Family Works: Speaking on date rape
by By ROB COOMBS ID. Min. Ph.D.
Jul 14, 2013 | 1491 views | 0 0 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the most tragic counseling experiences of my career involved the family of a wonderful young lady who deliberately chose a smaller university for her freshman year, believing that such an environment would be much safer than the larger university setting.

During her first semester, a young man asked her to attend what would be her first college party and, after much prompting from the young man at that party, she had her first beer. Being from a conservative Christian home, this was the wildest, most daring thing she had ever done. Why not?

College is a time to experiment and, after all, she trusted the young man even though this was their first date. Sadly, he was not worthy of her trust. He slipped a date rape drug into her drink and later, without her knowledge, raped her in a parking garage. She only vaguely remembered him taking her home and asking her if she was OK.

About six weeks later she started vomiting every morning. Unable to shake this “virus,” she made a doctor’s appointment. He asked if she might be pregnant. “No, that’s not possible,” she explained. “I’m still a virgin.” He tested her anyway and found out to her absolute horror that she was pregnant. Her life was never the same after that moment.

Research indicates that date rape is a growing problem, especially on college campuses. Between 17 percent and 25 percent of college women are sexually assaulted by either a date or friend. Because many college women are at risk, rather than pretending that a problem doesn’t exist, colleges are slowly beginning to acknowledge the seriousness of this issue and implementing measures to handle it.

This is to be applauded as studies confirm that college administrations can shape students’ attitudes about date rape, especially colleges that have a firm rape-intolerant policy that adjudicates a case swiftly and harshly. This policy, in combination with regular educational programs, is necessary to combat rape-tolerant attitudes.

The following questions should be asked to assess your risk of date rape experience:

1. Do I know what rape is? This may seem like a silly question, but research reveals that only 27 percent of victims realized that their sexual assault fell within the legal definition of rape. The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines rape as “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her consent.” This means that any sexual intercourse without mutual consent is a form of rape.

2. Do I really know my date? Eighty-four percent of women raped know their assailants. Just knowing your date is not enough. You must have good reason to trust him.

3. Do I have the confidence to say “No” and mean it? Many girls are simply too nice, and are afraid of offending or disappointing. Be ready to state your convictions clearly and firmly, and don’t allow any room for negotiation.

4. Do I trust my friends? There is safety in numbers, but trusting others to protect you can leave you vulnerable. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.

5. Can I drink or use drugs and stay in control? Fifty-five percent of the women who fall victim to rape attempts and 75 percent of their attackers are under the influence of alcohol before the rape occurs. Since alcohol reduces inhibitions, some people may believe that a woman under the influence of alcohol is somehow more responsible for her behavior than a drunken man is for the way he may use her. Because the legal definition of rape hinges on the notion of consent, any sexual contact with a woman too drunk to be capable of giving permission is a crime.

6. Do I pay attention to my gut feelings? Please, trust your instincts. If something about the date or party is making you uneasy, then something’s probably wrong. Get yourself somewhere else, somewhere safer.