What is Date Rape

Sep 5, 2021
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Rape is one of the most controversial issues that people all over the world encounter. Back in the days, the issue of rape – or any topic that is related to sexual activity – is considered taboo and is the reason why the topic has not been addressed sooner. Of course, as the world modernized, the problem is being tackled more and more and has led to the prevention and solution of some cases. This essay will tackle date rape or acquaintance rape and how a person can protect himself from it.

What is date rape?

In the United States, rape was once officially defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” However, as the organization eventually realized that their broad definition is extremely lacking, the definition has been updated in order to account for the previously uncounted cases of rape.

As a part of their Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, the FBI removed the term “forcibly” in the definition and widened the scope to “penetration, no matter how slight, with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” This change to the scope of the definition helped a lot of victims of attempted and committed but unrecorded acts of rape to be recognized and have their cases properly identified.

Under the act of rape is the date rape which is sadly common especially in college students’ parties and in bars.  Date rape is sometimes called acquaintance rape to encapsulate those who only know the perpetrator personally but do not have any kind of romantic involvement with them. Date rape is a more enclosed term saved for instances where a person is interested or romantically involved with their attacker.

Date rape is defined as coerced sexual activity, whereby the perpetrator and the victim already know each other. They may be partners, dates, friends, or just acquaintances, but not family members. This revolting act is done through verbally abuse, pressure, violent acts, threats of violence, misusing authority, or using date rape drugs. Perpetrators of date rapes are mostly aggressive, dominant and uncompromising males who view their victims – mostly women – as sex objects, submissive, and inferior.

Date rape not only increases the risk of substance abuse, but also pregnancy, depression, anxiety, suicide, problems in subsequent relationships, some kind of addiction, and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, victims may have difficulty in attaining sexual satisfaction they experienced following the assault. These consequences are too grave to contemplate that no reason should stand in the way of bringing perpetrators of date rapes to book.

The term date rape only came into existence in 1988 when certain individuals and researchers decided it was high time to prove that the belief that majority of rape cases are caused by attacks from strangers is but a myth. Even then, cases of nonconsensual sex have existed but is not recorded as criminal acts as they have been done under the guise of a romantic relationship.

The creation of the classification date rape or acquaintance rape is really groundbreaking as it opened the eyes of many people that a trusted person could also be a perpetrator of rape. That the act of rape could extend even to people involved in romantic relationships or is married. To understand date rape, or rape in general, involves a prior understanding of mutual consent from both parties.

Date Rape Statistics

It is difficult to determine the exact number of date rape cases occurring around the world as the cases are not all recorded and some victims only choose to speak up years after the incident took place. In the year 2019 alone, there were almost 140,000 reported cases of rape in the United States. This figure is far from the total of reported rape cases in 2018 which reached more than 700,000.

Research by Koss (1988) indicates that of all reported incidents of rape, date rape is the most prevalent, with about eight out of ten rape cases being date rapes. Additionally, four out of five women got attacked by someone they know personally. One quarter of all girls are likely to be victims of rape before they even reach 25 years of age. United Crime Report statistics counted an estimated 92,455 rape cases in 2006. Nine out of every ten rape cases involved some form of force. Three out of four men and more than half of women involved in date rapes are found to be intoxicated or have taken drugs.

Findings by Morgan and Oudekerk (2019) revealed that approximately 24 million women and almost three million men reported that they were victims of attempted or committed rape at some point of their lives. And that about 19 million women and 10 million men have been sexually coerced -  including rape date – at some point. Yes, even men can be victims of cases such as these.

According to Koss (1988), in approximately eight out of every ten cases of acquaintance rape, one of the partners consumes alcohol, while both partners consume alcohol in half of the reported cases. These drugs make it hard to recall the event, or reduce the capacity of the victim to reject sex, or to fight back. Because it is difficult for the victim to recall the circumstances under which the rape happened, or to prove that no consensus existed, judicial prosecution is often impeded.

But this does not necessarily mean that such cases don’t stand a chance in court. It may not be easy to find proof of the use of drugs, but proving that sexual intercourse happened is easy and in situations where it is reasonable to assume that drugs were used, proving that rape occurred is less exacting. That is why such cases must be pursued in court.

Date Rape Drugs

Dangerous substances can play a key role in date rape cases. Date rape drugs are commonly used to render the victim unconscious and unable to get help or even remember what happened when they are under the influence of the substance. Because it makes the victim confused, it may be harder for them to even recall what happened and defend themselves in court or other people.

