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What is Date/Acquaintance Rape?

When people think of rape, they might think of a stranger jumping out of a shadowy place and sexually attacking someone. But it’s not only strangers who rape. In fact, about half of all people who are raped know the person who attacked them. Girls and women are most often raped, but guys and men can also be raped. When forced sex occurs between two people who already know each other, it is known as ‘date rape’ or ‘acquaintance rape’.

Acquaintance rape consists of using physical force, emotional bargaining, blackmail or mind games to force sexual intercourse, fondling, kissing, holding or any other sexual contact. If it is against your will, it is against the law. Date rapes often occur as a result of misunderstood sex role behaviours and/or communication styles. Males who regard sex as “scoring” and are sexually aggressive often believe they can convince a woman to have sexual intercourse with them with a little persuasion or force. Females frequently say no too softly or indirectly because they don’t want to hurt feelings or jeopardize a relationship.

Although it involves forced sex, rape is not about sex or passion. Rape has nothing to do with love. Rape is an act of aggression and violence.

Healthy relationships involve respect – including respect for the feelings of others. Someone who really cares about you will respect your wishes and not force or pressure you to have sex.

Effects of Sexual Assault

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted it is not uncommon to have a wide range of emotions and symptoms. Even if counselling wasn’t sought initially (most victims don’t) counselling can help months or even years after the assault.

Some of the emotions a victim may experience include guilt, inability to trust, fear, isolation, depression, anger, low self-esteem, and a fear of intimacy. Physical symptoms may include anxiety attacks, headaches, and disruption in eating and sleep patterns. Long-term effects may include isolation, guilt, shame, anger, obsession-type behaviours, disruption of normal sex life, flashbacks, eating disorders, addictions, sleep disorders, and chronic depression.

If someone you care about has been sexually assaulted, you may also be experiencing emotional trauma such as nightmares, anger, guilt, isolation, depression, etc. You may find counselling for yourself helpful as well.

For more information on sexual assault and consent click here.

Statistics

  • In 2002 women made up the vast majority of victims of sexual assault (86%) and other types of sexual offenses (78%).
  • In cases reported to police, 82% of women who were raped knew their attackers.
  • 25% of women are raped by boyfriends, 47% are raped by acquaintances and 5% are raped by a family member, while the remaining 23% were assaulted by a stranger.
  • 1 in 4 Canadian women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.
  • The largest target group of women who are sexually assaulted is between the ages of 15-24.
  • Nearly 50% of all assailants who force women in to sexual intercourse are married or living common-law at the time of the assault and are considered responsible members of the community.
  • A woman is sexually assaulted every 17 minutes.
  • In more than 40% of incidents of violence against women, the attacker was drinking.
  • 49% of all sexual assaults occur in broad daylight.
  • 64% of sexual assaults occur at home.
  • Most incidents of violence against women have an emotional impact on the victim.
  • Of every 100 sexual assault incidents, only 6 are reported to the police.