Diane S. was a senior at an exclusive girl’s high school in manila, she was a smart girl who did well in school and enjoyed spending her time hanging out with her close friends. “I wasn’t exactly a straight-A student,” she says, “I was doing okay. I took my studies seriously but I didn’t let myself get stressed out. That’s why my friends and I went out once in a while with few other ‘friends of friends.’ We went out as a group and hung out or somebody’s house to watch DVD or play PS2 games.” Life was cool as she described it, until IT happened.
“I had always had a crush on JC,” relates Diane. “He was the brother of my friend Shermaine’s boyfriend. JC was a college freshman then. We talked a few times at some of our outings about lots of different things. He was great to be with and quite looker too.”
But Diane says she never felt JC was really interested in her, and that he was just humouring her when they talked. She says she felt he was more interested in one of her other friends.”
“Which was why it came as a shock for me that he invited me, and only me, to spend time with him,” she recalls. “It was one of those PS2-playing marathons they held one weekend at JS’s house. People were drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. Some were even smoking pot. JC’s parents were away that weekend. JC took her aside and they had one of those nice conversations Diane had come to enjoy. After a few minutes, JC invited Diane to go into a den in the guise of showing her some books.
“Kunyari pa sya,” Diane says, “But I could tell something was going to happen. My heart was racing already – partly because I was thrilled that he was paying attention to me and because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Basta there was something that didn’t feel right. But I still went along. Then he kissed me. I kissed back. My first real kiss! Kilig di ba?”
“Then he put his hand under my shirt,” she continues, “I felt uncomfortable at that point, even though it made me feel all tingly. But I didn’t stop him. When he began undoing my pants, I backed off a little and he stopped. I told him I wasn’t sure about going any further. He said that going all the way would only prove how much we were meant for each other. That was the only way daw we’d know. I didn’t say anything because I was still trying to take in what was happening. At some point I thought it felt wrong, because maybe I wasn’t really ready for sexual intercourse yet. But I just froze. All the while he was doing it, I kept thinking, ‘Is this right? Is this right?’”
When it was over, Diane says JC got up, zipped his pants, gave her a light peck on the forehead, tapped her shoulder and said, “See you around.” She never saw him again.
Diane only learned later that what happened to her had a name: DATE RAPE.
From many people, the confusing thing about date rape, also known as “acquaintance rape,” is that it happens between two people who know each other. Many people still assume that because sex happened between two people who know each other, both of them agreed to let it happen. In the United States, the legal definition of date rape is “non-consensual sexual intercourse by a friend or acquaintance.” Meaning, one of the people involved in the sexual act but did not agree doing it, or was forced to do it.
In the Philippines, the Anti-Rape Act covers rape cases in general. While date rape has yet to be defined in our law, the Anti-Rape Act can already be used to prosecute those who commit date rape. At least one ruling has shown that being “sweethearts” cannot be used by the date rapists as a defense for sexual assault or forced sex. (People v. Corea, 269 SCRA 76, 1997) All this simply means that, if the crime is reported and a case is filed, the law will help prosecute anyone who forces you to have sex against your will.
Diane isn’t alone. Local rape figures show that 15 women are raped daily, 450 women monthly, 5,400 yearly. That’s one rape happening every two hours. And that’s only those cases that are reported to the authorities. There could be more.
The notion that rape is always committed by horny goons who jump you in dark alleys couldn’t be further from truth. Global figures show that strangers commit only less than 30% of rape crimes. Most of them are committed by “normal” or “safe looking” guys with whom you feel a certain amount of trust and security. You’re acquaintances, you really don’t know them that well yet, but you feel “safe” with them.
Anyone can be a victim of date rape, but more so if you drink alcohol or do drugs –even if you still think you can hold them well. This has been proven in date rape cases all over the world. These substances can lower your alert levels, making you more vulnerable and unable to fight off unwanted advances. What’s more, some date rapists go as far as spiking drinks with so-called date rape drugs –most of them cannot be detected once mixed in drinks.
Even non-drinkers and non-drug users can also be vulnerable. Not being able to say “no” for fear of offending or hurting the feelings of the rapist, the belief that it’s okay for guys to be aggressive and that girls are supposed to be submissive, and allowing yourself to be isolated with someone may all contribute to a rape situation.
