Date Rape & Grey Zone

DATE RAPE

What is it?

Rape, is sex that is not consented to by you. Date Rape is rape perpetrated by a person you are or have intentions of an intimate relationship with. Just because you have intentions for sexual intimacy, this intimacy still must be by consent, that is you are wanting this intimacy to proceed and are a willing participant. It should not be coerced or forced, if it is, it is Date Rape – and therefore it is Sexual Assault.

Date Rape can occur when you are ‘dating’ and getting to know someone, or can occur as you start to get more intimate with someone, ‘seeing this person’, ‘getting a little serious’, ‘moving out of the friendship zone into the boyfriend/girlfriend zone’.

Sexual Assault is always the fault of the Perpetrator. Unfortunately, society and the current legal system does not always protect the victims of sexual assault and in some countries,  it is not a crime and they treat the victim as having ‘asked for it’.

“Being intoxicated, flirting, wearing a short skirt or dress, and/or walking alone at night is an invitation to be sexually assaulted.”

Nothing is ever an invitation to be sexually assaulted. It is ALWAYS the fault of the person perpetrating harmful sexual behaviour and NEVER the survivor’s.

In an IDEAL world, RAPE is always a CRIME and victims should always be BELIEVED and PROTECTED.  People should have the right to drink alcohol, be flirty, wear whatever they want, walk alone at night and still be safe. Unfortunately, we do not live in this IDEAL world.

Therefore, it is important to consider ways to protect yourself and minimise the risk of Sexual Assault occurring.

 

Let’s look at DATE RAPE specifically.

IMPORTANT FACTS TO NOTE

  • TRUST your INSTINCTS. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, listen to that inner voice.
  • It’s better to be safe than sorry.

RESPECT

–   A person who respects you will respect your wishes.  They will respect that you don’t want to do something or go somewhere when you’re not ready.

  • If he/she is NOT going to respect you NOW they WON’T respect you in the future, so there’s NO reason to hang around and be treated this way.
  • If a person really likes you, they will wait until when you are ready and willing to consent.
  • You need to RESPECT yourself and feel you DESERVE others to also RESPECT you.

(If you have difficulties with this, there may be some personal issues that may need further professional counselling so you don’t repeat bad relationship choices over and over again)

Sex and sexual intimacy should be by CONSENT.

  • If you are feeling pressured, manipulated, guilted or coerced then that is a not a basis for a respectful, healthy relationship.
  • If you have been drugged or are unconscious and unable to say “No”, this is still not by consent and it is rape.

If you HAVE CONSENTED to sex with someone BEFORE, it does NOT give them perpetual rights to your body. If the person forces you to have sex when you do not consent to this, it is rape.

It is far better to be single than be in an unhappy and abusive relationship.

 

WARNING SIGNS:

If a person wants to be alone with you, away from everyone else, there is potentially hidden intentions. Think, if a person just wants to get to know you this can be done in a quite, open location, not a secluded location.)

When a person is trying to get you intoxicated when you have said “NO”.

When physical touch is becoming more than what you are comfortable with.

When a person is not stopping or acknowledging that your body language that says “NO”.

When a person is not stopping to your verbal language that says “NO”.

When a person is not stopping, becoming more aggressive and forceful when you have said “NO”.

 

STRATEGIES TO USE IN SUCH SITUATIONS:

  1. Decline politely not to go to a secluded location. “We are having a good time here so we don’t need to go anywhere else”.
  2. Decline politely another alcoholic drink. “No, thank you” should suffice if the person respects you.  But if you need to be a little dramatic “If I drink anymore I’ll vomit, and that won’t be a pretty sight”.
  3. Slow it down with your body language
    • gently holding or stopping the person’s hand from where you don’t want them to go
    • slow down the ‘heat’ or ‘heaviness’ of your physical touch e.g. rather than tongue kissing, slow it down to light kisses.
    • slow down the caressing and touching in erogenous zones to just hand holding or cuddles.
  1. Disengage in Physical Touch
    • when you move yourself physically from someone it sends a message that you don’t want physical intimacy
  1. Express yourself verbally
    • say “I’m not quite ready for that”, or “Let’s just slow it down”
    • sometimes you have to be clear “NO, Stop that!”. “NO, means NO!”.
    • your body language has to reflect that too, by withdrawing yourself physically from them, buttoning up or redressing yourself sends a clear message.

If the person is not getting the messages, when they are pushing and being aggressive it is a sign they are disrespecting you and moving into that ‘no go zone’- Date Rape.

