Police and hospitals well know that there are many more rapes than are ever reported. This is especially true of “date rape,” or assault of a woman by a man she knows. Date rape is growing more common on high school and college campuses. It often occurs in someone’s home or dormitory or an automobile.

Many women and girls fear that reporting an attack will make the rapist angry and bring on more aggression. Some women are reluctant to humiliate a man they think is a “friend.”

While rape between strangers is condemned by society as a violent, criminal act, incidents of date rape are often minimized, largely due to our social training. Even today, girls are given the message from childhood on that they will be popular if they are submissive and compliant, while boys are taught that aggression and physical force are “manly.”

Know that you have the right to set sexual limits. You may have different limits with different people and your limits may change. But decide what you want or don’t want before you end up in the back seat of a car. Then communicate those limits to your date.

Pay attention to behavior that seems odd or pushy—such as when someone:

  • Sits or stands too close to you and enjoys your discomfort
  • Engages in power stares, looks through you or down at you
  • Blocks your way intentionally
  • Speaks or acts as if he knows you more intimately than he does
  • Grabs or pushes you
  • Doesn’t listen to you or disregards what you are saying, especially if you are saying “No.”

Be assertive. Get angry when someone does something to you that you don’t want. Respond immediately, and communicate your exact desires clearly.

Stand up for yourself, even if it means being rude. It’s perfectly okay to be rude to someone who is sexually pressuring you, even if his feelings get hurt. After all, he’s not paying any attention to your feelings.

Here are some ways to reduce the likelihood of date rape. Remember, the ability to reduce sexual assault does not mean you brought on the assault.

10 tips to Date Rape Prevention by Robert Siciliano ©

  1. When you date someone for the first time, meet during the day in a public place like a restaurant, a movie, or wherever there is a crowd. Do group activities like double dating or playing miniature golf. If the two of you are alone, have lunch, not dinner. That way, you’ll build in a time limit.
  2. Have your own transportation. Don’t depend on your date to get you home. It’s all too common for a woman to be driven to a secluded location and then assaulted. Also carry enough money for your own meals, tickets, and so on. Don’t ever depend on anyone financially. Many men still believe that any woman they spend money on owes them sexual favors.
  3. Don’t use drugs or alcohol. If you do drink, know your limits. When you drink, the first thing you lose is your judgment.
  4. If you’re at a party, never accept a ride from someone you’ve just met. Call a cab instead.
  5. Watch out for men who become violent or won’t take no for an answer, even in nonsexual situations.
  6. It’s a good idea to be clear with your date right from the start regarding your feelings about sex. Saying no is a lot easier at dinner than at your doorstep. Establish your expectations at the outset, what you will and won’t allow, when you are uncomfortable, and that “no” means NO. If you feel uncomfortable with your date’s responses or behaviors, clearly communicate those feelings.
  7. Don’t take communication for granted.
  8. If you invite your date in for a nightcap or coffee and he becomes aggressive, don’t hesitate to go to a friend’s or neighbor’s home to call the police.
  9. Don’t automatically trust everyone. Have a written set of guidelines for dealing with unwelcome sexual behavior that you can teach your children.
  10. Evaluate your own self-esteem. If it’s low, you might be attracting the wrong kinds of people. Low self-esteem leads many women to accept unacceptable behavior from a man. Some of the warning signs, which should NOT be ignored, include mood swings, fits of anger, inability to handle frustration, sexist jokes and behavior, overly controlling behavior, and lack of consideration for the feelings of you or others. Does your date insult you or demean you in front of friends? Does he pressure you for sex? Abuse alcohol or drugs? If you are attracting or tolerating these kinds of people, seek counseling. Or take a self-defense course.

Take it slowly in the early stages of a relationship. Don’t give out your address too soon. Get to know the person thoroughly. Cultivate your relationships as you would cultivate a plant. Let them grow at a natural pace.

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