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 happens 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.

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. Rape happens ultimately because of a choice made by the rapist – not because of the choices of the victim.

However, there are some precautions that you can take which you may find useful:

  • If possible, you can 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.
  • It may help to 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 friends. This is especially important if you will be drinking.
  • Never hesitate to ask for assistance or to scream if you feel in danger.  You may find this embarrassing, but your personal safety is worth it!
  • If someone makes you feel uneasy, trust your instincts to avoid being alone with them.
  • 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. Do not worry about offending them – if they are genuinely respectful of your boundaries, they will understand.
  • Be conscious of the potential influence of alcohol and drugs on your judgment.
  • If you are meeting someone for the first time, including someone you know from the internet, it may be safer to meet in a public place and let a friend or family member know where you will be, as well as when you expect to be home.

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 Care Centre (SACC) at 6779 0282 or email sacc@aware.org.sg .

What if I feel like the rape was my fault?

Some victims feel like rape is their fault.  Rape is never the victim’s fault – it is the result of the rapist’s choices.

But 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 talk it over in a confidential, supportive, non-judgmental environment. Contact the Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) at 6779 0282 or sacc@aware.org.sg.

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.

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