 

ESCAPE TACTICS:

  1. Subtle tactics – say you need to go to the toilet, or you need some water as you are dehydrated or “my ex-partner cheated on me and had unprotected sex and I’m still waiting for the results if I’m clear for STI or HIV” (this may deter someone from thinking about unprotected, forced sex with you).
  2. More dramatic tactics – pretend to dry wretch, have tummy grumbles or suggest you may vomit or have diarrhoea if you don’t rush to the bathroom ASAP. When you are free, try to leave wherever you are.
  3. Explosive tactics – if you feel there is physical aggression towards you, put up a fight. Sometimes this can deter a perpetrator as they often want to perpetrate a crime as they believe they won’t get hurt or caught. Therefore, if you are putting up a fight, they may feel you are too difficult as they will have a fight on their hands and stop. Get out as quickly as you can. If you feel you are in danger, just get out and find help.

Yes, it is hard in such situations to know which instinctual reaction “fight, flight or freeze” you will muster. Don’t blame yourself if you freeze and your fear of being hurt or even killed in such a situation overwhelms you and you give in. It is still NOT your fault. The perpetrator DOES NOT have to rape you, it is THEIR crime, NOT yours!

 

STRATEGIES TO REDUCE DATE RAPE:

Scenario 1: First Dates – When you do not really know the person and going on initial dates.

  1. a) Public location
    • arrange to meet in a public area, where there are other people around e.g. a cafe, restaurant, busy park etc.
    • do not go to an unfamiliar place or area
  1. b) Daylight hours
  • it’s preferable to meet someone new during daylight hours. If you want to get to know someone it’s better to have a clear sense of who they are rather than the dim lights of a bar or night club, clouded potentially by alcohol and other distractions.
  • if a person is interested in you as a person and not just a sexual object, they would probably be OK with a daytime activity.
  • if you have to meet in the evening, keep it to the early hours of the evening, not midnight and into the wee hours of the morning.
  1. c) Meeting the person at the Location
  • don’t accept a ride to and from where you are going on a date, as you don’t know them you shouldn’t be getting into a car with them or their friends.
  • if you have to, travelling with someone you have just met on public transport at a busy time of day is less risky.
  1. d) Exit strategy
  • make sure you can easily leave if you want to e.g. out of the cafe, restaurant
  • have a taxi or can go to your car/scooter/motorbike without being followed.
  1. e) Give your friends or family the name and contact details of the person you are meeting.
  • it’s very important that someone knows who you will be meeting, their contact details and where you will be meeting – in case something happens they have information.
  • if you have met someone online send your friends or family the URL of their profile page.
  • be careful not to disclose too much personal information, like where you live if you don’t really know the person.
  1. f) Notify a friend or family of what you will be doing, where you will be and when
  • Let a close friend or family member know where you are going, when you are expected to come back.
  • Sometimes your friend can give you a quick call during the middle of your date, just to check if you are OK. You can have a code word to let your friend know if you are OK.
  • If you are not feeling safe, it could be a good reason/excuse to say there is an emergency and you have to leave.
  • Sometimes you may prefer to just give your friend a call or text during the date to say you are OK.
  • At the end of the date it is good to give your friend a call to say you are OK (and I’m sure they would like to hear the gossip on how the date went 😊).
  1. g) Make sure you have your phone with you, it is fully charged and you have credit on your phone in case you need to use it.

 

Scenario 2: Dating – when you are ‘seeing this person’, ‘getting a little serious’, ‘moving out of the friendship zone into the boyfriend/girlfriend’ zone.

  1. Values, what are your values, your beliefs?
    • this is important if you are looking at a relationship with someone, that the person must respect your values and your beliefs.
    • you both should communicate with each other regarding these values and beliefs so you both can understand each other.
    • if you believe in not having sex with someone after the first date or until you are serious, if they truly like you, they will respect this.
  2. Boundaries
  • these are actions which you are willing to accept from someone.
  • knowing what these are for you can help you determine how far you are prepared to allow someone to go and knowing when they have gone too far.
  • Yes, there may be some sexual intimacy involved, but is has to be consenting.

 

  1. Trust
    • do you trust what this person says as evidenced by their actions?
    • do you trust this person to respect your wishes?
    • do you trust this person to have your best interests at heart and not their own?

 

Depending on how truthfully you answer these issues of values, boundaries and trust, this will determine how you engage in activities with this person, to keep you safe and reduce the risks of Date Rape.

 

Therefore,  if you are unsure of the person being able to accept your boundaries, values and don’t know them well enough to trust they have your best interests at heart

  • go slow and test the waters before diving head first.
  • have more dates in the daytime and activities in public areas.
  • If you would like some intimate time, but aren’t ready for sex, go to the movies, have a picnic in a public park or beach. You can still kiss and be physically affectionate but as it’s in a public area there is less likelihood of Date Rape.

