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Acquaintance Sexual Assault


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Acquaintance Sexual Assault

Acquaintance sexual assault, often called “date rape,” refers to sexual assault committed by someone the survivor knows. We most often think of sexual assault as being committed by strangers. However, most of the time the perpetrator is someone the survivor knows. Research indicates that over 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone you know.


Acquaintance sexual assault does not fit our "stereotype" of sexual assault. Women are often warned to be wary of strangers, avoid walking alone at night, etc. These precautions are suggested to reduce the possibility of being assaulted by a stranger. While sexual assaults by strangers do occur, individuals are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know.

Some people think that being sexually assaulted by an acquaintance is not as traumatic as being assaulted by a stranger, but this is not true. While sexual assaults committed by strangers tend to be more physically violent, sexual assaults by acquaintances are just as traumatic. Additionally, survivors who have been assaulted by acquaintances often blame themselves more and feel a greater sense of personal responsibility. The survivor often questions their own judgment and feels as though their trust has been violated – they were assaulted by someone they knew and felt they could trust.

Most sexual assaults are not reported and sexual assaults by acquaintances are reported even less than assaults by strangers. When the perpetrator is someone they know, survivors often worry that:

  • Others will not believe them
  • They will be retaliated against by the perpetrator or their friends
  • The perpetrator will face consequences
  • They will lose their friends/support


Survivors of acquaintance sexual assault need the same support and medical services required by survivors of assault by strangers. Free and confidential services are available at the EIU Counseling Center and in the community (SACIS) to support your healing process. Going for support either on campus or in the community does not mean that a formal police report will be filed.  However, support can be provided in filing complaints if desired.