Date rape drugs are often used or mixed with alcoholic drinks or other kinds of drugs. This could really endanger the victim’s life because mixing drugs and alcohol have extremely negative side effects like losing body coordination, losing consciousness, internal bleeding, difficulty in breathing, and even damage to different organs. Attackers could use any type of drug like anti-depressants, tranquilizers, cocaine, and marijuana to render their victim helpless.

Aside from those, there are other drugs usually used in parties, bars, and concerts.  Its nicknames vary from country to country that’s why it is more important to identify them by their generic name. Here are the three most common date rape drugs being used.

1.     Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). This is a nervous system depressant that is prescribed by doctors to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy. GHB can make a person feel weak, sleepy, and forgetful. However, if it is overdosed even by a milliliter, a person may be unable to speak, have convulsions, lose consciousness, slowed breathing, and even pass away. It is particularly difficult to identify as it has neither smell nor taste and can be in liquid or powder form.

2.     Rohypnol or flunitrazepam. Rohypnol is used as a tranquilizer or anesthesia in some countries. Its effect is found to be ten times more potent than Valium and is described as paralyzing. This drug removes the ability of a person to move and recall events and it causes confusion, drowsiness, and loss of muscle control and memory. When it was first produced, it used to be a white tablet, making it one of the most dangerous undetectable date rape drugs to be used. To protect people, drug companies remanufactured it and turned it to a green pill with a blue core that colors any liquid it is mixed with.

3.     Ketamine. Like Rohypnol, Ketamine is first used as an anesthesia that helps induce loss of consciousness. It provides pain relief but when overdosed, a person may experience hallucinations and may feet detached from everything including himself. Currently, scientists are studying if it can be used to treat depression. It can cause vomiting, spiking blood pressure, changes in heart rate, and can even cause a coma. It is usually in a clear liquid or powder form that has no taste and scent.

How to Protect Yourself from Date Rape

For now, one thing a person can do is to protect themselves from being a victim of date rape. That romantically involved individuals or married couples put trust and respect above everything else and that they should never dare try disrespect, pressure, or force their partners into submitting to their sexual desires. Because it is more difficult to educate some people about how respect works, a person should opt to learn how to best prevent themselves from becoming a victim of date rape in the meantime.

If a person is still trying to get to know the person they are going on a date with, they should avoid going to secluded places or overcrowded bars and from spending time alone with the person at all costs. It is also important to stay sober or make sure to pour one’s own drinks. Remember not to let the person take advantage of the inability to say no and other vulnerabilities.

Also, it is important to have a set of emergency contacts you can reach out to immediately and come to your aid if you ever need help. If possible, a person is also recommended to take self-defense classes or at least know some basic techniques to be able to protect oneself to an extent. Always be on guard especially in this dangerous times. A person may come off as cold or not fun if they do these preventive measures, but it is always better to be safe.

Conclusion

It is not right for people to defend attackers. No matter what angle that argument is looked at, it can never be right. The blame should always be pointed at them and not the victim. But of course, this is not a perfect world. Victims are told to always be more careful, be wary of everyone, including friends and significant others, and learn how to protect oneself.

Society never made matters easier by shifting the blame to the victim, when it argues as it often does that victims of date rape provoke such attacks through their drinking habits, or through putting on ‘sexually provocative’ clothes. Well, to drink or to dress in a sexy way is not the same as requesting for sex, and must not be used as an excuse for denying the victim justice.

Society generally tries to justify acquaintance rape particularly in instances when it happens in the man’s house or in his car. The fact that a woman consents to have a date in either the man’s car or house does not imply that she has given her nod to sexual intercourse. The fact that a man buys a woman dinner or a drink does not mean that she owes him sex. And we cannot even turn the argument for date rape on its head on the basis that the woman did not fight back, or because the two were in a relationship. Fact remains that if sex occurred against her will, it still remains rape, whether she fought back or not, or whether they were lovers or not.

One other argument that is extremely tiring is that any intimate activity preceding intercourse means that sex is unavoidable, and that once it has started, the only thing left for the man is to have his way. Once the woman has made up her mind not to have sex with the man, that decision must be respected too, irrespective of whether the two engaged in intimate activity before sex or not. After all, if no proper consent is given by both parties, it should always immediately be identified as rape.

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References

Dude, A. (2020, October 22). Date rape. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/date-rape

Koss, M. P., Dinero, T. E., Seibel, C. A., & Cox, S. L. (1988). Stranger and Acquaintance Rape: Are There Differences In the Victim’s Experience? Psychology of Women Quarterly, 12(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1988.tb00924.x

Morgan, R., & Oudekerk, B. (2019). Criminal victimization, 2018 (NCJ 253043). U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv18.pdf

WebMD Medical Reference. (2007, January 1). Date-Rape Drugs. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/date-rape-drugs

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