Date rape is a grave and serious issue. Also known as acquaintance rape, date rape refers to rape or non-consensual sexual activity between people who are already acquainted, or who know each other socially. It does not matter if you are in a relationship with the person; if consent is not given for any type of sexual activity it is considered rape.
According to a study by Brown University, female college freshmen are at the highest risk for sexual assault, and for women raped while attending college. Nine out of 10 offenders were known by their victims. Approximately 90 percent of campus rapes involve alcohol use by the assailant or victim.
Feminist.com states that approximately 80 percent of all rapes are acquaintance rapes. According to the New York Police Department, there has been a 5.9 percent decrease in reported rape cases with 1,115 cases reported in 2006, compared to 1,186 reported cases in 2005.
There are three well-known date rape drugs on the market. The first is GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid). It comes in multiple forms: pill, white powder or colorless, odorless liquid. The second is rohypnol. This pill dissolves in water and sometimes turns liquids blue. The third drug is ketamine, which is a white powder. All of these drugs can cause nausea, lack of muscle control, aggressive or violent behavior and possibly death.
At St. John’s, the Counseling Center does its best to help any student that has been a victim of a sexual assault. Ruth DeRosa, the senior counselor at St. John’s for eight years, said that confidentiality is given to every student that walks through the door.
“If a student has been sexually assaulted the first step is to take the victim to the hospital for medical care,” DeRosa said. From there the student can decide whether or not to file a report against their assailant. The counselors at the center support whatever decision the student makes and tries to meet with them on a weekly basis to begin the road to recovery. DeRosa urges the students to find their support system and share what has happened to them. Therefore, the victim does not carry such a heavy burden on their shoulders.
“A joy shared is doubled, a grief shared is halved,” DeRosa said. She explained that in her career as a counselor, she has dealt with rape victims and says that in the case of acquaintance rape, most victims blame themselves.
“Most women begin to question themselves and don’t want to admit they have been raped,” DeRosa said.
DeRosa also advises students to go out in groups and to watch their alcohol intake because most rapes occur when either one or both parties are intoxicated.
According to Jean Leonard, director of Sexual Assault Support Services at Duke University, most rapes on college campuses occur within the first six weeks of school and freshmen are primarily the victims. These statistics may sound shocking, but students on campus are not surprised.
Memuno Yosane, a first year biology major, said that the figures seem accurate.
“During the first year, students are more rebellious and things like rape are more likely to happen,” Memuno said. Samantha Adolphe said she does not worry about date rape because she takes precautions.
“I go out in big groups and I advise others to do the same,” Adolphe said. “Also, never leave your drink out or unattended.” There are various ways for individuals to protect themselves from falling victim to this crime. Kidshealth.com suggests avoiding secluded places, not spending time with someone you feel uncomfortable with, staying sober and aware at parties, being completely clear on what you do or do not want to happen on a date and to go out in groups.
Another suggestion made by kidshealth.com is to take self-defense classes so if you are ever faced with a possible date rape situation, you are prepared to fight off your offender.
When going out, it is advised that students should not accept drinks from other people. Students should also keep drinks in view and close at hand at all times.
Date rape is a crime that is often under-reported because victims either feel they are to blame, or they do not want to believe that someone they know assaulted them. Emotional and psychological effects include shock or disbelief, recurring thoughts of the crime, self-blame or shame and fears about safety.
The Counseling Center began participating in an event two years ago called “Take Back the Night,” an international movement against date rape that endeavors to empower women who have been victims of rape to no longer be afraid. It is a weeklong event in April that includes testimonials and a march around the campus at the end of the week.
For more information, students are advised to contact the Counseling Center.