Date Rape


For Donna it was a blind date with a college medical student. Jackie went to a party and let “a very polite young man” drive her home. A guy in Laura's neighborhood escorted her to a banquet.

All three girls were raped. None of the girls thought they had anything to fear.

After all, it's strangers we're afraid of, right? But according to recent statistics, “stranger rape” really doesn't happen that often. Eighty percent of all rapes happen with someone you know. Most of the time it happens the first time you go out with this person or after the first couple of times.

If you're a girl between the ages of 14 and 19, you're in the highest risk category for acquaintance rape (also known as social rape or date rape).

Not long ago I went camping with 38 high school girls. It was their girls' club getaway. For part of the weekend program we had a question-and-answer session, during which the group tried to answer each other's questions.

The girls had written their questions anonymously and put them in a box. While looking over them to lead the discussion, I came across four questions about date rape.

“What do you do if a guy you're dating forces you to have sex?”

“How can I be around this guy who raped me? No one even knows.”

“What do you do when a guy starts threatening you?”

“How can I live with myself because I'm not a virgin anymore (I was raped)?”

These girls all attend a private Christian school. I learned that you can't think you're safe from date rape even if you attend a Christian school and date only guys with a Christian background. It happens there, too (although guys who are mature, have standards, and enjoy a friendship with Jesus won't feel the need to exert power over another person).

The biggest thing to come from that weekend discussion was this: choose your dates carefully it matters more than you think.

Whoa, Jack!

OK. I'd never really met this guy-just seen him across campus a few times. He'd been out of school for a while after a car accident. But he was my good friend’s cousin. Decent genes and all.

So the evening he called and asked me to go to the beach with him. I said I would. I thought, What's the worst that can happen? He might turn out to be a jerk, and I'll have a horrible time. But it's only one afternoon of my life.

Besides, the poor guy was recently shafted by the girlfriend he'd had for two years. I could keep him company for a few hours.

He picked me up, and we began the hour drive to the beach. He was definitely an energetic date - in fact, he seemed a little overhyped. He blasted the stereo with the windows open and weaved in and out of traffic. At a stop light he said he was hot and pulled off his shirt. (The only other thing he wore was some swimming shorts.)

He drove with one hand, keeping the other hand on the seat between us. “Sit closer,” he said, laughing. (I scooted about an inch toward the center.) Then he touched my knee a few times and made some suggestive comments, which I ignored.

At the cloudy beach he wanted to rub suntan oil on me (after he asked me to rub it on him, and I hedged until he did it himself). Next he started talking about how beautiful his ex-girlfriend was and what a great body she had - then he told me how great I looked. (Come on, I was pale and out of shape!)

His talk was all flirty and flattering. And surface. He wouldn't talk about anything like school or friends or God or what he was going to do next year. And it didn't seem like he was really listening to me. He just kept finding double meanings in what I said. If I laughed at something he said, he took advantage of that to put his arm around me.

At first I tried to ignore his suggestive comments and move away when he got “friendly.”

After the beach we went to a restaurant. He slid next to me into the booth, and I moved toward the wall, feeling a little penned in. He didn't seem to notice my backing off.

By this time I was getting pretty fed up with the way he'd turn everything I said into sexual innuendos. And I was tired of his pushy overtures. I was sure he was beginning to notice my unfriendliness and unresponsiveness. And I was sure he'd tell my friend. Oh well.

Finally we were driving home. Ah! Soon I'd be away from this guy.

But about a block away from my house, he pulled the car to the side of the road next to some orange groves.

“Why are we stopping?” I asked. I still wasn't afraid of him - and it was broad daylight.

Suddenly he had his arm around me and was pulling me toward him. Then he began kissing me forcefully, a hand over each ear, squeezing my head.

“What are you doing?” I shouted. I couldn't believe it. How could this guy just force himself on me? It was so obvious I wasn't interested.

“Take me home!” I demanded. Even more disgusted, I pushed him away.

Fortunately he stopped. He started up the car and drove me home, acting as if nothing had happened.

I never saw him again. And I never thought of date rape - not then, not since - until recently when I found out how many warning signs he was showing.

And now I know I should have gotten out of that date much sooner. I was in danger.

I've come to realize it's important to recognize warning signs and to get away if you see them. You might call it wrong once - but more likely knowing these signs will save you.

Warning Signs

Get away if a guy does any of these:

  • If he makes suggestive remarks.
  • If he restrains you in any way. Like if you try to walk away and he grabs your arm to stop you from leaving.
  • If he kisses you and holds your head so you can't move it away.
  • If he tries to physically force you at all. Confinement. Power.
  • If he speaks about his other escapades - other girls he's been out with and what they did.
  • If he tries to make you feel like you're being a prude or uncool.
  • If he tries to put guilt on you. “You tell me you care about me. You tell me you love me. If you love me, you would do this.”


Messed-up attitudes. They're all around you.

From TV: Television shows (especially nighttime soaps) and many videos (particularly be aware of rock videos) portray the macho-type man as someone who wants strength and domination. The woman always struggles with him at first, but then she gives in and it's wonderful. It's as if she wants to be manhandled.

