Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Lester W. Wright

Second Advisor

Dr. C. Richard Spates

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access



Date Rape

The issue of rape has long attracted considerable attention in the popular press. It has only been within the past three decades, however, that rape has captured the attention of the scientific community as a focus of study. Recent research has challenged the long held beliefs and stereotypes which have characterized the typical rapist as a stranger who violently attacks his victim in public places such as dark alleys and parking lots. There is mounting evidence that women are far more likely to be sexually assaulted by men whom they know, including friends, dates, and lovers (Russell, 1982; Koss, 1992; Finkelson & Oswalt, 1995). Such sexual assaults are termed date rape or acquaintance rape.

The legal definition of rape may vary to some degree as a function of state jurisdiction; however, the salient dimensions that define rape remain relatively constant. The three major components of the legal definition of rape include (1) carnal knowledge of another individual, defined as sexual penetration; (2) lack of consent by the individual to this sexual activity; and (3) use of force or the threat of force to attain carnal knowledge (Jackson & Petretic-Jackson, 1996). Although an act of date rape may meet the requirements for the legal definition of rape, several factors significantly impact the victim perceiving and reporting an instance of date rape as a crime. Such factors include having had prior sexual contact with the perpetrator, use of alcohol and drugs prior to the assault, willingly electing to be alone with the perpetrator, or engaging in some form of sexual activity prior to the sexual assault. These factors lead a victim to engage in self-blame and minimize or deny the assault, preventing her from viewing herself as a "true" rape victim.