The term "date rape" in and of itself is a controversial subject. Unlike the term "forcible rape", date rape is a less harsh term that often suggests that the victim, typically female, has played a role in her assault and shares blame and responsibility for the violation of her person. Because the violation specifically applies to a rape victim who has a preexisting relationship with the offender, attempts are made to attribute the unwanted sexual violation to a miscommunication. The reality is that 2/3 of all rape victims have a preexisting relationship with the offender. The offender is someone that the rape victims trusts and has a relationship with. Very few rapes are what we term "stranger rapes" in which the victim and the rapist do not know one another. The term "date rape" and the implications that follow are dangerous; it serves to blame victims and help excuse rapists.
Rape in the most basic sense is the forced vaginal penetration without the consent of the woman. In California, rape is defined in Penal Code sections 261-269. The state also has corresponding criminal statutes governing forced oral copulation and forced sodomy.
Historically, rape was defined under federal law as requiring vaginal penetration. In early 2012, however, it was redefined to include oral copulation and anal penetration.
While efforts have been made to advance the "no means no" campaign and slogan, what it fails to recognize is that women do not respond the same way to sexual violation. The perspective needs to shift to emphasize the importance of gaining consent from a sexual partner; that is to say only "yes means yes". A person is rendered incapable of consenting to a sexual act when they are intoxicated, unconscious or outside the age of consent (defined differently on a state to state basis) or is forced to participate (not consent) through threat of violence.
By law, the University is required to publish its sexual assault statistics in an annual Clery Report. UCD Statistics of sex related crimes may be found here, courtesy of the Campus Violence Prevention Program. Statistics are available at local law enforcement agencies as well. However, rape is the most under-reported crime in the country. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) estimates that 54% of rapes are not reported to law enforcement.
What you can do
Our culture is one in which rape is, if not condoned, then excused. The onus is on the victim to avoid being violated, rather than offender to not participate in violating the victim. While these ideas reinforce the components of a rape culture, the unfortunate reality is that some of these suggestions are helpful. What should also be stated here is that failure to follow these "rules" does not make a victim responsible for their violation.
- Never take a drink from someone, fill it up yourself (unless you're watching a licensed bartender).
- Use the buddy system, watch out for each other and your drinks.
- Use Date Rape Testers if you suspect your drink has been tampered with.
- Only go home with your buddy, a very helpful stranger might have been the one to drug you.
- Never leave your drink alone.
- If you black out or become suddenly intoxicated after a little drinking (less than one) something is wrong.
- If you suspect that you've been assaulted/raped, save your clothing and urine as evidence for the police.
What you can do, Part 2
This list, adapted from Rape Crisis Scotland, challenges the assumptions implicit in rape culture by shifting responsibility for preventing rape from the victim to the perpetrator.
- Don't put drugs in people's drinks.
- When you see someone walking alone, leave them alone.
- Remember to never creep into a woman's home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.
- USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.
- Don't forget: it's not sex with someone who's asleep or unconscious - it's RAPE!
- Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone 'by accident' you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can call for help.
- Don't forget: Honesty is the best policy. If you have every intention of having sex later on with the person you're dating regardless of how they feel about it, tell them directly that there is every chance you will rape them. If you don't communicate your intentions, they may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape them and inadvertently feel safe.
Helpful information for rape survivors and their loved ones
- How to help a loved one.
- WEAVE, a local resource for Yolo and Sacramento County.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1.800.656.HOPE