Reducing the Risk of Acquaintance Rape

80% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

Rape is never the victim’s fault. And no one has the right to force you into sex against your will. Often, women picture a rapist as the stranger in the alley wit ha ski mask and a weapon. Women don’t often picture a neighbor, study partner, co-worker or date as a rapist. Yet we know that 80% of rapists are these or other men that the victim knows. While there is no one best strategy to prevent acquaintance rape, there are preventive measures that can help reduce the risk of being sexually assaulted by someone you know.

ON DATES

- Avoid isolated settings. When you begin dating a new person, go to public places or go with other people.
- Clearly express your expectations and limits to your date.
- Be suspicious if drugs or alcohol are being forced on you. These can be used to decrease your defenses and reactions. They can also impair your judgement.
- Carry enough money to take a cab home if you have to get away. Carry change in case you need to use a pay phone.
- Tell someone the name of your date and where you are going before your date.
- Pay attention to warning signs such as being very demanding, talking in degrading ways about you or women in general, being irrationally suspicious or jealous, or touching you when you’ve said “no”.
- Make and assertive refusal-hurting his feeling or your own embarrassment are less important than your own safety.
- Do not let your date intimidate you. If you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and get away from him.
- Trust your feelings. Gut instincts are often a sign of potential danger.

AT PARTIES

- Stay around other people.
- Avoid accepting rides from new acquaintances.
- Again, be suspicious if drugs are being forced on you. These can be used to decrease your defenses and reactions and impair your judgement. If you choose to drink, bring your own beverage and monitor how much you consume.
- Go to parties with friends that you trust. Make arrangements to watch out for each other and meet up periodically to make sure that you are all okay.

DATE RAPE DRUGS

Substance related sexual assaults have been happening for a long time. The newer drugs, like rohypnol and GHB are especially dangerous. The can take away your ability to fight back, or even call out for help, and your memory y of what was done to you. Mixed with alcohol, they can kill you. Both rohypnol an GHB are easily dissolved in drinks and take effect quickly. There are precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of being a victim of substance facilitated rape.

Possible Physical Effects of GHB and Rohypnol: Intoxication, Impaired Judgement, Disinhibition, Dizziness, Confusion, Hallucinations, Drowsiness, Amnesia, Vomiting, Respiratory Problems, Tremors/Seizures, Unconsciousness, Coma and Death.

- Don’t drink beverages you don’t open yourself.
- Don’t share with anyone.
- Don’t take a drink from a punch bowl.
- Don’t drink from a container that is being passed around.
- Bring your won drinks to parties.
- If someone offers you a drink from the bar, accompany that person to the bar to order your drink, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call.
- If you realize your drink has been unattended, discard it.
- Don’t drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance.
- Appoint a designated sober person when you go to parties or bars. Make a plan to meet up periodically to make sure everyone is all right. If a friend appears disproportionately intoxicated, passes out and is difficult to awaken, is having problems breathing or is behaving in a uncharacteristic way, get medical help.

IF YOU ARE ATTACKED:

Try to stay calm so that you can gather information and make decisions. Draw attention to yourself – scream, yell “fire” or “help”. Resist as long as it is safe to do so. Claim to be sick pregnant have a venereal disease of to have AIDS. If you are assaulted, do not shower, change clothes or douche until you make a decision about reporting to the police or going to the hospital. If you think you may have been drugged, make sure the hospital knows so that they can test for the drugs. You may request a female officer. While you will be encouraged to talk to the police, you have the right to obtain medical assistance and not talk to the police.

REMEMBER: You are not trying to win, you are trying to survive. If you have been assaulted, there are resources available to help.