South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

Date rape

For Family & Friends, Female Survivors, Male Survivors, Students, Teachers, Workers

Tags: Rape

This article is written for women and assumes a male offender, however SECASA acknowledges that both men and women can be survivors of sexual abuse and that offenders can be male and female.

This information sheet is for people aged 16 and over
In Australia an estimated 16% of women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 by someone they know compared to 5% of women who, since the age of 15, have experienced sexual violence by a stranger. 5.9% of women have experienced sexual violence by a boyfriend/girlfriend or date since the age 15. (Australian Bureau of Statistics - Personal Safety, Australia, 2012)

Date rape is when someone is sexually assaulted when they are on a date. This can be with someone they have met before or for the first time. Date rape can happen to anyone. Both women and men can be raped on a date, and offenders can be male or female.

Date rape can be especially common among young people who have had little sexual experience and aren’t sure that what they have experienced crosses the line into rape. Many victims of date rape can feel pressure not to report the crime, or feel embarrassed or responsible for the attack.

What is rape?

Rape is sex you don’t agree to. It includes someone forcing any body part or object into your vagina, rectum, or mouth.

Physical harm can include:

  • broken bones, bruises, cuts, and other injuries from acts of violence
  • injuries to genitals and/or rectum
  • being exposed to sexually transmissible infections, such as HIV, herpes, gonorrhoea and syphilis; and
  • pregnancy.

Emotional harm can include:

  • fear
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • trust issues
  • shame
  • embarrassment
  • guilt
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • relationship problems
  • difficulty enjoying sex
  • flashbacks
  • nightmares
  • insomnia.

Consent

Everyone has the right to set their own sexual limits, and to change those limits as they wish. If someone genuinely cares for you, they will respect those limits and not force themselves on you.

Consent has to be freely given.

You have not given consent if you:

  • went along with the sex because of force or you were scared that force would be used
  • were held captive
  • were too scared to say no
  • felt pressured in any way
  • were asleep, unconscious or too drunk or under the influence of drugs to provide informed consent; or
  • did not understand what was happening.

And remember, rape is not about sex. Rape is a violent act that involves sexual activity. Rape is against the law, and it is always wrong.

If you are raped, it is never your fault. Rape is the fault of the person who decided to rape you.

Rape – including date rape – is a criminal offence, which means it is considered a serious crime by our society.

Can men be raped too?

Yes. Rape is about power and control, and it can happen to anyone.

For most men the idea of being a victim is hard to handle. Men usually believe that they will be able to defend themselves. Beliefs about "manliness" and "masculinity" are deeply ingrained for most men and can lead to intense feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy because they did not fight off the attacker.

How can you protect yourself from date rape?

Below are some things you can do to avoid situations where date rape is more likely to occur.

  1. Stay in well-lit public places.
  2. Don’t drink on an empty stomach
  3. Be aware of the alcohol content of your drink
  4. If you feel unwell tell a friend or staff if you are at a venue
  5. Pace your drinks
  6. Keep an eye on your drink if possible
  7. Make sure you have phone credit and taxi fare
  8. Take a jacket for when you leave
  9. Let friends know who you’re leaving with
  10. Tell friends who your date is with and where you are going to meet them

Why is it important to protect your drink?

If you drink spirits that are hard to taste with a mixer, people can add additional alcohol to your drink. There are also drugs that can be dropped into your drink however most incidents are facilitated using alcohol.

You can minimise your chances of having your drink tampered with. Things you can do include:

  1. opening your own drinks
  2. not letting other people hand you drinks
  3. keeping your drink with you at all times
  4. not sharing drinks
  5. not drinking anything that doesn’t smell or taste right 
  6. go to clubs or parties with someone you trust, and looking out for each other.

What can you do if you’re feeling unsafe on a date?

  1. Trust your instincts. If things don’t feel right, leave.
  2. Don’t be embarrassed or like you’re being rude if you refuse to go back to someone’s place or to get into their car. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  3. Use code words on the phone that you and your family/friends decide on ahead of time. If you are in trouble, say the code word so that your family/friend knows you can't talk openly and need to be picked up right away.
  4. Don't be afraid to sound rude if you get a bad feeling about your date. Stay calm, firmly end the date and leave.
  5. Remember that you do not have to share personal information on a date. Be wary about giving someone you’ve just met details about where you work, where you live or who you live with, even if your date tells you this information about themself (they may be lying).
  6. If you are worried or nervous about your date get help. Speak to security guards with nametags and badges, go to an information desk at public places like the mall or theatre, if you’re at a restaurant ask the staff to call you a taxi and escort you to it or to call the police.

What should you do if you’ve been raped?

If you have been raped, you can call 000 straight away to report it to the police or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292 (Victoria only) or 1800 RESPECT (Australia wide)..

If you’re going to report:

Don’t shower, wash any part of your body, or change clothes before getting help. You could lose valuable evidence that could be used to charge your rapist with the crime.

Try not to urinate until after you have had a urine test. This test can show whether you have been drugged, but these drugs can leave your system within 12 hours so it’s important to run tests as soon as possible.

If you report you will be given a forensic medical examination to check your body for any injury, and you will be given tests for sexually transmitted infections. You will also be offered emergency contraception to ensure you don’t get pregnant. You can have a Just In Case Medical without reporting to the police at SECASA. This allows forensic evidence to be collected which will be held for 6 months while you decide what you want to do.

The hospital or police can put you in touch with a counsellor or a support group that can help you come to terms with what has happened, and find a way to heal. A counsellor can also help you to tell people in your life – such as your parents – what has happened, if that’s what you want.

You can report to the police at any time in Victoria. Contact the Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT). You can find your local SOCIT unit on their website.

For support, you can:

  1. contact Sexual Assault Crisis Line (www.sacl.com.au) Tel. 1800 806 29 from anywhere in Victoria, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  2. call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 from anywhere in Australia to speak with a counsellor, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you don’t want to tell anyone (police or a counsellor at a Centre Against Sexual Assault), it is important that you get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). If you don’t have a GP that you trust, you can attend the Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic for free.

You can report anonymously using SECASA’s Sexual Assault Report Anonymously (SARA) website (www.sara.org.au).

Remember…

  • Rape occurs when someone forces or manipulates you into having sex with them when you haven’t consented to that sex.
  • Rape can happen to anyone – females and males. 
  • Rape is always wrong and against the law.
  • If you are raped, it is never your fault.
  • You are entitled to contact the police or access counselling without police involvement or to do nothing.

Where to get help

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