IONA

Acquaintance Rape and Sexual Assault on Campus

What is acquaintance rape?

It is the act of forcing sex on a person perpetrated by someone they know. The perpetrator may be a friend, a classmate, a fellow resident, or even a romantic partner. Often, acquaintance rape is a premeditated act. The perpetrator sets up the situation and ignores the other person's protests. Generally, the perpetrator denies guilt and responsibility afterwards. You should be aware that even if an actual rape (penetration) did not occur, if other unwanted sexual acts have taken place, you have still been sexually assaulted.

The emotional consequences can be very serious and long lasting. Victims feel traumatized, frightened, distrustful of people and hesitate to form new relationships. They may develop sexual problems and fears regarding intimacy that persist for the rest of their lives. Physically, women are exposed to the possibility of becoming pregnant, and all victims are exposed to the possibility of contracting herpes, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Why should female students be particularly concerned about acquaintance rape and sexual assault?

First-year college women are the most likely group to become victims of acquaintance rape and of sexual assault in our country. Although college students, in general, are less likely than their non-college attending peer group to become victims of violent crimes, the one exception is sexual assault.

Why should male students be concerned about acquaintance rape and sexual assault?

Males can be victims of sexual assault as well. Though most often males are the perpetrators of acquaintance rape and sexual assault, most men are not rapists. They are good guys who want to have healthy relationships with others. It is especially important for men to make it clear to other men that they will not tolerate their friends, classmates, sisters and girlfriends being sexually abused. Men, as well as women, must take responsibility for making the campus community safe for everyone.

Why do acquaintance rape and sexual assault occur?

  • it usually occurs in conjunction with alcohol or other drug use
  • some students still believe that when someone says "no" she or he doesn't really mean it
  • some students still believe that it's O.K. to use manipulation, coercion, or force to get what they want
  • some students still deny that they are really inflicting pain on unwilling sexual partners
  • some students still believe that they are not responsible for their behavior when they are high or intoxicated
  • some students still believe they "owe" a partner sex in exchange for paying for a date
  • some students still believe that they have to give in to a partner's demand for sex
  • some students don't know how to take responsibility for their own safety

How can acquaintance rape and sexual assault be prevented?

Students should:

  • be aware of the impact of alcohol and other drugs on their behavior
  • know that they are fully responsible for their behavior even when they are intoxicated
  • discuss their sexual intentions and get clear consent
  • be sober and clearheaded around peers they don't know well
  • not assume that previous sexual contact means automatic permission now
  • not assume that a peer being alone with them means that she or he wants sex
  • get away from peers that seem threatening
  • go out on group or double dates with peers they don't know well
  • avoid secluded places, and never walk home late at night by themselves
  • not leave a friend behind at a bar or party especially when the friend is intoxicated
  • have their own money or transportation on dates with peers they don't know well
  • reject stereotypes that define females as passive and helpless and males as aggressive and dominant
  • accept that "no" means "no"; and
  • never use manipulation, coercion or force in order to have sex

What can men and women do together to prevent acquaintance rape and sexual assault?

  • regard each other as friends and partners
  • demand decent behavior from everyone in the campus community
  • create their own programs for dealing with sexual assault awareness and prevention, including the impact of drugs and alcohol
  • create their own programs for helping male and female students understand each other better
  • reject stereotypes that harm both males and females
  • become responsible bystanders and intervene when they see a peer taking advantage of another peer
  • create a community of trust

What should you do if you are the victim of acquaintance rape or a sexual assault?

  • get help immediately
  • go to a hospital, a rape crisis center or a physician's office
  • inform campus authorities and the police even if you are not sure that you want to press charges; individuals who sexually assault others tend to do so repeatedly; your information can help past or future victims of the same individual who are pressing charges
  • consider pressing charges; this person is not your friend; he or she is a sexual predator; you can help to stop that person from hurting other individuals
  • get counseling to talk out your feelings now and to prevent long-term psychological problems in the future
  • do not blame yourself and
  • do whatever you need to do to stop being a victim and start being a survivor

How can you support a friend who has been a victim of acquaintance rape or of a sexual assault?

  • get her or him to a medical facility
  • help her or him get other support (from an RA, counselor, police and student health services)
  • let her or him talk it out
  • don't blame her or him and
  • preserve her or his confidentiality

Resources:

  • Your Resident Assistant - (914) 633-2336
  • Counseling Center - (914) 633-2038
  • Campus Safety and Security - (914) 633-2245
  • Office of Student Development - (914) 633-2360
  • Health Services - (914) 633-2548
  • Victims Assistance Services of Westchester - (914) 345-3113
  • 24-hour Rape Crisis Helpline - (914) 345-9111
  • New Rochelle Police Department - (914) 654-2300
  • Sound Shore Medical Center - (914) 632-5000