How many of you know someone who has had something stolen from them? How many of you know someone who has been held at gunpoint? How many of you know someone who has been date raped? You might and not even know about it. In 1985, Mary Koss, a professor at Kent State University, surveyed approximately 7, 000 students on thirty-two campuses on behalf of Ms. magazine and found that one in eight women were the victims of rape. Experts estimate that as many as 90 percent of all rapes are never reported.

But When you hear the word 'rape,' what do you think of? If you imagine a stranger jumping out of the bushes on a dark night and attacking someone, you are only partly right -- because most rapes are not committed by strangers but by men who know their victims, who often have gone out with them previously and are supposedly their friends. Acquaintance rape is forced, unwanted intercourse with a person you know. It can be that cute neighbor, the blind date your friend set you up with, even your husband of boyfriend. The fact is, if you said no, it's rape.

Date rapes typically occur when a woman is alone with a man. If you go to a man's room or apartment or even get into his car alone, you are vulnerable. Date rapes can occur when others are relatively close by; for example, they can take place in an upstairs bedroom while fifty people are attending a party on the first floor. Alcohol and drugs are sometimes a significant factor in date rape. Many victims say later that they drank too much or took too many drugs to realize what was going on; by the time they realized their predicament, it was too late.

Sometimes a woman passes out and awakens to find a man having sex with her. Onthe other hand, some date rapes occur when alcohol is not involved or when the victim has had little or nothing to drink but the man has been drinking and becomes sexually aggressive. Mixed signals are another element in date rape. The woman acts in a friendly manner; the man interprets this friendliness as an invitation to have sex.

'No' is heard as 'maybe' and even a strong protest can be ignored under the delusion that women say 'no' when they mean 'yes.'s ome men find it sexually exciting to have a woman struggle. If the woman protests only mildly, the man may think he is merely 'persuading' her, not forcing her to have sex (He may think the same, however, even if she protests vigorously. ) Sometimes a woman is not clear in her own mind about what she wants or she may think she will make up her mind as she goes along. If she changes her mind at some point and decides not to have sex, the man can feel cheated, rejected, and angry.

He may be interpreting her nonverbal messages, such as her enjoyment of kissing and caressing, as meaning that she wants to have sex with him. At this point he may decide he has been teased or misled and 'deserves' to get some satisfaction, regardless of the woman's wishes. The result can be rape. You can't always avoid date rape. There is no one thing that you can do to assure that you will never be raped.

But, there are steps you can take to minimize the likelihood. o Say yes when you mean yes, and no when you mean no. Be assertive. o Be independent and aware on your dates. Do not be totally passive. Do have opinions on where to go.

Do think about appropriate places to meet (not necessarily at your room or his), and, if possible, pay your own way or suggest activities that do not cost any money. o Avoid blind dates. o If things start to get out of hand, exit loudly. o have your own transportation Avoid secluded places where you are alone. The most common places that date rapes occur is in the man or woman's apartment or home.

Unfortunately, a nice, normal man can turn into a date rapist. However, there are some men who are more likely to be sexually aggressive than others. Watch out for: o men who express anger or aggression towards women as individuals or in general. Hostile feelings can easily be translated into hostile acts. Such men often get hostile when a woman says 'no.' o men who try to make you feel guilty, or accuse you of being 'uptight' if you resist their sexual overture so men who act excessively jealous or possessive o Men who have unrealistic expectations about women. Such as that women are made to be used, etc...

o Men who drink heavily. All rape is traumatic but there is something particularly traumatic about a woman being raped by someone she knows and previously had liked and trusted. Although only a small percentage of men commit date rape, these men do a disproportionate amount of harm. As women become more aware of what date rape is and how it occurs, they may be able to lower the chances of it happening to them.

Rape is not a private issue but a public one. Acquaintance rape cannot be considered solely a 'personal' issue involving a particular man and a particular woman. It is a problem that concerns all men and all women because it deals with the basic issue of the ways in which men and women relate to each other. I want to end with a poem by Katherine Knox, a victim of date rape. Silent Agony Does the truth stay hidden, waiting for another day to reveal the fight as remedied; Or, until it comes more easily, or happens by itself, without the struggle to succeed? If these things are so, then truth is passive, and will not fight or struggle when it's all uphill, -- Or try to overcome the pain of those who live in silent agony, because our honesty stood still. If you know someone who has been a victim of date rape, or you yourself has, speak out.

This cannot end until we make it clear to EVERYONE that it's not ok.