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Precautions to Protect Against Date or Acquaintance Rape

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There are actions you can take to reduce the risk of being involved in acquaintance rape. While there are no foolproof methods, the following are some useful suggestions:

  • Communicate your limits clearly. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, tell him or her early and firmly. Say "No" when you mean "No."
  • Be assertive. Others often interpret passive behavior as permission. It's your body and no one has the right to force you to do anything you don't want to do. Don't worry about being "polite" if someone is not respecting your wishes. Being assertive can be difficult and may require training and practice.
  • Be alert. Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment and ability to make responsible decisions, and you may end up in an undesirable situation. Always have a plan to get yourself home.
  • Trust your intuition. If you sense danger or you're feeling nervous about someone else's behavior, it's best to remove yourself from that situation immediately.

Strategies for Resisting Date or Acquaintance Rape

There are various theories about acquaintance rape resistance strategies. One widely accepted view was developed by Py Bateman of Alternatives to Fear in Seattle, WA. She describes three stages in this kind of rape:

  • Stage 1: Intrusion - At this stage, the potential victim needs to be able to recognize intrusion and effectively communicate that it is unacceptable. Be specific about what the offensive behavior is, clear that it is not welcome, and definite that it must stop. This doesn't rule out courteous behavior. Yet, it is a good idea to avoid apology or humor, as either might undermine the message.

  • Stage 2: Desensitization - In this stage, the first task is to resist desensitization by not "getting used to" sexually coercive behavior. It can be difficult to deal with the negative reactions as we tell abusive men to stop. Consider enlisting the aid of a buddy with whom to discuss such interactions; she can praise your successes and help you deal with any negative reactions.


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    The second task is to identify the men who get clear communication, possibly repeatedly, and choose to ignore it. There can be no question now regarding their motives. These are the ones to consider potentially dangerous. Consider whether you want them in your life at all, if you have a choice in the matter. If they are hard to avoid because they are relatives, neighbors, co-workers, etc., make plans to avoid isolation with them.

  • Stage 3: Isolation - To avoid isolation with a potentially dangerous man, look at the ways you interact with him in the course of everyday life. Refuse to accept rides with him, make sure that you do not work late when he does, line up allies who will join you if it looks like he is maneuvering you to isolation.

  • Often sexually aggressive men are harassing a number of women in the same circle. When we do not talk to each other, we are isolated in another way. Sharing information about your experience with such a man can help create allies, which can be very important in the case of an attempted rape, or in a formal sexual harassment complaint at work.

next: Dating An Older Guy

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2009, January 4). Precautions to Protect Against Date or Acquaintance Rape, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, August 3 from https://www.healthyplace.com/sex/psychology-of-sex/precautions-against-date-or-acquaintance-rape

Last Updated: August 20, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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