leave your drink unattended.
- If something does not seem right, do not drink it.
- Be clear about your expectations.
- If possible, go out with a buddy or a group of friends.
- Do not be afraid to say no or ask for help.
How to Seek Help
If you are assaulted, or feel like you may have been assaulted, seek help right away. Keep in mind the drugs are meant to impair your memory, so it is possible to not know right away if something happened to you. If you have been assaulted or suspect an assault:
- Get medical help right away. Call 911 or have a friend take you to the emergency room, then contact the police.
- Ask for a urine test to see if the drug is in your body.
- Do not clean up where you think you were assaulted.
- Do not wash your clothes or yourself.
- Write down as much as you can remember about the person and your surroundings.
- Call a rape crisis center or other agency that can help you.
Rape is a crime no matter who assaulted you. It is physically and emotionally damaging. Take time to learn about rape resources in your area. Ask your doctor about counseling or guidance through the criminal process.
Most did not expect a date rape because they were with someone they believed they could trust. The best defense is to keep a level head. Arm yourself with knowledge before you go out, learn about your surroundings, and protect yourself from harm.
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
Canada Safety Council
Acquaintance and Date Rape. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/TeenDatingViolence2012-a.pdfAccessed November 14, 2012.
Date Rape Drugs Fact Sheet. Department of Health and Human Services Womens Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/date-rape-drugs.cfm#eUpdated December 5, 2008. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Fitzgerald N, Riley KJ. Drug-facilitated rape: Looking for the missing pieces. National Criminal Justice Reference Service website. Available at:
. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Nemours Foundation. Date rape. Teens Health, Nemours Foundation. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your%5Fmind/relationships/date%5Frape.html. Updated February 2009. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Perspectives on Acquaintance Rape. American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress website. Available at: http://www.aaets.org/arts/art13.htm. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Sexual Violence and Adolescents. National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women website. Available at: http://www.vawnet.org/. Accessed November 14, 2012.
Understanding Teen Dating Violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/TeenDatingViolence2012-a.pdf. Accessed November 14, 2012.