Date Rape

Mar 31, 2016



The Link Between Alcohol and Drugs

For decades, dangers associated with high school prom nights have been well recognized, inspiring many communities attempt safe, self-contained prom night extravaganzas. The most disturbing prom hazard has been fatal traffic accidents associated with consumption of alcohol or drugs. Now, date rape has become the new all-too-common prom nightmare. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), prevalence of date rape is between 20 percent and 68 percent among adolescents, depending on specific demographics. 

What Constitutes Date Rape?
No parent wants their daughter or son to be victims of rape or accused of sexual assault, which is why it’s important to discuss this topic. “Date rape” is a rape committed by someone the victim has been on a date with on prom night or at any other time. “Rape” is a type of sexual assault that occurs when sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration are forced upon a person without their consent. The victims of date rape are usually female but are also sometimes male.

Statistics on Teens and Alcohol, Drugs, and Date Rape 
Prom night has been elevated in U.S. culture to an event of tremendous significance. The average amount spent on attending prom these days is somewhere around $1,000, according to an article in The Huffington Post. The high cost includes such expenses as extravagant clothing, professional hairstyles, a meal at a high-profile restaurant, limousine, tanning, manicures and post-prom parties. This type of financial pressure can be a nightmare for parents. Nothing, however, compares to concerns over drugs, alcohol and sex in association with prom festivities, all of which are activities that young people widely consider to be a natural part of the rite of passage, the article states.

  • Teens feel pressured to use alcohol at prom almost 75 percent of the time, according to research done by Chrysler together with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The study also found that 49 percent of the teens surveyed were encouraged by friends to experiment with drugs at prom. 

  • Annually, the use of alcohol and drugs leads to an average of 300 teen fatalities on prom weekend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During prom season more teen traffic deaths occur than at any other time. Among young people under the age of 21, one in three who died in accidents associated with alcohol consumption died during prom season.

  • The following is a recent statistic that reflects a fundamental change in thinking among many young people: A national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that 39 percent of high school boys in their senior year of school consider it acceptable to force sex on a girl if she is intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.

Intoxication and Sexual Assault
It is a myth that teens in droves lose their virginity on prom night. Sadly, however, date rape on prom night is becoming increasingly common, reportedly. Statistics clearly show that the majority of date rapes and sexual assaults against girls are related to drugs or alcohol, including on prom nights. A study by the American Medical Association found that about half of all reported date rapes occur among teenagers, and the odds of date rape occurring are increased with high levels of alcohol consumption. 

The likelihood of date rape increases with alcohol partly because drinking alcohol lowers an individual’s cognitive awareness, reduces a person’s ability to effectively put up a fight, and increases aggression and violent tendencies among potential sexual predators.

Date Rape Drugs 
Perpetrators of date rape often use date rape drugs, which render victims weak, confused and sometimes unconscious. The purpose of the drugs is to assist in executing a non-consensual sex act such as intercourse. A common attribute of date rape drugs is that they are not easily detected in drinks and are especially dangerous when mixed with alcohol. The drugs can also be added to food without a victim’s knowledge. Alcohol is the most common date rape drug. Victims may not remember what happened while drugged. Other drugs used to sedate people are: ketamine, also known as Special K; gamma hydroxybutyric acid, called GHB or liquid ecstasy; and flunitrazepam or Rohypnol, also called roofies. These dangerous drugs can cause seizures and death. Additional information can be found on MedicineNet.com.

What is Gray Rape?
Unique to recent times, including in association with proms, is a new term that has emerged in the category of sexual assaults, that being “gray rape.” According to an article in Cosmopolitan, this version of rape involves doubts in the mind of the possible victim, who was an unwilling participant in an act involving sexual penetration but who also feels he or she wasn’t forceful enough in expressing his or her lack of desire to have sex. 

Many experts have dubbed a common type of lifestyle among many of today’s youth as a “hookup culture,” according to the article. Experts say gray rape is a consequence of this culture in which there is excessive flirting, partying, alcohol consumption, drug usage and the prevailing idea that females can be as enthusiastic and aggressive about sex as males.

The U.S. Department of Justice has this to say about gray rape:

  • The odds that a woman will be raped during a five-year college career are one in five. 

  • Approximately nine out of 10 of those times, the victim will know the perpetrator.

  • Female victims of rape are assaulted by someone they know – whether an acquaintance, a random hookup, or a date – about 62 percent of the time.

  • About half of all rape victims don’t call the incident rape.


The fact that there is such a thing as gray rape is evidence that young people today may be unaware when they are either a victim of rape or guilty of rape.

Date Rape Prevention
Young people who date, whether prom night or any other time, can reduce their risk of being a victim of date rape by taking the following steps, which are suggested by the Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ReCAPP):

  • Understand what date rape is.

  • Identify specific behaviors exhibited by potential perpetrators, as a way of reducing risk. 

  • Execute tactics to reduce the risk of date rape (i.e. eliminate alcohol or drug consumption, police drinks and food to reduce risk of exposure to date rate drugs, etc).

About the Writer

Stephanie McHugh

Contributing Writer

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