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Date Rape


What Is Date Rape?

When people think of rape, they might picture a stranger jumping out of a shadowy place and attacking someone. But in reality about half of all people who are raped know the person who attacked them. This is known as date rape — forced sex that can happen on a date but also somewhere like a party with someone the victim may know, like, or even be interested in.

Girls and women are more likely to be raped, but it can also happen to guys. It's not just men who rape. In rare cases, women rape, too.

Who Can Help

Being good friends, talking to someone, dating, or hooking up usually don't lead to violence or rape. But it can happen, so it's best to be prepared.

Here are three key things to know about rape:

  1. The person who gets raped is not to blame. Rape is always the rapist's fault. People never "ask for it" because of the clothes they wear or the way they act. If sex is forced against someone's will, it's rape. That's true even when two people are dating or married — even if they've had sex before. You never "owe" someone sex, even if you're a couple.
  2. Rape is not always violent. If you say "no," but the person doesn't respect your wishes and talks you into something that you don't want, it's rape. 
  3. Rape is not about sex or passion. Forced sex is an act of violence and aggression. It has nothing to do with love. Healthy relationships are about respect. Someone who really cares about you will respect your wishes and not force or pressure you to do anything sexual without your agreement.

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and drugs can play a role in date rapes. Drinking can loosen inhibitions, reduce common sense, and — for some people — allow aggressive tendencies to surface.

Drugs can take away your ability to be in control or get help. You may have heard about "date rape" drugs like:

These drugs can be mixed in to drinks and are almost impossible to detect, especially in dark-colored drinks such as cola or dark beer, or in a dark room. These drugs make people feel weak and confused and can cause them to pass out and forget everything that happened while they were on the drug.

These drugs are powerful and dangerous, and mixing them with alcohol is especially dangerous. People can end up dead if they're given a date rape drug when they've been drinking.

Protect Yourself

The best defense against date rape is to try to prevent it. Here are some things you can do:

Getting Help

If you are pressured into any type of sex or have been raped, or you wake up and are not sure what happened to you, here are some things that you can do:

Immediately After a Rape

Up to 72 Hours After a Rape

More Than 72 Hours After a Rape

Reporting a Rape

The sooner a rape is reported, the better. Quick reporting increases the chances that rapists will be caught and can prevent them from hurting someone else.

If you're not sure about reporting a rape because you know the person, you can talk to a counselor at your local rape crisis center to find out what to do. You can report a rape months or, in some states, even years after it happens. Different states have different rules. To find out more about rape laws in your area, go to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website (www.rainn.org).

Rape isn't just physically damaging — it can be emotionally traumatic as well. It may be hard to think or talk about something as personal as being raped by someone you know. A trained rape crisis counselor or other mental health professional can give you the right care and support to begin the healing process. Working things through can help prevent lingering problems later on.

Date reviewed: October 2014


Note: All information on TeensHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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