Acquaintance and Date Rape

The topic of date rape is talked about frequently in relation to college students, but much less so with regard to younger girls. Nevertheless, it is a serious problem of which adolescent and Avoiding Date Rapeteen girls must be aware. The Bureau of Justice Statistics says that girls age 15 to 24 are four times more likely to be the victim of acquaintance rape than any other age group. Parents and caregivers can help young women avoid being attacked and prepare them for what to do if they are confronted with assault.

Definitions of Date Rape and Sexual Assault

Acquaintance or date rape is defined as any type of non-consensual sexual contact in which a girl or woman is familiar with her attacker. Sexual assault expands the definition to include inappropriate touching, attempted sexual contact and child molestation. Most experts also include verbal sexual harassment, voyeurism and perpetrator exhibitionism in this definition as well. In what are perhaps the most disturbing statistics related to this subject, more than 25 percent of women and 84 percent of men involved in a date rape were not aware that their experience qualified as date rape under the law. For this reason, experts are adamant that parents must do more to educate girls on this issue and prepare them in the event they are violated.

Avoiding Date Rape

The most effective advice recommended by experts is for girls and young women to avoid being alone or in a secluded place with someone they don’t know well or with whom they aren’t comfortable. Avoiding alcohol at these times is also critical. At a party or in a public place, teens must open their own drinks and keep any food or beverage in their possession at all times (even when visiting the restroom) to avoid being drugged. Attending parties and events with a trusted friend or sibling is an excellent way for girls to protect themselves. This also gives them an easy “out” to avoid being alone with casual acquaintances. Teach girls how to be assertive and clear in expressing their wishes, especially how to say (or scream) the words “STOP!” and “NO!”

What to Do if Your Daughter Has Been Raped

No parent or child is ever prepared for the physical and emotional devastation of sexual assault, but it’s helpful to know what to do next, should the unthinkable happen. Advise your daughter to call 911 and get to safety as soon as possible, and to avoid washing up, bathing, showering or urinating until a medical professional can examine her. Valuable evidence may be lost otherwise. As an alternative, locate a rape crisis center in your community and put their contact information in both your and your daughter’s cell phones. Rape crisis calls are anonymous and confidential, and counselors are trained to help girls who have been victimized. It is critical to seek out a counseling professional as well, as quickly as possible. The first hours and days after an assault are extremely traumatic. Early psychological intervention provides a better chance for a successful emotional recovery.

Adolescent and teen girls who have been the victims of an attack are at risk of developing PTSD, anxiety, depression or a number of other mental and emotional health challenges. Havenwood Academy provides effective interventions for girls and young women in a residential treatment setting. If your daughter has been the victim of acquaintance or date rape, contact them today to learn more.