Myths and Facts About Date Rape

A national survey indicated that 15% of women students on college campuses reported being victims of rape and 12% reported being victims of attempted rape.  Fifty-seven percent of the incidents occured during dates; and 75% of the assailants and 55% of the victims had used alcohol or other drugs prior to the assault.  (Warsaw, R. I Never Called it Rape. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.)  Other studies have produced similar results.  More than half of all rape and sexual assault incidents occurred within one mile of the survivor’s home or in the survivor’s home. (Greenfield, L.A. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997.)

The most current statistics published in Florida are the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) numbers collected from law enforcement agencies throughout Florida.  These statistics only reflect sexual offenses that were reported to law enforcement.

Forcible rape occurs once every 1 hour and 38 minutes throughout the state of Florida. (FDLE Crime Clock, 2010)

Total Forcible Sex Offenses Reported in Florida, 2010*

  • Forcible rape: 5,074
  • Attempted rape: 295
  • Forcible sodomy: 1,173
  • Forcible fondling: 3,343
  • Total Sexual Offenses Reported: 9,885

Total Forcible Sex Offenses Reported in Alachua County, 2010*

  • Forcible rape: 121
  • Attempted rape: 9
  • Forcible sodomy: 24
  • Forcible fondling: 32
  • Total Sexual Offenses Reported: 186

(*Florida Statistical Analysis Center: FDLE, Crime in Florida, Florida Uniform Crime Report; Tallahassee, FL)

Unfortunately, sexual battery, also known as rape, is a subject surrounded by misinformation. The information presented here is intended to help you understand the facts. Armed with facts you can make the best choices for your situation.

Date/Acquaintance rape describes when an individual is forced by someone he or she knows to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Threats and intimidation, administration of alcohol or other drugs, as well as physical force or restraint is often present in an acquaintance rape situation. Acquaintance rape is the most common form of rape on college campuses. Acquaintance rape occurs most often during or after social events such as parties at bars, fraternity/sorority parties, or other places where students may congregate while using alcohol or drugs. It can even occur on a date.

There are expectations about what men’s and women’s roles should be, and at times these expectations conflict with true feelings. It is the responsibility of both men and women to communicate their feelings directly and to respect each other’s right to say NO. Always remember, “No Means No”!

Myths and Reality About Date Rape

Myth: Date rape only happens between people who just met or don’t know each other well.

*Reality: Rape (sexual intercourse with a person against his/her will through the use of threat, force, and/or intimidation) has nothing to do with how well the person knows the assailant. It’s not uncommon for a person to be raped by someone he or she has been dating for a long time, or by a former lover, or by a spouse.

Myth: There are many false reports of rape, especially date rape.

*Reality: In the article False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault (Lonsway, K., Archambault, J., Lisak, D., 2009), the research suggested that the rate of false reporting for sexual assault is in the range of 2-8%.  Additionally, in the 1996 National Criminal Victimization Survey, the Bureau of Justice Statistics proposed that only 30.7% of all rapes are reported to the police. 

Myth: Women can easily avoid situations that can lead to rape.

*Reality: Most women who have been raped were in an environment they considered safe and were raped by someone they thought they could trust.

Myth: Women are more likely to be raped by black men than by white men.

*Reality: Ninety-nine percent of people who rape are men, and 60% of male perpetrators of rape are Caucasian.  (Greenfeld, L. A. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997.) http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php

Myth: Only women can be raped.

*Reality: Men can be and are sexually assaulted, and not only by men who are gay. Rape is not about sexual orientation or sexual desire; it is an act of power and control, in which the victim is brutalized and humiliated.

Here are some tips for both men and women to help understand this crime and to prevent it.

