Standing With Survivors

Date rape or acquaintance rape is not just as it sounds, in fact, you could take away the first word in both of them, and it would still have the same meaning. Giving rape a name in front of it is just another attempt to soften the blow of what actually happened — it’s rape, no exception.

The relationship between the survivor and the assailant doesn’t change the definition of the crime. Whether it’s an acquaintance, friend, partner or even a family member, rape is still rape, and there is no reason we should be giving it a subsidiary name. 

It doesn’t matter if the person has known their assailant for one minute or nine years, if consent was not given, then it is rape. 

Giving it another name and calling it date rape is outright incorrect. Unfortunately, it's given its name because if you explain that the victim put themselves in that position, then they can be at blame. It’s given this name to make the assailant seem less of a threat. The same goes for acquaintance rape.

When people give rape a subsidiary name, all they are doing is hurting the one person that is already in pain — the survivor. It’s belittling to call it anything except rape.

To give you inside to what this feels like, I was raped by someone that I had known for roughly six months at the time. I said no over and over, but he didn’t respect it. A person that knew me and who I thought cared about me, took advantage of me. 

After something like that happens, all you want is for someone to listen and believe you. Rather all you receive are the dreaded comments of ‘but aren’t you friends?’ or ‘I thought you liked him?’ 

When it happens, all history, respect and trust goes out the door and all that’s left are two people — a victim and an assailant. There’s no excuses or acceptable reasons as to what caused it to occur.

When a person discredits what happened to you by calling it acquaintance rape, you feel like less of a person. Suddenly, you’re blaming yourself for what happened to you. 

You start thinking that it’s your fault, that maybe if you weren’t friends with that person, this wouldn't have happened to you. To top it off, you might feel obligated to continue being their friend, pretending that it didn’t happen. 

This is just a small look into what it feels like from the survivor’s eyes when you call it anything more than just rape. 

Stop calling it date rape or acquaintance rape when in the end, it’s just rape. I feel that I’ve repeated myself far too many times, but still, I feel the repetitive sentences are needed. You may not realize the harm that is being done when you put a label on rape, but I challenge you to sit back, take a minute to think and put the survivor first in your mind. 

To report a sexual assault or speak with a sexual assault advocate, call UPD at 660-562-1254. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE. For more information on the North Star Advocacy Center, call 660-562-2320. The Toll-Free Crisis Line is 1-866-382-7867.

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