Date Rape

It’s rarely a stranger

When talking about rape, most people have an image of masked assailants jumping out of dark alleyways to attack their hapless victim.

While this is a tragic reality in some cases, it is rare. Most rapes are not committed by a stranger, but by men who know their victims. Many victims have gone out with their assailant previously and are supposedly their friends. This is called “acquaintance” or “date” rape.

One common misconception is that rape can’t occur between two people that have been friends or intimate before. The truth is that a rape occurs anytime one person forces a sexual act on another person against their will, regardless of any existing relationship between the rapist and the victim.

All rape is traumatic, but to be taken advantage of by someone previously known, like, and trusted, is ultimately the most hurtful. Although only a small percentage of men commit date rape, these men do a disproportionate amount of damage.

Ultimately, everyone reacts to stress and trauma differently. However, most rape victims go through definable stages of rape trauma syndrome; trauma, denial and resolution.

Safety tips

It is not possible or even advisable to go through life like you may be attacked at any time. Women are not raped because somehow they let down their guard.

Nevertheless, it is useful to be streetwise and to take some precautions to reduce risk:

  • Learn how to defend yourself. This can be in the form of a self-defense class that will instruct you on physical self-defense techniques that will give you precious seconds to get away from an attacker. Self-defense classes are also very useful at building your confidence and self-esteem.
  • Try to always stick with a group of friends and look out for one another. Make a pact with friends when you go out socialising that you will make sure everyone gets home safe. Use a buddy system to watch out for your girlfriends. This is especially important if you will be drinking.
  • Never hesitate to ask for assistance or to scream if you feel in danger. You can recover from a moment of embarrassment in a lot less time than what it would take to heal from rape and sexual abuse.
  • If someone makes you feel uneasy, trust your instincts and eliminate any instances where you would find yourself alone with this person.
  • Always be clear and concise with others in setting boundaries for your body. If you and someone else begin doing something that you are not sure about, don’t hesitate to be firm in letting that person know that you are not ready. No means no.
  • Keep yourself aware of your surroundings with a clear head. Alcohol and drugs can severely impair your judgment and your ability to keep yourself safe.
  • Avoid being alone with someone and meet in a public place until you are familiar with and trust a person. This includes someone you are meeting off the internet.

If you are a victim of date rape

Here are some things that you can do if you are a victim of date rape:

  • Call someone that you trust and feel safe with. Tell them what happened, and what they can do to help you.
  • Do not hesitate to go to the emergency room immediately.
  • Do not hesitate to call the police and report the rape right away. Keep all of the physical evidence intact by refraining from washing or even changing clothes.
  • If you want to report the rape, it is helpful if you write down everything that you remember about the attack.
  • If you would like someone to accompany you to the hospital or the police, AWARE can arrange for a befriender to go with you. Contact our Sexual Assault Befrienders Service at 6779 0282 or email sabs@aware.org.sg.

More information is available here.

What if I feel like the rape was my fault?

Some victims feel like rape is their fault. Although rape is never the victim’s fault, feelings of guilt can prevent the victim from getting help. Remember, rape can really hurt a person’s emotions. Even if you get over the trauma of the attack, you may develop painful feelings later. It’s important to get counseling for yourself as soon as possible to avoid serious emotional complications (such as post-traumatic stress disorder), even if you do not want to press charges against your attacker.

If you aren’t sure what happened to you was rape, a rape crisis counselor or health care provider can help you sort it out.

How does rape harm the victim?

There are many ways that rape harms the victim. Harm can be physical as well as emotional.

Physical harm

  • Broken bones, bruises, cuts, and other injuries from violent acts
  • Injuries to the genitals and/or anus
  • Being exposed to sexually transmitted infections
  • Unwanted pregnancy

Emotional harm
Even though the attack is not your fault, you may feel:

  • Ashamed
  • Embarrassed
  • Guilty
  • Worthless
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Anger

You may also develop issues with

  • Trust
  • Attraction to men (if the attacker was a man)
  • Consensual sex later in life (inability to enjoy sex without intrusive recollections of the abuse)
  • Flashbacks (re-living the rape in your mind)
  • Nightmares
  • Falling or staying asleep

Will I ever feel well again?

Rape can leave physical and emotional scars that last a long time. Some victims find that emotional scars never go away. Long-term counselling can help you to deal with guilt, fear, depression, anxiety and other emotions.

For more information and resources:

Watch a video about date rape and victim-blaming here: