According to The Counseling Center for Human Development at the University of Florida (http://usfweb.usf.edu/counsel/self-hlp/daterape.htm), thirty-five to seventy-five percent of all rapes against women are committed by someone they know. Fifty-two percent of female students have been victimization sexually in one form or another. Out of eight college women, one has been a rape victim. One in twelve college men confess that they have abused women sexually.
I don't know about you, but to me, these statistics are alarming. Forty-seven percent of rapes occur on first or casual dates or by romantic acquaintances. Females between the ages of 16-24 are at greater risk of being date raped (Women's Coalition of St. Croix http://www.wcstx.com/friendrp.htm).
What exactly defines date rape? Th Women's Coalition of St. Croix define it as "using physical force, emotional bargaining, blackmail or mind games to force sexual intercourse, fondling, kissing, holding ... any sexual contact forced on you by a stranger or someone you know." Rule of thumb: if it is against your will, it is against the law.
My mother was relating the story of how one of her friends had been sexually harrassed by her boss at work after hours to my uncle. He replied that her friend allowed that to happen.
Many women who have been raped feel as they are somehow at fault. Maybe they didn't say no loud enough. Maybe their clothing lead the guy on. For years, instead of putting the rapists on trial, our justice system and media have crucified the victims, making them feel that the rape was their fault. That is absolutely untrue.
If you have been raped, it is not your fault. Let me say that again, it is not your fault.
Now how do you protect yourself while you are on a date?
First you have to watch that you are not slipped a date rape drug.
You should never leave your drink unattended. If you don't know the person really well, do not accept a drink from him. Feeling sick or dizzy while you are on a date, have someone you trust take you home. If there is no one you trust, call your parents, but never leave alone.
If you suspect that you may have been drugged, tell someone. If you cannot tell anyone, call 911. A blood sample and other tests can determine whether drugs are in your system. Mixing alcohol with date rape drugs can be deadly.
Learn to trust your instincts. If a place or the way your date is acting is making you uncomfortable, get out.
Warning bells should go off in your head if you date puts you down or tries to control your choice of clothing and friends.
Also be wary if he asks you to come back to his place or wants to be alone with you.
If he is physical with you--pushing and shoving you--you need to leave immediately.
Try not to be alone with a first or blind dates. Arrange to double date with another couple. A couple you trust. Go on dates in public settings, such as to the movies, concert, sports events, church or restaurant. Always keep enough money to take a cab or call home with you.
Be cautious about who you leave parties and social events with. It is not wise to leave with someone you don't know well or just met.
So what happens if you are attacked?
If you are attacked, try to stay as calm as possible. You are better able to determine your best choice of action when you are thinking rationally.
Submitting rather than resisting may be better, especially if the attacker has a weapon.
If one strategy doesn't work, move to another. Non-resistance, negotiating, stalling, distracting your attacker, fleeing to a safe place, verbal assertiveness and screaming and physical resistance are all viable options.
Be alert to the details of your surroundings and your attacker, so you will be able to describe him to the police.
Your life is in danger if you are forced to get in a vehicle. Resist this. Try to disable the attacker, distract him or attempt to attract attention. Kick, scream, gouge his eyes, knee him in the groin, stomp on his feet. Fight like your life depended on it because it does.
After the ordeal is over, report it to the police. Even if the attacker told you not to. You take away his power over you if you tell the police. If you are still questioning whether to report it or not, think about this: do you want him doing this to some other girl?
Then seek out counseling. From your church, from a psychologist, from a rape support group--it doesn't matter. The key is to find someone you feel comfortable talking to.
Rape is any sexual act that is forced on you without your permission. And it is against the law. Ninety percent of women donít report it, trapping them in a prison for the rest of their lives. Donít be a victim. Be a survivor.
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