What happened to Diane left her confused for months, she says, “I was happy JC was spending time with me, but the sex part, I was really unprepared for that. I felt like trash. For weeks I blamed myself for what had happened. I kept thinking, ‘Maybe I led him on.’ ‘Maybe I was too obvious.’ Or ‘Perhaps I was too kikay.’ Some people I told about the incident blamed me too –asked me why I just lay there and didn’t do anything. It was only a year later I learned that the moment I stopped him, he should not have gone ahead and done it, no matter how feebly I expressed the fact that I didn’t want it.”
Upon learning about this incident, it is best to inform other ladies how they can protect themselves from it. Here are several things I advices:
Set boundaries. In your relationships (or relationships-to-be), define your limits in advance –how far you want to go, how much you will allow them to touch you. Firmly discourage your male friends from going beyond your limits.
Defend yourself verbally. How you say it makes all the difference. So does your body language. If you say no, you have to show him that you mean it. Otherwise, he may think that you’re no serious of are just playing hard to get. If “no” doesn’t work, Scott Lindquist, US crime prevention specialist and author of The Date Rape Prevention Book (Sourcebooks, Inc.) suggest you tell him you have venereal disease or some form of sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Prepare for his reaction. Not everyone will be happy to hear rejections. He might be insulted, feel hurt, embarrassed, angry, humiliated or hostile. Steel yourself. You are not responsible for his feelings. You are responsible for your own. You have the right to make your own decisions and change your mind.
Learn physical self-defense, and use it when necessary. There are several groups around the country who now teach basic self-defense classes for women.
Move away from him. In other words, escape. Take any opportunity to get able to get away. Be prepared as well –take off your high heeled shoes or slip a tight skirt above your knees so you can run better if you have to. Also, don’t hesitate if you have to run away partially half clothed. Run away towards a well lit place with people. Shout “fire” or “sunog” to get people’s attention.
For some cases, if you have already been assaulted, here are another several things I advice:
Move to safety. When you get the chance, get away from the rapist and move to a safe place.
Do not shower, wash or clean any part of you. The urge to scrub off this horrible experience from you will be so strong that you will want to get cleaned immediately after the experience. But remember that you may still be carrying evidence that can help you prosecute your rapist. See the police first.
Call someone you trust to be with you. She can help you make phone calls or accompany you to the police and the crisis center.
Report the crime immediately. Make sure your doctor or a doctor referred by the precinct gives you an exam to collect evidence.
Visit a rape crisis center, contact a women’s group or see a psychiatrist to get some counseling. Here are some places where you can get advice: Foundation for Adolescent Development [FAD] –http://www.teenfad.com (click on e-mail a friend) or contact (02) 734 9664 / (02) 734 9663; Crisis Lines –mobile text messaging type hello crisisline and send to 2333 for Globe and 211 for Smart subscribers; Center for Family Minstries [CEFAM] –contact numbers (02) 426 4289 to 92; Kalakasan youth and Women Counseling Hotline –contact numbers (02) 735 5555 or (02) 735 8303.
And of course, know that it’s not your fault. Go easy on yourself.
Nobody deserves to be raped. Just because a woman agrees to go with a man’s house or car, or join him in a more private place doesn’t mean she has agreed to have sex with him. When women don’t fight back, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t forced to do it. Whether they have decided to fight back or not doesn’t matter. When women are forced to have sex against their will, that’s rape. It is not true that men can’t help himself once he’s aroused so he has to have sex. Men are quite capable of restraining their sexual urges, being intimate doesn’t mean you have to have sex already and drinking or dressing is sexually appealing way are not always invitations for sex. Some say that women who regret upon agreeing having sex use date rape as an excuse. Well, date rape is not a myth. It really happens! That’s said, when any form of rape happens, and no matter what you believe in, what you are drinking or smoking, what you are wearing how you act, for as long as you do not give consent to any sexual advances (whether it ends up in sexual intercourse or not), nobody has the right to force it on you. The bottom line: Follow your intuition. If you feel uncomfortable about the physical intimacy or any form of physical contact, don’t let it go on. Remember, it is your body and your emotions. You alone can decide what happens to you. Besides, if he’s really in to you, he will respect your feelings and wait until you are ready.
**(Names were changed for privacy purposes)