That's not how it is in real life! In real life, struggling means struggling. Struggling means “no”.

There is nothing mature or masculine about forcing a girl to have sex. That has nothing to do with being a man.

The media has led people to believe that sex in any way is acceptable (even desirable), and violence is a turn-on. And that's what rape is sex plus violence.

But again, that's not reality! Ask any rape victim or abused child. Forced sex and violence are ugly and a complete turnoff. Girls will be attracted to a man with respect - respect for her and respect for himself.

From the locker room: Guys, you may hear things like, “She said no, but she really meant yes. She struggled, but she was just trying to excite me. She was teasing me along.”

Don't believe it. Saying no means no. It doesn't mean you have to try harder. Respect what a girl says.' That's the way to build a relationship.

You may also hear things like, “How'd you do with Jenny last night? What's she like? How is she?” Your peers may put on pressure to “score.” But remember, you'll show more maturity and masculinity by having the courage and self-respect to wait.

From girl talk: A documentary a while ago showed a classroom full of college women being interviewed on their dating attitudes. The girls were saying things like, “You know, if he takes you out and he buys you dinner, do you owe him?”

The answer is, No way! That's wrong, and it's unchristian. A girl “owes” a guy nothing more than her genuine interest in his wellbeing, and nothing less than her own self respect.

If a guy's taking you out, girls, hopefully it's because he likes you or he wants to find out if he likes you. No owing here. And guys, if that's not why you're taking a girl out, you'd better stop taking her out.

If You're a Girl ...

  • Understand what your obligations are when you agree to go out with a guy - to treat him as Christ would. With respect and kindness. You have no obligations to give or accept any physical overtures.
  • Realize that boys rape for power. Don't consider a guy's sexual forcefulness flattery. Be flattered if a guy cares enough about you to protect you.
  • Mean what you say. Don't waffle or compromise. And back up your statements with action. Call your parents to pick you or leave if he's pressuring you.
  • Double-date.
  • If a guy starts drinking, get someone to take you home. Don't be around him. Drinking and rape are often related. Drinking breaks down inhibitions. When a guy is drinking, he will do things he normally wouldn't. And he won't be rational for you to reason with.
  • You have the right to say no and to have that respected. You should feel no guilt about refusing to have sex with any guy.
  • Be careful of body language. If you present yourself as someone who can be manipulated and pushed around, it could happen. Show that you believe in yourself.
  • Have standards you stick by. If you let your standards down in one area, that can hurt you. If you usually don't drink but you say, “Well, I'll try it this time,” that gives the message “Well, if she'll do this, she'll do other things.”
  • Don't think, If I loved him I would do more. If you truly love him you will do less. You'll help him control himself - something you'll both be happy for on your wedding night.

Why do boys rape?

Three teenage rapists were interviewed. These boys, now in treatment at the Maclaren School for Boys in Oregon, got frighteningly honest about why they raped.

Mike, 18 years old, committed rape twice. He says he raped the first girl because he felt he had no control over his own life, so he wanted to have power over someone else. About his second rape victim (his teenage cousin), he says, “I felt powerful when I was doing it.”

Toby, also 18 years old, was drinking and smoking pot the night he and three friends sexually abused and tried to rape an ex-girlfriend of his. While doing this, Toby says, “I felt like I was in control over the whole thing. It was a way to have power over someone, someone who couldn't defend herself because I would be bigger. Even though I had gone out with her, I felt she was just a sexual object.”

John, 17, had been out drinking one night with a girl he liked who considered him only a friend. He raped her in a parking lot. He says, “She fought hard. It made me feel good, you know. I had control over somebody else. I wasn't thinking of her as my friend, I was thinking of her more as just an object.”

A crisis center counselor confirms these motivations, stating, “Rape has nothing to do with sex and passion. Nothing. It has to do with anger hatred a desire to humiliate, a desire to be powerful, a desire to control.”

What to do if a guy's trying to rape you:

Stephany, a counselor at a crisis center for sexually abused women, offers this advice.

  • If a guy is just being aggressive or manipulative - fight. Scream; threaten to tell; if you can work yourself up enough, throw up; wet yourself. Anything you can think of. Don't worry about looking foolish. Get this guy out of there.
  • If he's trying to rape you in a neighborhood and you can get away long enough, run to the nearest door or window and bang on it and scream. One girl trapped in a car with a guy kept hitting the horn and scared him away.
  • If a guy is holding a gun or a knife on you, or if he starts beating on you before you've struggled or resisted, do anything to try to save your life. And if that means passive, life-saving cooperation, then do that. You can prosecute later.

If You're a Guy ...

  • Understand what you have the right to expect when a girl agrees to go out with you – her company.
  • Stay away from alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of rapes.
  • Try each paying your own way (going dutch) on dates. This gets everyone out of the “you owe me” syndrome.
  • Work against the myth of the dominating male. Be comfortable with girls asking you out too. And don't take it as a come-on. It isn't.
  • Remember: there is nothing mature or masculine about premarital sex, or about forcing a girl to have sex.
  • If a girl acts as though she is very interested, that means she may be very interested in you as a person. That's the truest flattery. It doesn't mean she wants to have sex. Don't read things into a girl's behavior.
  • If a girl gives in, that doesn't mean she was waiting for you to pressure her more. It means she just gave in, gave up. And she will be sorry and resent you for it. Count on it.
  • If you force a girl to have sex, no matter who you are or who she is, if you're convicted, you will go to prison.
  • When a girl says no, respect the no.

