Acquaintance Rape on College and University Campuses

Article excerpt

While a university experience offers young women many rewards, unfortunately, there are also significant dangers, and one of these dangers is men who are sexual predators. Acquaintance rape is a sexual assault perpetrated by someone who is known to the victim. It is a violent and serious crime that is far too common an occurrence at our institutions of higher education. It is imperative that women in colleges and universities become informed about 1) the crime of acquaintance rape; 2) precautionary behaviors to try to prevent becoming a victim of acquaintance rape; and 3) learn procedures to follow after an acquaintance rape has occurred, in order to successfully prosecute the offender.

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Introduction

Each year, young women leave the security of their familiar surroundings and attend college and universities in distant cities and locations. These women are embarking on a journey, filled with hopes for joy and happiness, as they seek an academic education. Many of them are also seeking to find the "special" someone with whom they will share their future lives. The campus environment, therefore, provides for academic stimulation, as well as a variety of activities and opportunities for socialization.

While a university experience offers young women many rewards, unfortunately, there are also significant dangers, and one of these dangers is men who are sexual predators. These men could be official students, or men who just attend campus activities in order to meet their next victim. A serious and violent sexual crime, acquaintance rape, is far too common an occurrence at our institutions of higher education. Acquaintance rape is a sexual assault perpetrated by someone who is known to the victim. It is imperative that women in colleges and universities become informed about: 1) the crime of acquaintance rape; 2) precautionary behaviors to try to prevent becoming a victim of acquaintance rape; and 3) learn procedures to follow after an acquaintance rape has occurred, in order to successfully prosecute the offender.

Statistics

A survey from the United States Bureau of Justice reported that in three-quarters of all rapes and sexual assaults against women, the perpetrator is know to the victim (U.S.O.O.J., 1995). A college survey conducted by the National Victim Center reported that one in four college women have been raped or suffered attempted rape (Bureau of Justice, 1992). In another college survey, half of the college men reported that they engaged in some form of sexual aggression on a date (Bureau of Justice, 1995). These reports indicate that young women are at considerable risk of becoming a victim of an acquaintance rapist.

The Acquaintance Rapist

Unfortunately, one cannot identify an acquaintance rapist on the basis of his appearance. He could be anyone, from a classmate, a science laboratory partner, a boyfriend, or just the nice guy that lives in the apartment next door. While acquaintance rapist cannot be identified by their appearance, they do engage in certain behaviors in order to win the confidence and trust of their victims. The primary goal of the acquaintance rapist is to increase the victim's vulnerability. He is highly manipulative and may make such promises to her as "pinning," engagement, love, and even marriage. He may also choose to use alcohol and/or drugs in order to incapacitate the victim, rendering her incapable of offering him any resistance during his sexual assault. The acquaintance rapists also significantly increases the victim's vulnerability by manipulating her into a situation where she will be alone with him. This can be achieved by being alone with her at her or his residence or in a car. Even if she is at a fraternity party, or a sport's event where there are many other people around, he still could take her into a room, or a secluded place outside, where she is ultimately alone with him.

Alcohol and Drug

Another form of manipulation the acquaintance rapist may use is to give his potential victim alcohol and/or drugs, in an effort to eliminate her ability to resist his sexual attack. …