Acquaintance Rape Essay, Research Paper
When I started college, husband was very concerned about my security on campus. He warned me not to walk alone at night, not to talk to anyone I didn’t recognize, and to be very aware of my surroundings. This is good advice for anyone. Many women are afraid of the person in the shadows awaiting their unsuspecting victim. In most campus rape cases, a stranger is not involved. I was surprised to find out that 75% of all rape cases are committed by an acquaintance of the victim. By acquaintance, I mean that the victim may not even know the person’s name. The perpetrator could easily be someone who was met at a party or a guy that is passed on the way to class.
Although acquaintance rape is a problem among women of all ages, it is especially prevalent among college women, because they are in the same age range as the bulk of rape victims and offenders. Most victims are between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four. Of the arrested rapists 45% are under the age of twenty-five. Unfortunately, the rape report rate for this crime on campuses is only 6%.
The reason the report rate is so low is that in an acquaintance rape situation, the victim knows her attacker. This knowledge may in fact encourage her, and others, to attribute more blame to the victim, especially if she fails to resist immediately. Because of certain doubts, the victim is very hesitant to report the incident. One doubt would be if the aggressor were led to believe that the victim wanted sex. The other would be who would believe the victim even if there were no miscommunication. With no bruises or proof of violence, rape is difficult to prove. Women can also be forced by verbal coercion, the use of menacing verbal pressure, or misuse of authority.
There are several causes that lead a man to rape a woman. The major causes that I will highlight are alcohol, miscommunication, and sex-role attitudes.
Many people believe that a couple of beers will be okay on a date. This may be true, but becoming fully intoxicated can be extremely dangerous. Studies show that 55% of college men and 53% of college women that had experienced a sexually aggressive date had used alcohol directly before the assault occurred. Drinking alcohol has many effects on the body. Although it has little effect on sexual arousal, it does improve mood, decrease motor skills, and increase aggressive behavior. Men who want to rape but feel guilty may use alcohol as a mechanism that releases this inhibition. And because of the loss of their inhibitions and motor control, women will not be able to fight back or may even consent. But even if consent is given, the charge of rape can still be used in court. Impaired judgment of the victim could help the accusation stick. A complication to this is alcohol also impairs the memory process. Neither the victim nor the perpetrator could have completely clear recollections of the incident, which could add to many gray areas.
Robin told me she was raped one night on a date, after she had, had a few drinks. ?It all happened so fast, I was pretty drunk so later I found myself questioning whether it was really rape. I didn?t want to, but maybe I made him think I did. He didn?t physically hurt me it was how he made me feel inside the hurt. I never reported it. I just wanted to forget it. I still she him around, it still hurts.?
Miscommunication is another cause of rape. The man may believe that the woman wants to have intercourse when she does not. However, there must be other reasons along with communication to cause the rape. Otherwise the man would stop when the woman says she is not interested. Maybe he has an attitude of hostility and anger. The idea he has been led on may aggravate him enough to rape. It is also possible that interpersonal violence is acceptable in the man’s mind and he does not believe there is anything wrong with rape. But I think one of the biggest reasons for miscommunication is the rape myth acceptance. Examples of rape myths are statements like “She wanted sex because she went up to that guy’s room. How many girls do you know go to a guy’s room just to talk?” If a man believes this, he may think the woman wants sex even when she says no. And if the woman believes these myths, she may think that she is to blame when she is not. Further complications occur when the woman does not resist right away. Regardless of when the resistance occurs, all unwanted sexual actions after it could be considered assault or even rape.
When I was in junior high I had a girlfriend named Patty. One night her and some friends went to a party where there were some older boys. One of them Joe, was someone we all knew well. He was a friend?s older brother; good looking, funny, charming, we all had crushes on him. Patty may have been flattered by the attention he paid her; she had a couple of beers, smoked some pot and ended up in his room. Later she accused him of raping her. I believed her. Others didn?t. They taunted her and her sister in school, spread rumors, and called her a snitch. A month later her family moved away, I never heard from her again.
Another reason a male may become aggressive is because he holds traditional sex-role attitudes. He believes that the man should decide whether or not to have intercourse, especially if he pays for and initiates the date. Along these lines is the need for a man to prove his manhood to himself and to his peers. This is particularly true with men in fraternities. Research with a college population showed that men in fraternities admit a greater use of verbal coercion, alcohol, and mild physical force to obtain sex than independent college men. The man gains support for his attitudes and keeps them. A chilling example of this is a scene in the movie the ?The Accused?. In it, Jodie Foster is at a bar, wearing a short skirt, no bra, drinking, dancing, and wanting to party. Suddenly the scene shifts and you become witness to a brutal, horrifying rape scene where she is held down on a pinball machine and viciously and repeatedly raped by 3 men as a crowd of men hoot, holler, and cheer them on. This isn?t just a scene from a movie, it?s based on fact and it isn?t an isolated incident.
Many women believe they will never be raped. We are convinced that rape will only happen to the girls who “ask for it.” This rape myth along with others is one of the reasons a rapist catches so many women off guard. And because so many rapes are by acquaintances, many go unreported. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell if a man will be aggressive against a woman. If it were as easy as just staying away from that creepy guy in the 8:00 English class, for example, acquaintance rape would probably not be such a problem.
There are three kinds of acquaintance rape relevant to a date rape situation: beginning, early, and relational rape. They are described both in terms of length of the relationship and previous sexual activity. It is important to remember that just because a couple previously had intercourse does not mean that sex is always consented. It has been determined that 30% of raped college women were raped by their boyfriends, while 21% were raped early in the relationship. Strangers, nonromantic acquaintances, and husbands accounted for the other 49%.
Beginning dater rape is the form of rape that happens within the first few dates while the couple is still getting to know each other. In this case, the perpetrator probably thinks that he will have a better chance of not being accused of rape because he knows his victim. The date is more of a plot to get the female alone and take advantage.
Early date rape is after several dates. This is still before sex has been discussed. A major cause of this form is miscommunication. One common reason for miscommunication is the “rape myths” of our society. Rape myths are statements such as: “She deserved to get raped because that outfit was way too tight.? Men who believe these myths might misread some of the women’s signals and not take no for an answer. However, miscommunication probably is not the only problem this early in the relationship.
Relational rape occurs later in the relationship. Miscommunication is not likely in this form because attitudes and values toward sex are established. Men in this situation tend to rape to keep control. They may feel it is a sign of love or commitment. Or perhaps, they just think it would be romantic to have a night that would be appropriate in a steamy novel. Regardless of intentions, one should remember that forced sex is still rape.
My friend Maria had been dating Benny for a year. She had decided not to have sex until she was married. Benny and Maria started having problems in their relationship. He was always pressuring her to have sex, she held fast to her decision. He became increasingly jealous and violent, accusing her of wanting other men, throwing things at her. She met with him one night to break it off. Benny wouldn?t take no for an answer this time, he raped her. Because she thought she had loved him, and because she felt that maybe she was at fault and had lead him to it, pushing him over the edge by breaking up with him, she never reported the rape. She told me later, ?How can you be raped by your boyfriend, who would believe me about something like that? I know he?s sorry he did it. He just wanted to hold on so bad, and I just wouldn?t let him. I think I went to far and maybe I am partly to blame.?