Acquaintance Rape Details

The term 'acquaintance rape' was first used by Diana Russell, a feminist activist, as a term that covered all rapes by men who knew their victims. In 1978, when she was studying rape, Russell discovered that most rape cases involved victims that knew their assailants.

Today, the same reality applies as studies have shown that most rape occurs between acquaintances and intimate partners. In acquaintance rape, power and control are the most notable characteristics, where the perpetrator dominates over the victim for their gain.

Across society, perpetrators of acquaintance rape use manipulation and threats to achieve their sexual goals. A sexual predator will use love, gifts, attention, and even bribery to convince someone they know to participate in unwanted sexual relations. When non-consensual sexual intercourse occurs, it's acquaintance rape.

Example of Acquaintance Rape

Acquaintance rape occurs when the victim is forced to participate in sexual relations, either by force or manipulation.

For example, Jane goes to a party with her friends. Once there, she begins to dance and socialize with boys from her school. After a great time dancing with Tyler from her Science class, the two head upstairs to a bedroom. When Tyler first kisses Jane, she's excited since she has a crush on him. Tyler starts to rub himself against Jane and touch her thighs and buttocks; despite her verbal refusal, he does it anyway. Despite further refusals and trying to push Tyler away, Jane is sexually assaulted by her classmate, making it acquaintance rape.

Types of Acquaintance Rape

Acquaintance rape is a broad category that includes all rapes by people that are familiar or acquainted with the victim. Some types of rape under this category include:

  • Date Rape: Rape when a potential sexual or romantic relationship exists between two people. Date rape is usually accompanied by date rape drugs, making the other person vulnerable to sexual predation.
  • Marital Rape: Sexual intercourse that occurs without a spouse's consent. This definition is applicable even where violence is not used. Also known as spousal rape.
  • Intra-family Rape: Sexual assault that occurs within a dysfunctional family setting. In these cases, the abuser is considered family by the victim. The perpetrators might range from the stepfather, uncle, mother, family friend, or babysitter.
  • Prison Rape: Sexual violence committed against an inmate. The perpetrators include other prisoners and prison staff. Also known as jail rape.
  • Gang Rape: Rape is when a group of people, often three or more, participate in sexually assaulting a single victim.
  • Child Rape: Also referred to as child molestation, it's abuse where an adult intentionally harms a child or minor by using them for sexual stimulation. The negative impacts on the child are physical, psychological, and sexual.
  • Statutory Rape: Sexual relations involving underage individuals. Even when those below 'age of consent' express their complicity, the law considers it a crime.

History of Acquaintance Rape

In most countries, acquaintance rape is a crime, but in several nations, the practice is deeply rooted in culture. While the situation is changing, some traditions around the world justify acquaintance rape through religion, beliefs, and rituals.

Acquaintance rape emerges in cultures where gender inequality thrives, especially where women depend on men for survival. In these societies, violence and the 'man's way' are socially accepted. Here, men see women as 'sexual objects' and wrongly assume that sexual relations are their right.

In modern culture, acquaintance rape has also been connected to media productions that objectify partners. In media, music and games permit people to take advantage of others verbally, physically, or sexually.