Date Rape

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Date Rape, also sometimes known as acquaintance rape, is an ugly social phenomenon that parents, social workers, teachers and teenagers alike are very concerned about. The term refers to any non-consensual sexual activity between people who have consented to spend time (or go on a date) with one another. Date Rape may be planned or spontaneous. But even though it is a felony offense in the US, date rape is committed at a shocking rate of once every 2 minutes there, according to some studies.


Date Rape -- Breaking Prevelant Myths

Date rape underscores one of the most prevalent myths about rape – most people imagine unknown rapists jumping out of dark shadowy places and sexually attacking someone. However, the actual picture is quite different. According to doctors and counselors, more than half the people who are raped, know the person who attacked them. While it is girls who are the victims most of the times, in recent years, seven to ten percent of the victims are male.

It is a scary thought, but many men who admit to having had forced sex, or women who have been victims, do not label their experience as rape. In a research poll for an American magazine Ms, one in every twelve men interviewed admitted to having forced a woman to have intercourse or tried to force a woman to have intercourse through physical force or coercion; that is, they admitted to raping or attempting to rape a woman. However hardly any of these men, identified themselves as rapists. Similarly, only 57% of the women who had been raped labeled their experience as rape; the other 43% had not even acknowledged to themselves that they had been raped (see "Date Rape. The Story of an Epidemic and Those Who Deny It," Ms., October 1985, p. 56)

The hesitation in labeling an unacceptable sexual experience as Date Rape has occurred because of persisting values that portray date rape as acceptable or inconsequential. Many people feel that date rape is most often the result of miscommunication or misunderstanding rather than a true act of criminal intent. Regardless of society's confusion the law remains clear – a rape is a rape whether it takes place in a dark alley with a faceless stranger, or after a nice evening in the neighbourhood pub.

How it Normally Happens

Picture this very ordinary scene. A bunch of college students are sitting in a bar. When one of the girls gets up to go to the bathroom, the man she has been talking to or maybe flirting with, unobtrusively slips a colourless, tasteless, odourless substance into her drink. She comes back, unaware of what has happened. Maybe she wonders how one drink has caused her to feel so drunk, or maybe she is too far gone to even think that. Her "date" invites her back to his place, and she is incapable of judging whether that is what she would like to do. She goes with him, and soon slips into a drugged sleep from which she cannot rouse herself even as she is being raped. She wakes up in the morning, but may or may not recollect what happened.

Why does it Happen?

There are no good excuses for committing Date Rape, but here are some of the most used ones that rapists use – and victims sometimes believe, and what they actually mean.

“It was nothing but honest miscommunication – she did say no, but I heard maybe…”

Read -- He forced her to have sex.

I took her out for a nice meal, paid for her drinks…the least she could do to repay me was have sex with me…” Read -- He is just trying to justify the rape as casual sex, received by in him payment for the evening’s fun he provided.

“She was sitting alone in the bar and drinking. I thought she would be easy…”

Read -- This just displays an outdated and misogynistic attitude towards women.

“She was drunk anyway … what she didn’t know, couldn’t harm her, could it?”

Read -- Outdated and misogynistic attitude towards women. This also highlights a common social perception that a rape happens only if it is reported. The fact is – if someone forces another person to have sex, it is a rape (whether it is reported or not).

“She didn’t actually say no…”

Read -- He took advantage of the fact that she was probably too drunk or drugged to say no. Many date rapists drug their victims so that they are not in a position to protest or refuse to have sex. This is now increasingly being seen happening amongst the younger age group at parties.

Date Rape Drugs

Some drugs often seen to be used in cases of reported Date Rape include the following --

Rohypnol ("roach" or "roofies" in drug-speak) is a sedative that is much more powerful than Valium. It is legal in over sixty countries (but not in the US) as a treatment for insomnia. This drug acts fast – within ten minutes of having it, the victim begins to feel unbearably drowsy. Other effects include slurred speech, impaired judgement and difficulty walking. The effects can last up to eight hours. It is very dangerous to have this drug except under strict medical supervision, as its potential for overdose is high, and blackouts or respiratory distress occur frequently.

Ketamine ("special K") is an anaesthetic mainly used in veterinary practice. It induces dreamlike states and hallucinations. Available in liquid or powder form, this drug is easily slipped into a drink.

Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is also known as Liquid Ecstasy and Easy Lay –so users are in no doubt of its applications. This potent date rape drug is promoted as a growth hormone aid, a diet aid and a stimulant. Being in liquid form rather than tablet form, GHB is much easier to slip into an unsuspecting females drink than some of the other date rape drugs. Just a few drops render the victim confused, dazed, drowsy and unconscious within the space of 15 minutes. The effects can last from 2 to 8 hours.

