Partner and Acquaintance Rape

The following information focuses on individuals and does not look at violence in the context of wider social and political systems. For example, in our society females are socialised to believe that satisfying a man’s sexual urges is a woman’s responsibility. Until the issues of gendered power imbalances, the public/private split in social relations, and traditional values that offered men dominance and privilege over women are addressed, male/female relationship changes will be superficial and one-to-one.

Background information and facts

  • Consenting to a kiss does not mean consenting to sexual intercourse.
  • Over 91% of Rape Crisis clients from 1993 to 1995 knew their attacker.

Causes of Partner and Acquaintance Rape

  • Peer pressure
  • Sex-role stereotyping and cultural messages
  • A desire for power and control over someone else

Survivors do not cause rape: perpetrators do

  • Everyone has the right to set sexual limits and to communicate those limits.
  • Everyone has the right to be assertive, state what they really want and what they really feel.
  • Everyone has the right to take care of themselves and trust their own feelings.
  • It is OK to say no at any point.
  • Everyone has the right to be where they want to be at any time, wear what they feel comfortable in and make free choices about alcohol and drugs.
  • It is important to respect other people’s autonomy.

Some common views about sex, rape and consent

  • People go on dates for opportunities to socialise and get to know other people.
  • Many people are concerned that saying “No” will hurt their date’s feelings.
  • Sometimes survivors of coercive rape don’t believe that what was done to them was rape.
  • Control and possessiveness are often confused with love.
  • Teenagers often confuse control and jealousy with love.
  • Many perpetrators see forced sex as ‘masterful’.
  • Men are encouraged to confuse ‘scoring’ with being a successful lover.
  • Many perpetrators of partner and acquaintance rape do not see their actions as rape.
  • Perpetrators see the mingling of aggression and sexuality as normal.
  • Most perpetrators have used alcohol and drugs beforehand.
  • Society teaches us that coercion is romantic. This is untrue. Coerced sex is rape.

Reasons why adolescents don’t tell families about Date Rape

  • To protect the family
  • Value conflicts
  • Desire to maintain independence
  • Lack of psychological distance
  • Lack of geographic distance
  • Fear of not being believed
  • Fear of being blamed and judged
  • Lack of supportive familial relationships

Potential perpetrator characteristics and behaviours

  • Emotionally abusive (insults, belittling comments, acts sulky or angry when you initiate an action or idea).
  • Insists on making all the decisions including yours.
  • Has sexist views in general.
  • Acts possessive.
  • Tries to get you drunk or lower your consciousness.
  • Berates you for not wanting to get drunk, get high, have sex, or go to an isolated or personal place.
  • Physically violent to you or others, even “just” grabbing and pushing to get their way.
  • Acts in an intimidating way towards you (uses body to block your way, always speaks on your behalf, touches against your will).
  • Is unable to handle sexual and emotional frustrations without becoming angry.
  • Doesn’t view you as an equal.
  • Enjoys being cruel to animals, children or people he can bully.

Bystander intervention

  • Bystander intervention is the willingness to assist a person in need of help.
  • ‘See it, stop it’.
  • Everyone in the community has a role to play in ending sexual violence.
  • The bystander intervention model increases community awareness and prevents sexual violence.
  • The bystander role empowers all community members to personally identify and adopt prevention strategies.
  • Bystander intervention views all people as potential bystanders.
  • NZ’s ‘Who Are You?’ campaign raises awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault and encourages bystander intervention. For more information see the website and follow the Facebook page