Acquaintance Rape

WHEN “NO”  ISN’T ENOUGH

  • 77% of rapes are committed by non-strangers (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997)
  • 31% of rape victims develop some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • 75% of males and 50% of females on college campuses involved in an acquaintance rape were drinking when the assault occurred (National Center for Victims of Crime)

 What is acquaintance rape?  

Acquaintance rape, also known as date rape, is forced or nonconsensual sexual activity with someone you know. It violates your body, your trust--and the law. In South Carolina, it is called “criminal sexual conduct” and may be punishable by up to 30 years in prison. If a person is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may not be able to consent to sex.  Having sex with someone under these circumstances may be considered rape.Nothing--not even previous consensual sex--entitles a person to force another person to perform sexual acts.

Force can be both physical and mental. Some emotional tactics include: threats to reputation, threats to "not like” you, name calling, saying you "brought it on yourself" or "really want it," threats to break up, and threats to say you "did it" even if you did not. 

The abuser often isolates or threatens harm to the victim if they tell anyone; they may threaten their family or their reputation. The victim may believe they are the only one who has been assaulted by the abuser, when in fact they usually are not.

MYTH vs. REALITY

MYTH:   Someone who is raped usually deserves it, especially if they have agreed to go to the attacker’s home.
REALITY:   NO ONE deserves to be raped, EVER, regardless of the circumstances.

MYTH:   If a person allows someone to take them out, pay for dinner, etc., then the person owes them sex.
REALITY:   Sex is not an implied payback for anything, no matter how much money was spent.

MYTH:  Once a man reaches a certain point of arousal, sex is inevitable and they can’t help but force themselves on a woman.
REALITY:  Both men and women are capable of exercising restraint when acting upon sexual urges.

MYTH: Certain behaviors, such as drinking or dressing provocatively, make the victim responsible for the rape.
REALITY: Clothing and alcohol are not invitations for sex.  It does not matter what a person is wearing: “NO” means “NO.

 

PREVENTATIVE STEPS…

  • You can be clear with the person in your life about what, if any, sexual behavior you are comfortable with. Trust your “gut” instinct: if someone or someplace makes you uncomfortable, leave. Always keep enough change to make a phone call, and remember that 911 is a free call from any pay telephone.

  • Check out a first date or a blind date with friends.  Meet in a public place, and take your own transportation. Leave social events only with friends,  not with someone you just met or know only slightly.

  • DO NOT use alcohol or other drugs in excess. They are disinhibiting, meaning that your judgment becomes impaired. You are more likely to behave in ways you would not ordinarily deem acceptable and you will tend to disregard cultural constraints. 

  • ALWAYS WATCH YOUR DRINK; never leave it unattended. 

  • DO NOT accept drinks from someone you do not know. There are several very powerful drugs, called “date rape drugs,” which can easily be slipped into a drink unnoticed and render the victim completely helpless, and may even leave the victim unaware that any sexual activity has occurred. For more information on this, see the Counseling Center’s brochure on club drugs.

  • Although it is less frequent, men can be victims of rape and women can be the perpetrators.

  • Acquaintance rape can happen to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, or gender.

  • Forcing a person to have sex against their will is rape. Even if a person is drunk or on drugs, if  they are not willing to participate in consensual sex, it is rape. Accept a person’s decision when they say “no.”  “NO” means “NO”--this is not a challenge. 

 

WHAT TO DO IF ACQUAINTANCE RAPE HAPPENS:

  • If you have been a victim of a rape, report it immediately. It is best to go to your local emergency room as soon as possible, and tell the physician exactly what happened. 

  • Do not shower, change clothes, or brush your teeth: go directly to the hospital in the exact physical state you are in following the assault. This will preserve evidence and aid in the documentation process.

  • The hospital will be able to perform a thorough sexual assault evaluation which will help law enforcement immensely. This is done to gather forensic information that could potentially assist officials in prosecuting the attacker.

  • Once at the emergency room, the physician can contact law enforcement as well as the local rape crisis agency. These two agencies will best be able to assist you in your time of crisis.

  • The emergency room will also be able to test for STDs and pregnancy, if necessary. This is very important, and should be discussed with the physician.

 

SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE LOCALLY: 
Cumbee Center to Assist Abused Persons  803-649-0480

Cumbee Center provides free and confidential 24-hour emergency services to domestic violence and sexual assault victims, as well as their family members and significant others.  Cumbee Center serves Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Edgefield, McCormick, and Saluda counties. Cumbee Center offers crisis intervention and long-term counseling, temporary emergency shelter, legal advocacy, support groups, emotional support, and a program for batterers.

The USCA Counseling Center can also provide counseling services for you. Contact The Counseling Center by calling 803-641-3609 or go to B&E 126 between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.