 

Yes, you are not to blame if someone perpetrates Date Rape, but there are situations where the risks can be higher if trust has not been established. If the trust isn’t there yet,

  • DON’T go to the person’s home or your home, when there is no one else there.
  • DON’T go into the bedroom and close the bedroom door.
  • DON’T go to a hotel room by yourselves.
  • DON’T go into a car and drive to a secluded destination with them.
  • DON’T go to a secluded destination, e.g. deserted beach, bush walk.

 

There will be situations that are out of your control, no matter what precautions and preventions you have put in place.

 

A perpetrator of Date Rape is a criminal.

 

Punishing yourself for what you could have, should have done and blaming yourself is not helpful for you.

 

Please seek further professional help if you are suffering as a result of Date Rape.

 

Alcohol and other substances

 

These substances are chemicals that are designed to reduce your level of inhibition and your level of control over your actions and thoughts. Some are ‘mind altering chemicals’ and can cause changes in your level of consciousness and make you behave in ways that are uncharacteristic of yourself.

 

When you decide to use alcohol and other substances you also decide to give up your control to others and the environment around you. The more substances you consume the more control you lose.

 

If the people around you respect and care about you and you trust them, then alcohol should not be a problem. You can get a little tipsy and let your hair down and know that you will be in good hands.

 

When you are not sure of the people you are with, reconsider the amount of control you want to give to these people. This will help you decide how much alcohol and other substances you will consume, if at all.

 

No one has the right to assault you whether you are intoxicated or not, but when you are intoxicated you have less control of a situation. Hence when you are in a non-familiar situation be it with certain people or a place, it is best to remain more alert and in control of yourself.

 

In regards to a date, you want to get to know a person and still have some memory of the event. If you are having a drink, make sure it’s only a few and you still have your wits about you. Take little sips of your drink to slow down the pace, if drinking is involved. Or alternate between a glass of water and an alcoholic drink.

 

When the values, boundaries and trust have been established, decide how much alcohol, what locations and where you want to spend time with this person, etc.

 

Tampered drinks / drink Spiking

If you are drinking, you can do a few things to reduce the risk of your drinks being tampered with or being spiked.

  • open your own drinks.
  • watch the bar person prepare your drink and do not accept drinks handed by someone you don’t’ trust or don’t know.
  • keep your drink with you at all times.
  • don’t share drinks with anyone you don’t trust.
  • If you are feeling unwell or light-headed tell a friend or staff at a venue in case your drink may have been spiked.
  • If your drink tastes strange, stop drinking and get rid of it.

 

It is important however, never to blame yourself if your judgment may have been wrong.  You trusted this person and they betrayed you. They are the betrayer, the perpetrator and the criminal. NOT you!

 

The “Grey Zone”

 

This is sex when consent is unclear, “begrudgingly, consensual sex,” or saying “yes” when you really mean “no”, which has been termed “the point of no return,” or when it is easier to have it happen rather than saying “No”.

 

You may sometimes feel you didn’t exactly want to have sex, but because you are in a relationship with someone, or have been sexually intimate at some level, it was easier to let it happen rather than saying “No”.

 

It is very important not to confuse your communication. When you say “Yes”, “Yes, must mean Yes” and when you say “No”, “No, must mean No”. This ensures a clear line of consent and a person knows what you say is what you mean and to respect that.

 

Consent can be given and can also be withdrawn at anytime. When “Yes” has been said but then as intimacy builds you can make the choice where consent is withdrawn and then “No” means “No” to further sexual encounter.

 

So if you are feeling uncomfortable with a particular activity or position then “No”, should mean “No” and the person should stop. As sex is a physical act communicating intimacy, there should be mutual two way dialogue. It’s about respecting each other’s body and acknowledging the sexual encounter is by consent.

 

Remember just because you have given consent before, it doesn’t mean that person has continued access to your body, each sexual activity or encounter is by consent.

 

The next step to understand is why is it harder to say “No” as opposed to “let it happen”. Why is saying “No” harder than just letting your partner have their way when you are ‘tired”, “not in the mood”, a little too intoxicated to “be actively involved” in the midst of sex and “desperately wanting out, but it was easier to lie there and wait for it to be over”.  This is very complex and would involve exploring the intimate relationship between the persons involved and discussing why mutual respect and communication is not freely expressed in the relationship.

 

Reporting

 

There are many understandable reasons why survivors don’t report date rape and it is totally up to them if they want to or not. Reasons may include:

 

Fear of not being believed, feelings of shame, fear of the offender, blaming themselves, the nature of the relationship with the offender, fear of the effect on their family, fear of or not trusting the legal system.

 

If these issues are affecting you and you are not finding the support you need with your friends and family, don’t be ashamed to seek support through professional counselling.

 

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