  • Know your sexual intentions and limits. You have the right to say “No” to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain about what you want, ask the person to respect your feelings.
  • Don’t get stranded.  If you don’t know your date well, consider driving your own car and asking to meet your date in a public place – if your date hesitates, don’t waiver. If you do accept a ride from a date, always carry some money so that you can call a cab if you need to cut the date short.
  • Communicate your limits firmly and directly. If you say “No,” say it like you mean it. Be careful of mixed messages. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language. Remember that some people think that drinking, dressing provocatively, or going to a private room indicates a willingness to have sex. Be especially careful to communicate your limits and intentions clearly in such situations.
  • Don’t rely on ‘ESP’ to get your message across. Don’t assume that your date will automatically know how you feel, or will eventually “get the message” without your having to tell him/her.
  • Stay sober on a date. Alcohol impairs judgment and memory. A victim of rape who was intoxicated may have his/her credibility attacked in court.
  • Listen to your gut feelings. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, leave the situation immediately and go to a safe place.
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘make waves’ if you feel threatened. If you feel you are being pressured or coerced into sexual activity against your will, don’t hesitate to state your feelings and get out of the situation. Better a few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment than the trauma of sexual assault.
  • Attend parties with friends you can trust. Agree to look out for one another. Try to leave with a group, rather than alone or with someone you don’t know very well.
  • Decide whether you would fight back. Most experts agree that this is a choice that each person must make for himself/herself. If you are confident, consider learning self-defense techniques that provide you with an option if you are attacked.

Additionally:

  • Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what your date is saying. If you feel he/she is not being direct or is giving you a “mixed message”, ask for clarification.
  • Use common sense. Realize that you do not have the right to force anyone to have sex just because you paid for dinner or drinks.
  • Don’t fall for common stereotypes. When a person says “No”, don’t assume that he/she really means, “Yes.” No means no. Always.
  • Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s behavior. Don’t automatically assume that a man/woman wants to have sex just because he/she is drinking, dresses provocatively, or agrees to go to your room. Don’t assume that just because a man/woman has had sex with you previously he/she is willing to have sex with you again. Also don’t assume that just because a man/woman consents to kissing or other sexual intimacies he/she is willing to have sexual intercourse.
  • Be aware of your date. Having sex with someone who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent is rape. If you have sex with someone who is drugged, intoxicated, passed out, incapable of saying “No,” or unaware of what is happening around him/her, you may be guilty of rape.
  • Be especially careful in group situations. Be prepared to resist pressure from friends to participate in violent or criminal acts.
  • Get involved if you believe someone is at risk. If you see someone in trouble at a party or see a friend using force or pressuring someone into sexual contact, don’t be afraid to intervene. You may save the person from the trauma of sexual assault and your friend from the ordeal of criminal prosecution.

Ways to Avoid Date/Acquaintance Rape:

  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol or drugs.  They interfere with your ability to communicate and increase your chances of being assaulted. 
  • Trust your instincts.  If a situation feels wrong or dangerous, it may be.  Get away, call for help, and listen to your instincts.
  • Pay attention to what is happening around you.  Do not put yourself in a vulnerable situation.
  • Make conscious and active choices.  Say what you mean and express what you feel.
  • Be assertive and sure of what you want to do.
  • Do not imagine that because someone has spent a lot of time, attention, or money on you that it obligates you sexually.  You have the right to say “NO”.
  • Make plans ahead of time so that someone will know where you are.
  • Most of all do not be afraid to say “NO”.

So-called Date Rape Drugs, such as GHB, Roofies, Ketamine and others, are chemical compounds that amplify the effect of other drugs, usually alcohol. These drugs pose particularly significant problems because they are colorless, odorless, and easy to place in an unsuspecting person’s beverage. If you or a friend find you are intoxicated beyond what you might expect based on what and how much you have consumed, or if you become confused, dizzy, or ill for any unexplained reason, seek medical assistance, tell a friend, and get help.

If you have been raped or drugged, report the crime immediately to the police and seek medical attention. On campus the University of Florida Police will provide assistance to you including contacting the department’s Office of Victim Services.

For further information on this or other safety topics, please contact the University of Florida Police Department’s Community Services Division at 352-392-1409.