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Rape and Sexual Assault Victims Find Help from Cal State – Northridge’s Project D.A.T.E

December 28, 2016

Frequently, rape and sexual assault victims think that they are somehow responsible for provoking their perpetrators—whether by the clothing they wear, being friendly, or other actions and behaviors. This common type of response can damage victims’ dignity. More than that, this way of thinking is wrong. It’s just plain false. This is the strong and empowering message that a college program aims to convey to its students, as well as the entire community and the San Fernando Valley.

The name of this Cal State -Northridge program is Project D.A.T.E.—Discovering Alternatives for Today’s Encounters, which aims to raise awareness and debunk other myths concerning rape and sexual assault.

Project D.A.T.E. is a peer education, date or acquaintance rape prevention program, which is sponsored by University Counseling Services and Strength United. The program’s peer educators make classroom presentations designed to achieve the following goals:

  • Educating students about the psychological and cultural issues concerning rape
  • Informing students about rape’s legal and medical issues
  • Developing awareness of the issue of rape and understanding ways to prevent rape.

The Project D.A.T.E website explains that 85% of rapes that take place on college campuses are committed by someone with whom the victim is acquainted and that 50% of rapes of college women are committed on dates. These statistics show that women need to be aware of sexual predators and take steps to prevent being victimized.

The program’s website also gives guidelines for women and for men. For example, the program advises women to avoid the use of alcohol and other drugs and to be aware that some men may use alcohol as a means of coercing a woman into doing things she may not want to do. In addition, alcohol can enhance aggressive tendencies in males. Another point is for women to be assertive, as in some instances, men will interpret a lack of a response as permission. Women should be direct and firm with someone who is sexually pressuring them.

Similarly, for men, the guidelines caution against the use of alcohol and other drugs and warns that even if a man is drunk, he is legally accountable for his behavior under California state law. Also men should know all of the forms of sexual misconduct…for instance, touching can be a form of sexual assault. Another caution to men is not to assume that previous sexual contact applies to the current situation.

Project D.A.T.E also notes that 95% of all rapes occur when the rapist, victim, or both are under the influence of alcohol, and that of reported cases, women ages 18 to 24 are at greatest risk of being raped. These statistics show the importance of college students understanding the how rape can be a present in the college environment and to prevent rape from occurring.

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