Protecting Against Acquaintance Rape
Protecting Against Acquaintance Rape: Helpful Steps
- Listen carefully. Take the time to hear what a potential romantic partner is saying. If you feel they are not being direct or giving you a "mixed message," ask for clarification.
- Don't fall for the common stereotype that when a partner says "No" they really mean "Yes." "No" means "No." If someone says "No" to sexual contact, believe them and stop immediately.
- Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.
- Don't make assumptions about a potential romantic partner's behavior. Don't automatically assume that someone wants to have sex just because they drink heavily, dress provocatively, or agree to go to your room. Don't assume that just because a partner has had sex with you previously they willing to have sex with you again. Also don't assume that just because a partner consents to kissing or other sexual intimacies they are willing to have sexual intercourse.
- Be aware that having sex with someone who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent is rape. If you have sex with someone who is drugged, intoxicated, passed out, incapable of saying "No," or unaware of what is happening around them, you may be guilty of rape.
- Be especially careful in group situations. Be prepared to resist pressure from friends to participate in violent or criminal acts.
- "Get involved" if you believe someone is at risk. If you see someone in trouble at a party or someone using force or pressuring an individual, regardless of your relationship with them, don't be afraid to intervene. You may save that person from the trauma of sexual assault and your friend from the ordeal of criminal prosecution.
- Know your sexual intentions and limits. You have the right to say "No" to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain about what you want, ask the individual to respect your feelings.
- Communicate your limits firmly and directly. If you are not interested in sexual contact, say "No” and try not to give mixed messages. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language.
- Don't assume that your date will automatically know how you feel, or will eventually "get the message" without verbally expressing your feelings.
- Remember that some people think that drinking heavily, dressing provocatively, or going to a potential partner’s room indicates a willingness to have sex. Be especially careful to communicate your limits and intentions clearly in such situations.
- Listen to your gut feelings. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, leave the situation immediately and go to a safe place.
- Don't be afraid to "make waves" if you feel threatened. If you feel you are being pressured or coerced into sexual activity against your will, don't hesitate to state your feelings and attempt to get out of the situation. Better a few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment than the trauma of sexual assault.
- Attend large parties with friends you can trust. Agree to "look out" for one another. Try to leave with a group, rather than alone or with someone you don't know very well.
All individuals should be especially careful in situations involving the use of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drugs can interfere with your ability to assess situations and to communicate effectively. Additionally, it is important to note that sexual violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, age, or ability status. Sexual violence is serious, and it is important to discuss these issues with those around you and take steps to help keep you and those around you safe.
The handout "Prevention Information" is published by the Rape Treatment Center, Santa Monica Hospital Medical Center, 1250 Sixteenth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 - (310) 319-4000. Reprinted with permission.