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Let's not wink at 'rape lite'--or blame the victim page 2
Acquaintance Rape: The Common Story and the Real Story

Date published: 11/12/2010


I wish I could say that this response is an atypical reaction to the report of an acquaintance sexual assault, but unfortunately, too many people equate a sexual attack perpetrated by someone the victim knows as "not really violent," "gray rape," or "rape lite," with no small measure of victim-blaming. She drank too much, "led him on," dressed too provocatively, etc. Victims are real experts at blaming themselves; they don't need any help from you.

If we look at the research on acquaintance sexual assault perpetrators, a very different story emerges. Rather than the guy who drank a little too much, miscommunicated, and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong woman, these men are serial offenders (with an average of seven rapes), meticulously plan their attacks, and associate with other men who hold sexist and rape-supportive attitudes. They have more consensual sex than other men; they are not sex-deprived.


Their primary motive is sexual conquest. If the woman consents, they are fine with that. But unlike normal and healthy men, if she does not, they are willing to exert as much force as is necessary to reach their goal. Often it doesn't take a lot, especially if he is big and strong and has reduced her resistance with intimidation and/or the No. 1 date-rape drug, alcohol.

Why are people so willing to blame victims? One major reason is so that we can feel safer. Because, after all, if she was assaulted because she behaved badly, I won't be assaulted if I don't.

One prosecutor told me that in jury selections in rape trials, she avoids empaneling women who are around the victim's age because of this motivation to separate themselves psychologically from the victim. Rather, she prefers men who have daughters similar in age to the victim.

And if you believe that women callously and casually cry rape when they've had regretted sex, ask yourself when the last time was that you falsely accused someone of a felony because your behavior was embarrassing, and if you continued to be willing to tell the lie over and over again to investigators, judges, and juries.

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