What You Need to Know About Date Rape

by | Apr 26, 2022 | General Health

This article may be a trigger for anyone who has experienced sexual abuse. Please only continue reading if you feel you are in the right headspace.

For Australian women, date rape is a real danger. It’s not just a myth spread by parents using scare tactics to control their daughters. With 2.2 million (23%) Australian women reporting experiences of sexual violence in their lifetime, date rape can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at almost any time. If you’re a woman in Australia, it’s not only smart to acquaint yourself with the information on what every woman needs to know about date rape. It’s completely necessary. So, consider it your duty to read up and share with your friends.

What is date rape?

In Australian legal terminology, the term “rape” has broadly been replaced with the term “sexual assault”. Every jurisdiction in Australia has its own definition and legislation for sexual assault. To take an umbrella approach, sexual assault is the term that covers any form of non-consensual sexual behaviour that makes a person feel uncomfortable, scared, or threatened. Sexual assault can involve penetration of the genitals, rectum, or mouth by a penis, other body part, or object.

Also known as acquaintance rape or relationship rape, date rape is a form of sexual assault that occurs when the victim and offender are currently in, or have been, in some degree of personal relationship. This can range from a first date through to an established relationship, and even marriage. Women are eight times more likely than men to experience sexual assault by an intimate partner (8.4% of women compared with 1.1% of men). Therefore women are most likely to be at risk of date rape. Sexual assault and date rape are both recognised as criminal offences in Australia.

How can you protect yourself from date rape?

In knowing that women are more likely to experience date rape through the actions of a known person rather than a stranger, it’s important to learn how to protect yourself from date rape.

Ways to protect yourself from date rape:

  • Always tell your friends or family the details of any planned dates, especially those initiated via online dating apps. Include the details of who you are meeting, where you are meeting, the time you expect to arrive home and your date’s profile URL and phone number if you’ve met online.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and your phone bills are always paid up to date to avoid being disconnected by your mobile provider.
  • Plan to meet in public, well-lit places where you’re less likely to be isolated.
  • If your date’s appearance doesn’t align with their online profile, contact a friend asap, and leave.
  • If your ‘gut instincts’ are firing warning signals, don’t ignore them. Leave the date immediately.
  • If you meet someone when you’re out, let your friends know who you’re leaving with.
  • Avoid letting the person you’re meeting pick you up or drop you off at your home or work address. Arrange to meet them at the venue.
  • Be aware of your alcohol consumption and pace yourself, making sure you drink water in between drinks.
  • Avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Protect your drinks. Never leave your drinks out of sight, and if you lose sight, buy a fresh drink.
  • Minimise your risk of drink spiking by not letting other people handle your drinks, not sharing drinks, and always keeping your drink with you, even when you visit the restroom.
  • If you suddenly feel unwell or light-headed, let your friends, venue staff, or security know as soon as possible.

Remember, if you are raped, it is never your fault. Sexual assault is a serious crime in Australia, and rape is always the fault of the offender.

What to do if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable during a date?

If your date turns sour, or something just doesn’t feel right:

  • Trust your instincts and leave immediately.
  • Do not be afraid of feeling rude, awkward, embarrassed, or making the person you’re on a date with feel uncomfortable. Your safety must come first. If your date is a decent person, they’ll understand your actions and respect your decision to back yourself in an uncertain situation.
  • Before your date, establish code words to message your friends or family to signal when help or an urgent pick-up is required.
  • Remain in public spaces nearby security until you’ve met up with a friend, family member or taxi service.
  • If you feel unsafe or unable to leave without your date getting angry or causing a scene, try to alert venue staff that you need help.
  • Contact the police.
  • When it comes to dating and meeting up with people you’ve met online, always maintain a ‘better to be safe’ mentality. Never feel embarrassed, shy, or ashamed to put yourself first and abort any situation in which you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

What should you do if you’ve been date raped?

If you’ve experienced sexual assault in any form:

  • Call the police on #000 if you’re in danger or worried about your safety
  • Call 1800-RESPECT or 1800-737-732 for Australia-wide support
  • Contact the sexual assault helpline for your state or territory:
  1. Australian Capital Territory – Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (02 6247 2525)
  2. New South Wales – NSW Rape Crisis (1800 424 017)
  3. Northern Territory – NT Government Sexual Assault Referral Centres page
  4. Queensland – Sexual Assault Helpline (1800 010 120)
  5. South Australia – Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service (1800 817 421)
  6. Tasmania – Sexual Assault Support Service (1800 697 877)
  7. Western Australia – Sexual Assault Resource Centre (08 6458 1828 or 1800 199 888)

If you plan on reporting the rape, you will be given a forensic medical examination to assess your body for injury. You may also undergo testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and be offered emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. If you plan to report the rape, do not shower, wash any part of your body, or change clothes before seeking help. This is to avoid losing valuable evidence that could be used to charge your rapist. Try not to urinate until you’ve had a urine test as this test can show traces of date rape drugs. Most date rape drugs leave your system within 12 hours, so it’s vital to act quickly if you’re able to do so.

Sources:

Sexual Violence – Victimisation | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)

Date rape: a hidden crime (aic.gov.au)

Sexual assault and rape – helplines, definition, reporting | healthdirect

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