Dr. Linda Helps - Courtney first met Jerry at a fraternity party. He seemed like a nice guy and so she agreed to go out with him. A month into dating, Jerry started pressuring her to have sex. Courtney was not interested in a sexual relationship based on her values. When she explained her position, Jerry became angry and started to physically overpower her. Courtney was frightened by his response and tried to leave his doom room. Jerry blocked the door and raped her. She screamed. But no one heard her. As he pulled himself off of her, he said, “That will teach you to tease me.” Traumatized, Courtney stumbled out of the dorm. Ashamed, she told no one.
Date rape is real. It involves a coercive sexual encounter. Date rape or acquaintance rape is probably most talked about on college campuses. It is estimated that 20% of college women have been victims of rape or attempted rape. These women usually know the rapist. In fact, Kent State psychology professor Mary Koss conducted a survey in which 100% of the men who reported forcing sex on a woman said they knew the victim.
One reason this violent crime continues has to do with cultural norms that condone sexual violence. Male aggression is acceptable. Typically we think of rapist as psychotic and severely disturbed. But research on date rape shows that these rapist are “normal” men who take sanctioned norms of violence and act them out on women, often feeling it is there right to demand sex. Violent media and pornographic material support the view of women as objects to be dominated and abused. Women are frequently the targets of male aggression.
If you poll college freshmen and sophomore women, you will find that many have had unwanted attempts at intercourse by men they knew on campus. Most of the women do not report the attack to campus authorities and blame themselves.
Date rape is an act of violence no matter how you try to spin it. Men who rape use sex as the weapon of attack. Nothing can justify this violation of another person. Women do not provoke rape. They do not give unconscious messages that they want to be sexually dominated by men. Violence is not secretly enjoyed. And they cannot always escape their attacker.
Rape humiliates women and is a highly traumatizing. The fall out from rape can include anxiety, depression, sexual difficulties, family tensions, work and social adjustment problems, withdrawal, self-condemnation, apathy and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Victims often feel ashamed, guilty, worthless, violated, dirty, vulnerable and fearful. Most wonder why God did not protect them from such a horrific event. It is normal to be angry with God and confused.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of date rape, the incident needs to be reported. You are not at fault and need help dealing with the aftermath of rape. Contact a therapist or campus authority and get help so you can begin to heal from the trauma.
Dr. Mintle – author, professor, Approved Supervisor and Clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy – is a speaker and media personality, as well as a licensed clinical social worker with over twenty years in psychotherapy practice.
Picture: Andrea Simonato
Linda S. Mintle, Ph.D. - Dr. Linda HelpsPrintable View