Date of violation or known violation refers to the violation of a person by someone the person knows. The rapist’s knowledge of date rape can range from a casual relationship to an intimate relationship with the person, including marriage. Date rape is generally considered criminal behavior as rape perpetrated by a stranger.

Date rape is the most common form of rape. About 28% of rape victims in the United States who report the attack are raped by their husbands or boyfriends. The Justice Department believes that more than 35% of people raped are raped by an acquaintance. Continuing public education can help reduce these numbers, but ultimately, it is only one part of a tremendous problem. Although it is the most common type of rape, it can be more difficult to prove in court, because the victim knows the rapist and all the possible explanations for the crime.

The key to defining the date of the violation is that the consent of the person violated is not obtained. Non-consent can be verbal or, if the person is unconscious, any touching or sexual contact with that person is considered non-consensual. For those who may not be clear on the matter, even the weakest “no” or “stop” represents lack of consent and should be respected as the person’s desire not to have sex.

A potential problem with prosecution for rape on one date is that the victim, usually the only witness to the crime, must prove that they did not consent. Dating a person, dressing provocatively, or flirting can be seen as mixed signals. However, anyone who refuses to have sex with an acquaintance, partner, or girlfriend or boyfriend essentially establishes non-consent, even if the person who refuses has given mixed signals or consented to sex in the past. Anytime a potential sexual partner requests that sexual behavior cease, it must be stopped or it is an illegal and criminal act.

Another major challenge in properly processing date rape is that the raped person may not have a complete recollection of the events that occurred. This may be the case, for example, at parties where a woman or a man has consumed too much alcohol. In other cases, some rapists now specifically disable their victims by putting different forms of illegal drugs in their beverages, alcoholic or otherwise. Drugs such as rohypnol, ketamine, or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) can cause compliance or unconsciousness, making it easy for a person who does not consent to have sex to subdue.

To address dating rape, which is particularly prevalent on college campuses, some colleges are now offering dating contracts that specify exactly what kinds of sexual behavior are welcome and which are not. However, since at least half of the rape occurs when both parties are under the influence of alcohol, which is freely available on most college campuses, such contracts may not be honored.

Law enforcement experts recommend the following to help reduce the date rape attempt. Go to parties with friends and never leave your drink where it can be tampered with. Do not accept a drink from someone you hardly know or who you know casually. Avoid drinking alcohol to excess as it minimizes your ability to defend yourself or recognize a potentially dangerous situation. Avoid using illegal drugs, which can also interfere with your ability to defend yourself. Employ a buddy system to make sure everyone gets home safely.

If you are a victim of date rape, you are not alone. Reporting the date rape can be challenging, and participating in the prosecution of a date rapist is emotionally daunting. Get help from the many support groups for those who have been victims of violence. In recovering from date rape or any other sexual assault, it is important to get counseling to help you deal with misplaced feelings of guilt and shame.

For women who have been raped by a husband or boyfriend, keep in mind that this abuse of their person is likely to happen again. If you can, go to a safe place and report the crime. Women who experience a history of abuse with a husband or boyfriend are at extreme risk of ongoing and escalating abuse. Again, you are not alone and you are actually among the majority of rape victims. There is support for all date rape victims, which can be found by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, or by calling 911 to report a rape.