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Women: Are You Vulnerable to Date Rape?

Alternatives to Vulnerability

  • Being an active partner in a relationship. When arranging to be with someone, where to meet, what to do, and when to be intimate should all be shared decisions.
  • Know your sexual intentions and limits. You have the right to say "No" to any unwanted sexual contact. If you are uncertain about what you want, ask the man to respect your feelings.
  • Communicate your limits firmly and directly. If you say "No", say it like you mean it. Don't give mixed messages. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language.
  • Don't rely on "ESP" to get your message across. Don't assume that your date will automatically know how you feel, or will eventually "get the message" without your having to tell him.
  • Remember that some men think that drinking heavily, dressing provocatively, or going to a man's room indicates a willingness to have sex. Be especially careful to communicate your limits and intentions clearly in such situations.
  • Listen to you gut feelings. If you feel uncomfortable or think you may be at risk, leave the situation immediately and go to a safe place.
  • Don't be afraid to "make waves" if you feel threatened. If you feel you are being pressured or coerced into sexual activity against your will, don't hesitate to state your feelings and get out of the situation. Better a few minutes of social awkwardness or embarrassment than the trauma of sexual assault.
  • Attend large parties with friends you can trust. Agree to "look out" for one another. Try to leave with a group, rather than alone or with someone you don't know very well.

When we think about alternatives to vulnerability, we must be careful not to assume that there is always something a woman "could have done" to prevent an assault. This is blaming the victim. When a person is sexually assaulted, it is the assaulter who is to blame. In addition, sexual assaults, including those committed by acquaintances, may be violent and unexpected. This means that even when a woman is able to assert what she wants, there is no guarantee that her feelings will be respected.

There are no formulas that can guarantee our safety from sexual assault. In a situation that is becoming coercive or violent, the moment is often too confusing to plan an escape, and women react in various ways. Some will fight back. Others will not fight back for any number of reasons such as fear, self-blame, or not wanting to hurt someone who may be a close friend. While fighting and giving up are both extreme reactions, it is important to realize that any reaction is legitimate. Again, the burden of responsibility must be on the attacker, not the victim.

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, December 11). Women: Are You Vulnerable to Date Rape?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/sex/date-rape/are-you-vulnerable-to-date-rape

Last Updated: June 27, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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