Date rape: a hidden crime


Despite an increasing awareness of the problem of sexual violence, there is still reluctance in some quarters for date rape to be considered criminal or even unacceptable behaviour. This is due partly to the hidden nature of the crime and the complicated issue of sexual consent. Numerous Australian women have experienced date rape. This paper outlines the main issues underlying date rape. Because of low-reporting, it is difficult to establish an accurate measure of the extent of the problem, thus reducing the possibility of identifying appropriate responses for prevention and for treatment of victims and perpetrators. Victims who do not recognise forced sex as unacceptable are unlikely to seek help, despite the potential impact of date rape being just as severe and traumatic as other types of rape. This paper discusses prevention measures that range from a change in the formulation of Rohypnol, which has been misused as a “date rape drug”, through to a description of school and community activities concerned with the prevention of violence.