Victims of `Date Rape' Often Feel Powerless to Strike Back

Article excerpt

Thinking she was going to a party at a motel with a friend, the

19-year-old Orange Park woman had no reason to think she was in

danger.

But after entering an empty room where the party was supposed

to be going on, her "friend" raped her.

The attack is what police and prosecutors refer to as "date

rape." Unfortunately, it's a crime that all too often goes

unreported and unpunished.

The reason is simple, said Lt. Debby Boutwell, who conducts

rape prevention classes for the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

"Date rape is very prevalent," Boutwell said. "Many women feel

that they cannot report it because nobody would believe them.

Men who do this are your power rapists. They pretty much

convince [victims] that they led them on, they asked for it."

An estimated 90 percent of all rapes are unreported, and most

of them were perpetrated by power rapists, she said, adding that

the assailants "usually know their victim and have some type of

relationship."

"Sometimes it's been 40 years since it happened and the woman

is just now telling it," Boutwell said.

The sheriff's office investigated 80 reports of sexual batteries

last year, compared with 65 in 1994.

The young Orange Park woman kept what happened to her a secret

eight months, finally telling Boutwell about it in June during a

break in a rape prevention class at a church in Orange Park.

"Since this happened she's had a bad time emotionally because

she did not report it," Boutwell said.

At first, the young woman told Boutwell a friend had been

raped and might want to talk to her.

"I knew she was really talking about herself," Boutwell said.

"I said you tell your friend to call me anytime, anywhere."

During a second class break, after Boutwell had discussed

various types of sexual predators, including power rapists and

how they control their victims, the woman told her the truth.

"She came up to me and asked if we could talk outside," Boutwell

said. "She was shaking. When we got outside she pointed to her

papers where she had been taking notes and said, `This is him.' "

She said the woman told her the man, whom she had known since

high school, said they were going to a party at a motel on

Youngerman Circle off Blanding Boulevard in the Argyle Forest area.

"When they got there, there was nobody there," Boutwell said. …