Date rape is an epidemic

Jul 272003
Authors: J.J. Babb

683,000 forcible rapes occur every year, which is 1.3 per minute.

(National Victim Center and Crime Victim Research and Treatment Center, 1992).

One out of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.

(Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1998.)

80% of all sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim.

(Source: National Victim Center and Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Rape in America: A Report to the Nation, 1992)

When we hear the word rape we think dark ally, strangers and extreme violence. Rarely do we picture a dinner, a movie, a party, a friend or a date.

But obviously this is who and when the majority of rapes occur.

How do we prevent these rapes?

The website offers some advice on avoiding date rape. These are some of their words of wisdom:

– Avoid parties or groups where alcohol or drug use is excessive. Studies show that 75 percent of date rapists and 55 percent of the victims had been drinking or using drugs.

– If you’re going to a party, establish a buddy system with a friend and watch out for one another.

– When leaving, don’t announce you are walking home alone.

– Don’t give a whole lot of information about yourself to anyone you just met.

– People can’t read your mind. If someone is doing something to you that you don’t like say so.

– Always have taxi money incase you need a ride home, and so you don’t feel you have to stay.

But what I see as the most important advice at all is to report the rape. Yes, telling the story to the police and maybe even in court is scary. And I know it is also hard not to place the blame on yourself, especially if you had been drinking. But no means no, whether or not you were drunk. It’s never okay for someone to use your body without your full conscious consent.

Date rape is a horrible crime. It takes a trust, maybe even a friendship or love and turns it into a sick, violent act. It is often difficult to admit the truth about what happened. The questions may run through your mind: “Maybe I wanted it? Maybe I was dressed like I wanted it? Well, I was planning to sleep with him soon….” But that lurking feeling and thought in the back of your mind tells you it was wrong– that you didn’t want it, and it was not okay.

It takes so much strength to turn against someone you liked, loved or were friends with and it takes a lot of strength and courage to press charges, but you must. If you don’t the person who hurt you may hurt another woman maybe even a friend of yours or your sister.

Rape, acquaintance or stranger, is never the victim’s fault. The fault lies solely on the perpetrator and he/she should be forced to take responsibility for the action.

If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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