DATE RAPE – THE DANGERS

 

“It is up to all of us to ensure victims of sexual violence are not left to face these trials alone. Too often, survivors suffer in silence, fearing retribution, lack of support, or that the criminal justice system will fail to bring the perpetrator to justice. We must do more to raise awareness about the realities of sexual assault; confront and change insensitive attitudes wherever they persist; enhance training and education in the criminal justice system; and expand access to critical health, legal, and protection services for survivors.” President Barack Obama, April 2012

UniversitySexual assault on our college campuses is a growing epidemic. According to a White House report earlier this year, about one in five women are sexually assaulted while they are college students. Rape occurs when a woman is subjected to sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, or any other sexual act against her will through the use of threat of force. “Date rape”, also called acquaintance rape or hidden rape, is when a woman is raped by an acquaintance.

Although it is impossible to know the exact frequency of date rape, in some surveys up to 20 or 30 percent of young women have stated that they been date raped or been victims of attempted date rape. Most of them knew their attacker and most of this sexual coercion occurred on dates. About five to ten percent of young males have stated they have attempted date rape. Date rape is rarely reported to the police. As a result, victims rarely get help, despite the fact that they have been seriously traumatized.

The typical scenario for date rape involves a young women who, at a club, bar, party or other recreational gathering, feels social and sexual pressure to meet a boy. Drinking is often involved and sometimes sexual provocations are made by both girl and boy. Eventually, the two end up alone in a car, in an isolated area, or in one of their homes. It is at that point that the male often overpowers, threatens and forces the rape victim to give in and have sexual intercourse.

Increased risk factors for getting date raped include “traditional” assumptions among some young women that they should be passive or submissive, and the boy is “supposed” to be dominant. The rapist often picks out victims who he feels, based on their personalities, will not turn him in. The young men who commit date rape are often influenced by a powerful version of “machismo” – an assumption that it is the male’s prerogative to be dominant and take what he wants sexually. Sexual aggression in this context is not only acceptable but idealized. The use of drugs or alcohol by the aggressor is very common.

After date rape, the victim often tries to rationalize what happened. She blames herself. Despite these attempts at rationalization, she often suffers some degree of post-traumatic stress symptomatology and depression, and may even contemplate or attempt suicide. A very small number of date rapes are reported to the police, because of her guilt (her sense that somehow she may have caused it), her acquaintance with her attacker, and sometimes even the dismissive way she may be treated by family. Sometimes, sadly, the victim’s family members or friends look for reasons to accuse her, such as claiming she drank too much, dressed too provocatively, or in some other way “brought it on herself.” Other effects of having been date raped include promiscuity, social withdrawal, chronic anxiety, and persistent mistrust.

DISCLAIMER
Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.