Nowadays, sexual assault can be regarded as one of the most serious social crimes that substantially influence victim’s health. The vast majority of victims are sexually and physically abused women who usually know their insulter. In fact, many cases of sexual assault against women happen on dates, which makes this offense one of the most discussed crimes. Besides, very often, such an offence remains unreported since the victims of date rape tend not to inform the police about it because they are acquainted with their assailant. According to the researches, in 84% cases, the victim knew who the attacker was, while 57% of sexual assaults occurred on dates (Wool, 2008, p. 202). In this regard, it is of crucial importance to examine the definition of rape, as well as its dynamics. Moreover, there is a number of factors, including social, cultural, personal, and psychological that force an offender to commit sexual abuse against women. Thus, it is important to investigate the nature of the particular factors in order to prevent date, acquaintance, and other types of rape. Although there are many modern programs that attempt to protect women from the sexual violence, they do not save them from domestic abuse or assault in the workplace that may include sexual and physical attacks. Therefore, sexual assault is a horrible crime against mankind that society should be concerned about, and thus take certain measures in order to prevent the cases of sexual violence.
Rape can be defined as a sexual intercourse, into which a woman, girl, man or boy is forced by a stranger or familiar to a victim person motivated by sexual desires. In fact, it is a sexual intercourse the person is forced to engage in without his or her consent. Sexual assault may also include the following: attempted or completed penetration, abusive sexual pressure without penetration, and non-contact sexual violence, such as harassment (Catalano, 2005). In most cases, sexual abuse is accompanied by force, physical insults, deterrence, and verbal threat. Furthermore, date rape and acquaintance rape can be observed as the most common types of sexual abuse. In addition, most of these cases are connected with drug or alcohol use. At the same time, consent is a decisive factor when distinguishing between normal sexual intercourse and sexual assault. If a victim does not agree to participate in sexual activity with another person, then the intercourse can be legally determined as sexual assault. In some cases, victims of rape may not be able to give their permission for penetration because of their age or disorder (Basile, Lang, Bartenfeld, & Clinton-Sherrod, 2005, p. 202). Therefore, being intimidated, victims of sexual abuse are afraid to refuse the offender or report the police about the crime.
Despite the thought that sexual abuse is a street crime committed by strangers, the majority of victims are sexually assaulted by a person they know. According to the American national surveys, one in six women was a victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault (Basile, Lang, Bartenfeld, & Clinton-Sherrod, 2005, p. 205). Throughout the last 20-30 years, the thinking about sexual abuse, as well as the dynamics of rape, has not changed because this thinking continues to mirror a number of myths and misconceptions. The most common stereotype about sexual assault is connected with deciding on whether the rape, specifically sexual contact, has occurred or not. In O’Hara’s book printed in early 1970, it is noted that the absence of injuries and wounds on victim has to “induce a moderate degree of skepticism” except if the sexual abuse is proved (as cited in Lonsway, 2012, p. 4). In other words, the behavior of the female should be subjected to very precise and critical investigation. The study of International Association for Chiefs of Police of 1995 shows that “Generally, the actions and the appearance of a legitimate rape victim leave little doubt that a crime has been committed” (as cited in Lonsway, 2012, p. 4). Therefore, the consent of the victim, as well as their conduct, is crucial in order to protect the prey and punish the offender.
Interestingly, the dynamics show that in the 1970’s, most sexual assaults were committed by strangers (Lonsway, 2012, p. 7). However, the situation changed with time: in the 1990’s, most reported cases of rape were committed by the individuals who were known to the victims (Lonsway, 2012, p. 7). In this regard, date rape is one of the most possible types of sexual abuse because the victim perfectly knows the assaulter. The causes of date rape can be different: drug or alcohol abuse, women’s mixed verbal and nonverbal signals, stereotypical views, disrespect, and bad impact of environment. Moreover, the abuser also can be a coworker or even friend. The statistics of 1987 indicated that more than 50% of 3,000 college women who participated in the survey where sexually victimized by their friends, whereas 15% were raped by strangers (Franiuk, 2007, p. 104). In addition, victims of sexual assault are far less likely to report the rape cases if the offender is known to them. Therefore, since only 15% of victims were sexually abused by strangers, there is the likelihood that a small number of rape cases were actually reported.
The reasons of sexual aggression may be different, but the most common are social and cultural factors. Thus, social factors that contribute to the sexual assault are patrilocality (the tradition of living with the family of the husband), an ability to have a couple of wives (in some cultures), and generally disrespectful attitudes towards women (Stermac, Segal, & Gillis, 1990, p. 144). At the same time, such cultural factors as male honor, dominance, masculinity, superiority, men’s sexual entitlement, and the ideology of female inferiority can be regarded as principal causes of sexual abuse. Thus, cultural norms, as well as social conditions, provide a rape-prone environment for the rape, and, in turn, provoke men to commit sexual violence. Moreover, there are also personal and psychological factors that may make a person perform a crime of sexual character. The potential criminal rapist may be influenced by the antisocial behavior of his peers, as well as family members. If a person is nurtured in the family where sexual and physical violence are a norm, he or she may transfer that role model into his life (Catalano, 2005, p. 106). Furthermore, people commit sexual assault because of personal problems or inadequacy. To demonstrate toughness and masculinity, men may choose more violent manner, such as rape or sexual harassment. In most cases, such men misread signals given by women, and thus they may lack ability to distinguish inhibitions from permissibility. Therefore, social, cultural, personal, and psychical factors may equally lead to sexual assault.
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The main way to prevent date, acquaintance, and other types of rape is to be aware. While most date rape cases are committed at parties or public places involving alcohol use, potential victims are strongly recommended that they never leave their drinks without attention. If a woman leaves her drink, it is better not to continue drinking it. Furthermore, females should not accept any opened drink, especially from a person who they see for the first time in their life (Wool, 2008, p. 211). It is also advisable to be among the reliable people, preferably trusted friends, who can help a person in case of intoxication or loss of control. Moreover, females should inform their sexual boundaries clearly without giving any signals or promises to the potential offender. In this respect, clear “no” cannot be interpreted in any other way. Additionally, women have to be always cautious with anyone who demonstrates hostility towards other gender or shares stereotypical views on the gender. Therefore, wariness and alertness are key components that contribute to female feeling of security.
Sexual assault is a severe crime that may be caused by different reasons. The dynamics of rape shows that the situation has slightly changed concerning a victim’s knowledge of an offender. While recently sexual violence was committed by strangers, the current crimes are performed more by friends. There are different factors that contribute to sexual abuse, but the main ones are social, cultural, personal, and psychical. At the same time, a person’s inability to be assertive can be regarded as the main reason why sexual assault occurs. Females should always pay attention to people who they date or become acquainted with. While women become victims of the most forms of rape, it is highly recommended that they are always aware and do not send cues to men, which may be misread.