The drug is hard to detect as it is colourless and odourless, although some reports suggest it has a slightly salty taste. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has banned GHB, keeping in mind its terrible side effects – possible nausea, seizures and depressed respiration in some cases.

Burundanga or borrachio is not so widely used as the other known date rape drugs, but people should still be aware that it is being used for date rape purposes. It is highly soluble and tasteless like Rohypnol. It causes victims to become confused, disorientated and induces a trance like state.

Alcohol still remains the most insidious Date Rape drug. Since it is socially so accepted, no one even bats an eyelid when men try and get their dates drunk so that they would `give in’. Alcohol can make people confused, disorientated, carefree, more confident and also unconscious if too much is drunk. Studies have shown that many rapists ply their victims with alcohol before assaulting them. As many as 55% of all date rape victims in the US report that they were drinking or drunk when raped. A staggering 80% of rapists had been drinking before they raped.

When to suspect your drink may have been spiked

Here are the warning signs to watch out for, which could indicate your drink has been spiked.

  • You are feeling noticeably drunk more quickly that you normally would expect.
  • You are feeling very dizzy, or light-headed, or queasy.
  • You can not think straight.
  • You are very drowsy.
  • You behave wildly, but can not control it.
  • Your movements are uncoordinated.
  • You have had a blackout.

If you feel any of these symptoms without having much to drink, try to get to safe place with safe people (people you know and trust).

Protecting Yourself

The best defense against date rape is to try to prevent it whenever possible. Here are some things both girls and guys can do:

  • Stay away from secluded places (and this includes your room or his) when with someone you don't know too well.
  • Listen to your gut feelings. If someone or some situation makes you feel uneasy or uncomfortable, leave immediately.
  • Stay sober and aware, especially when you are out with someone you don't know well. Drinking excessively could cloud your judgement. Also, be aware of your date's ability to consent to sexual activity - you may become guilty of committing rape if the other person is not in a condition to respond or react.
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger. If a stranger offers to buy you a drink, get the drink from the bar yourself so you can be sure what has gone into it.
  • Never drink a drink which someone else has fetched for you -- and it is not what you asked for.
  • Do not leave your half-full glass when you go to the loo or to the dance floor. Someone could easily spike it without your noticing.
  • Never share or exchange drinks with anyone.
  • Go out with a group of friends and watch out for each other. If you see a friend behaving strangely, instantly take him or her home. If you are leaving the party before your friends are, let them know you're leaving in full view of your date. Make sure that enough people know who you are with and where you have gone. If you see a friend leaving a party with a stranger, go ahead and check whether all is well or not.
  • Don't be afraid to seek help or other company even if you just feel uneasy.
  • Always let people you have just met think you have a flatmate or live with other people.
  • Don't be too quick to trust somebody you don't know – be careful about taking strangers at face value
  • Take self-defense courses. These can build confidence and teach valuable physical techniques a person can use to get away from an attacker.

Ten Warning Signs

Here are ten signs that show you need to think more about your own safety. 1. You are alone with someone you don't know well 2. You don’t know how you are going to get home after the party. 3. You do have a bad feeling about a person or a situation, but don’t get out of it. 4. You drink too much alcohol even when you don’t know too many people in a party, or you are by yourself in a pub. 5. You accept drinks from people, and drink even if the drink tastes a little off 6. You are with a guy who doesn’t listen to you or respect you. 7. You let your date in when he drops you home, even though you don’t know him well. 8. Your date is touching you inappropriately – and you don’t protest. 9. Your date makes suggestive or crude remarks about women in front of you. 10. You give in.

Getting Help

There are some essential procedures to be followed by victims of all rapes, including Date Rape.

  • If you're injured, go straight to the emergency room - most medical centers and hospital emergency departments have doctors and counselors who have been trained to take care of someone who has been raped.
  • Call or find a friend, family member, or someone you feel safe with and tell them what happened.
  • If you want to report the rape, call the police right away. Preserve all the physical evidence. Don't change clothes or wash.
  • Write down as much as you can remember about the event.
  • Recognise the fact that Rape is one of the most traumatic experiences one can have. Do go to a trained rape crisis counselor or a general mental health professional to get the right care and support to begin the healing process. Working things through can help prevent lingering problems later on.
  • Join a support group of people with similar experiences – many victims find it easier to share their story with people who have been through it themselves.

Protection Against Date Rape

Date rape and the illicit drugs used to facilitate it are being addressed on several fronts. In the last two years, new products have become available to help detect the presence of illicit drugs in drinks. One such product is a handy coaster which functions like a litmus paper. It turns blue when dipped into a drink contaminated by an illicit drug.

See Also


  • About Date Rape
  • About Spiked Drinks

Additional Information

  • Read Actual Victims'Stories
  • Watch Video on Date Rape