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:
Interpersonal violence is domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Domestic and dating violence are felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence. Domestic violence refers to violence in a relationship in which there is some kind of family, intimate, or shared living situation. Dating violence refers to violence in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. Stalking refers to engaging in actions or behaviors that are directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety, the safety of others, and/or suffer substantial emotional distress.
Domestic violence, dating violence and stalking is more common in college than most people think. In fact, 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner, 32% experienced dating violence by a pervious partner and over 13% of college women report they have been stalked of which 42% were stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. (Statistics from the 2007 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) Abuse occurs in same-gender relationships as often as in relationships between people of different genders. Many students are concerned about reporting interpersonal violence or stalking because they are concerned that it could make the violence and/or stalking worse, they don't want the person to get in trouble, are fearful of family and/or friends finding out and/or they have conflicted feelings for them to name a few.
It is important to know that there are free, confidential supportive services both on campus and in the community if you are a student who has experienced domestic violence, dating violence and/or stalking. The EIU Counseling Clinic can assist you with counseling support and advocacy for shelter, academics, medical and filing complaints if desired. HOPE, in the Charleston community, can assist with the same, as well as provide shelter on a temporary basis. Many who experience interpersonal violence feel alone, but they are not alone. The University is committed to providing the resources to help students secure their safety and heal.
Warning Signs Someone May Be Being Abused/Victimized May Include
Warning Signs of a Potential Abusive Person May Include
EIU Counseling Center
Office of Civil Rights
Office of Student Accountability & Support