You have raped a girl if:

  • She says no, but you think she means yes and you force her.

You are bordering on rape if:

  • She says no, and you give her emotional abuse until she gives in. According to a sexual crisis counselor, if you say any of the following things, you are giving a girl emotional abuse:
    • “If you love me, you would do it.” Remember: if a guy really cares about a girl, he would never want her to do something she didn't want to do-and something she'll be sorry for later.
    • “We've done it before.” Even if she's broken down in the past, a girl - and a guy - has the right to say no at any time and have that respected.
    • “If you don't do it, I'll tell all your girlfriends that we did it anyway.”
    • “You're not going home until I get what I want.”


If you've been raped (no matter how long ago)...

Call a sexual abuse crisis hotline or visit a center. Talk to someone who understands what you're going through. (For the number of such an agency in your area, check the front of your phone book under emergency numbers. Or call the police station, the health department, or social services.) You don't even have to give your name.

Talk to a Christian adult - a parent, pastor, priest, or adult friend. You might even have this person visit a crisis center with you. Chances are friends your age don't have the knowledge and background to really help, and they may carry some wrong attitudes.

If you do prosecute, remember that you may save many other girls. One sexual abuse counselor states, “A man who rapes doesn't rape just one woman.”

And prosecution often enables the guy to get treatment and healing. If you don't prosecute, the guy may tend to justify what he did and not recognize that he needs help.

And in a court setting, you as a rape victim are the witness to a crime. You did not commit the crime. The guy is the one who committed the crime.

Forgive yourself. Expect you'll go through the stages of loss. You have lost something - mostly trust. Trust in others, even trust in yourself.

First you'll have to deal with your own feelings of guilt and responsibility for what has happened. A crisis counselor stated, “I have yet to meet a rape victim who did not carry some guilt. No matter how it happens, no matter if the girl gets beat up first and then it happens or she just gives in, girls tend to carry all the feelings of guilt and responsibility for what has happened to them.”

You will tend to say things like, “If I hadn't gone out with him.” “If I hadn't accepted that gift.” “If I hadn't let him in the house.” “If I had listened to my mother.” “I should have known.”

Talk to God about your guilt feelings. And remember that they are only feelings. Ask God to take them away and to give you His healing. We really hurt ourselves and others when we don't forgive ourselves. Some people punish themselves. They live with the burden of trying desperately - and unsuccessfully - to make up for what they feel guilty about. And they're never happy. They feel they don't deserve to be joyful.

Other people take out their guilt on others, punishing people who are close to them. They want others to “be brought down to their level,” so they are critical and unloving.

You don't need to live with guilt. Talk to your heavenly Father, who wants you to find relief and peace and joy. And purity. You are clean and new in Him.

Forgive your offender. This may be the hardest thing you'll ever do. But remember these things about forgiveness. Forgiveness is not indifference. It's not saying “Let's just forget it. ” That's not dealing with the problem - it's ignoring it.

And forgiveness is not agreeing with the wrong. When Christ forgives us, He doesn't say our sin is OK. We don't have to worry that forgiving someone means we're saying what this person did was OK.

Forgiving means we are releasing that person from our judgment, and releasing ourselves from the chains of not forgiving. Forgiving is releasing from our judgment entirely the one who has hurt us, leaving their judgment to God.

Here are some steps to forgiveness:

1. Pray for willingness to forgive. God, the creator of love and forgiveness, can change our attitude.

2. In a Christian way, communicate your anger and outrage to the person. It's best to do this in a letter, where you don't have to worry about your emotions taking over. A letter also gives you time to reflect and get your thoughts together.

Follow these suggestions in your letter: a. Be specific. State the event in descriptive terms. You might say, “Remember when…? Help him see what happened in a more objective way - apart from what he felt at that moment.

b. Talk about your feelings - both then and now. State them in a non attacking way. “When you…I felt …I felt that way because… Now I'm feeling…” Help him understand the effect of his actions.

c. Deal in potential as well as in the past. Don't limit the other person's right to change by comments like, “You'll never…” Suggest, in a caring way, possible ways he can get help so he doesn't hurt relationships in the future.

If you raped someone...

  • Stop going out with girls until you have gotten help.
  • Pray. You need God's power to do the right thing.
  • You must realize and admit that what you did was wrong. God can convict you of sin and help you have the courage to seek forgiveness.
  • Ask the girl for forgiveness. Write a letter acknowledging that what you did was wrong and recognizing how hard it will be for her to forgive you and saying you're truly sorry.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Seek help through a crisis center (who you are and everything you say will remain confidential), and also talk with a Christian adult. Rape is a symptom of something wrong in your life. Get professional help.

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