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Volume 71, Issue 48, Thursday, November 3, 2005

Opinion

Rape victim haunted by statistics

Editor--s note: Because of the personal nature of this column, The Daily Cougar is allowing the author to remain anonymous. Direct responses to dclettrs@mail.uh.edu

Pop quiz: Which of the following is considered date rape:

a) A girl is dating a guy and messes around with him one night. She's a virgin, but thinks she--s ready to have sex, so she asks, "Do you have a condom?" "No." "I don't want to have sex without a condom. Better stick to your hand." A few minutes later, he initiates intercourse without her knowing. "That's not your hand, is it?" she squeaks. It's painful. "No," he whispers, without stopping. She says no more. She doesn't want this guy to stop liking her.

b) Girl B has a bad reputation -- everyone thinks she's easy. She says she's just comfortable with her sexuality. An acquaintance hits on her at a party and suggests sex. "I would, but I'm on my period." They start drinking and he asks again. She gives him the same answer. She denies him two more times, but she drinks too much and ends up making out with him in a random bedroom. She reminds him of her period when he tries to take off her clothes. He tells her he doesn't mind and pulls off her panties and pad before she can respond.

c) It's the night of Girl C's best friend's birthday party. She drinks heavily and her friend jokingly pushes her into a room with her boyfriend's brother. He locks the door and says, "I've wanted this since the first time we met." No one's ever told her that and she kisses him even though she doesn' know what "this" is. "I'm a virgin. I don't want to have sex," she says when things turn sexual, but a few moments later he goes ahead anyway. She's not sure what to do, so she stays silent. It ends quickly, anyway.

d) Girl D has a big fight with her best friend and instant messages their mutual friend to vent. He asks her to hang out, and she speeds to his house because she--s desperate for human contact. After a few minutes of talking about her fight, he starts to flatter her and tells her she's beautiful. It's the first time anyone's said that; she has ugly duckling syndrome. They start to kiss. Things get hot and heavy and she tells him that she doesn--t want to have sex, but he initiates intercourse anyway. It's her first time and she cries from the pain. He stops and asks her if she's OK; she doesn't answer, pulls on her clothes and runs out the door.

e) All of the above.

Know the answer? Here's a hint: One of the definitions of sexual assault under the Texas Penal Code is a person knowingly causing "the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person--s consent ... the (act) is without the consent of the other person if ... the person has not consented and the actor knows the person is ... physically unable to resist (or) ... knows the other person is unaware that the sexual assault is occurring."

So those who chose "e" answered correctly and know rape is not always a scary guy jumping out of the bushes and sticking a gun to the victim's head. No means no -- no matter what.

Girls A, B and D are all my friends. I'm Girl C. We have all been victims of a second-degree felony that in Texas is punishable by two to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine up to $10,000.

It's hard to accept that I was raped. It's hard to write that one year, two weeks and four days ago, someone took advantage of me and made me a statistic. Not only am I one of the one in four women who are raped before they turn 25, but also I'm one of the countless who make rape the most underreported crime in America. Girls A, B and D also add to these statistics. We're all just statistics.

According to a 2000 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policy Services, we--re also part of the 66 percent of women who know their rapist -- date rape accounts for most rape. Girls A, B and I also contribute to the 90 percent of female college victims who knew their rapist. When Girl D was raped, she was 16 and he was 24, so she has a whole other group of government statistics haunting her.

We try to say we're not like all the others, but we are. Like so many others, I still blame myself, even though I know I shouldn't. I shouldn-' have gone into that room; I shouldn't have teased the boys all night long; I shouldn't have drank that much. But I still said no. He shouldn't have ignored that.

Also like so many others -- 53 percent of college women date raped, to be exact -- Girl B and I consumed a lot of alcohol, most given to us by our rapists. Forget Rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine -- alcohol is the No. 1 date rape drug.

This is a lesson for the 84 percent of the one in 12 men who commit acts that meet legal definitions of rape or attempted rape and think what they did was not rape -- if you have sex with someone who is too out of it to give consent or is unable to resist, you are guilty of sexual assault. 

Don't automatically assume that if a girl is willing to have sex if she gets drunk, is scantily clad, agrees to be alone with you, kisses, performs other sexual acts or has had sex with you before, she is giving consent.

Stop and ask your partner what she wants if she says no or her body language tells you she is unsure or unwilling, even if she was willing before. Date rape can ruin the offender--s life -- I didn't press charges, but any victim can.

I still drink and I still have casual sex, but with every partner, I remember that night. I only have flings that I initiate, that way I know I'm in control; it's my choice. I now fear that I may never have a real relationship, because I don--t want my vulnerability to show and allow someone to exploit it.

Too many women are or will become like me, but there are so many ways to prevent it. Always go to parties in groups and have a designated sober person to keep everyone in check -- if someone wants to engage in casual sex, fine, but make sure she really wants it. Don't send mixed signals -- be clear in what you want. And for increased clarification -- both men and women -- always ask your partner, "Are you sure you want to do this?"

And if you think you were date raped, visit the UH Police Department, the Women's Resource Center or the Wellness Center. Or anonymously call the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network at (800) 656-4673.

Don't become another statistic.
 

Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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