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Sexual Assault FAQs -- Question 6

Q: What is acquaintance or "date" rape?

A: "Acquaintance rape," which includes date rape, refers to those rapes that occur between people that know one another. "Date rape" refers to situations in which one person has consented to go on a date with another person and that person then rapes him or her.

According to Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), about two-thirds of sexual assault victims in the United States knew their assailants.

According to the Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Curriculum, produced by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the City of San Diego, to reduce your risk of acquaintance or date rape:

Set sexual limits. Stop or slow down before you get to your sexual limit. It is your body and no one has the right to force, harass, or coerce you into doing anything that you don't want to do.
Trust your instincts. If you feel you are being forced into unwanted sex, you probably are.
Decide before you are alone with someone what your sexual limits with the person are.
Don't do anything that you don't want to do just to avoid disagreement, unpleasantness, or embarrassment.
Practice being assertive: state what you want. Use a confident voice and body posture. Look directly at him or her and say "No" in a firm, serious voice. Match your body language to your words - don't laugh and smile while saying "No."
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Your best defense is having a clear mind.
Always have extra money to get home. Have a plan for someone you can call if you need help.
If you feel uncomfortable, scared, or pressured, act quickly to end the situation. Say, "Stop it" and leave or call for help. Remember that you have the right to say "No" even if you:
Say yes, but change your mind
Have been kissing or "making out"
Have had sex with this partner before
Have been drinking alcohol
Are wearing provocative clothing
Remember: these tips can help reduce your risk of sexual assault, but they will never completely eliminate the risk. If you say "No" and still feel threatened, leave immediately or call for help.

If you are sexually assaulted, it's not your fault. Sexual assault is a crime, and nothing you do, or do not do, makes you responsible for the crime.

Look for "red flags"

The Sexual Assault Risk Reduction Curriculum emphasizes looking for "red flags" when you are in intimate situations.

Red flags are things that are said or done that may make you feel like the person you are with is not safe. Trusting your instincts can mean paying attention to these red flags.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

You should be especially alert if the person you are with:

Ignores, interrupts, or makes fun of you
Sits or stands too close to you or stares at you
Has a reputation for being a "player"
Drinks too much or uses drugs; tries to get you to use drugs or alcohol
Tries to touch or kiss you or gets into your "personal space" when you barely know him or her
Wants to be alone with you before getting to know you, or pressures you to be alone together
Does what he or she wants without asking what you want
Gets angry or sulks if he or she doesn't get what he or she wants
Pressures you to have sex, or tries to make you feel guilty for saying "no."
Be aware of "date rape drugs" and how they are used

The Department of Health and Human Services' National Women's Health Center offers the following information about date rape drugs:

There are at least three date rape drugs:
GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid). GHB has a few forms: a liquid with no odor or color, a white powder, and a pill
Rohypnol (flunitrazepam). Rohypnol is a pill and dissolves in liquid.
Ketamine (ketamine hydrochloride). Ketamine is a white powder.
Date rape drugs are meant to leave the victim helpless to stop a sexual assault. Victims may be physically helpless, unable to refuse sex, and unable to remember what happened.
The drugs often have no color, smell, or taste and are easily added to flavored drinks without the victim's knowledge
Alcohol can worsen the drug's effects
How can I protect myself from being a victim of a date rape drug?
Don't accept drinks from other people, except trusted friends.
Open containers yourself.
Keep your drink with you at all times, even when you go to the bathroom.
Don't share drinks.
Don't drink from punch bowls or other large, common, open containers. They may already have drugs in them.
Don't drink anything that tastes or smells strange. Sometimes, GHB tastes salty.
Have a non-drinking friend with you to make sure nothing happens.
Remember that alcohol can also be used by offenders to incapacitate a potential victim. Alcohol is also relatively easy for an offender to obtain. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.