7 Warning Signs For Date Rape

© Shutterstock

When I awoke on that bright spring morning of March 21st, 1986 in a pensione in Venice, Italy on my semester abroad, I didn't expect the day to end on a dark, deserted beach with an Italian boy I'd just met pinning me to the ground hissing in my ear that he had a knife and would kill me if I didn't "f–k" him.

Getting dressed that morning I didn't know I'd have an out-of-body experience where I seemed to float above the scene, looking down at the two bodies grappling on the sand below, feeling profoundly sad that my mom might never know what happened to me after I died on a little beach so far from home.

I managed to survive my attack, and, all these years later, I'm a mother. My daughters are ten and twelve and the thought of them ever being in a similar situation is intolerable.

Bad things can happen no matter how prepared and careful we are, but when my girls are old enough I'm going to share my story with them and hope they'll see the warning signs for date rape that I missed. Maybe these can help your daughters, too…

The Warning Signs For Date Rape That I Missed…

1. Your Date Tries To Get You To Ignore Your Instincts. When my friends and I were dining in Italy over our spring break, a handsome Italian stranger named David asked to join us for dinner. We were looking for a romantic adventure so we acquiesced. It was enjoyable, but as we were leaving with him, two of his friends, David and Marco, seemed to magically appear out of nowhere and asked to join us for a trip down to a little beach. My gut told me this was a bad idea, but after a lot of coaxing and cajoling we allowed all three boys to join us.

2. Your Date Wants To Take You To A Secluded Location. My friends and I accompanied the boys to the deserted beach even though we felt a little uneasy. We didn't want to seem like uptight spoil- sports.

3. Appearances Lull You Into A Sense of Safety. David, the boy who attacked me, was very handsome and I must admit, because of this, I trusted him. The beach was cold so the boys ferried us into a little changing shack on the beach to light candles, drink and talk.

4. Your Date Encourages You To Drink Or Take Drugs. My friends and I were plied with wine from some bottles the boys produced and it wasn't until after the attack that I recalled none of the boys were drinking.

5. Your Date Tries To Separate You From Your Friends. After about an hour my date encouraged me to stay inside the shack while the others went outside to look at the full moon. I was looking for romance and wanted a kiss, so I decided to stay.

6. Accomplices and Conspiracies: There may be multiple perpetrators who conspire to commit the crime. I believe all three boys were in cahoots about separating my friends and I in order to get us to have sex with them. What I didn't know, while I was kissing David in the little wooden shack, was that Fabio and Marco were convincing my two friends to leave the beach with them.

7. Date Rapists Amp Up Their Attack Gradually So The Victim Doubts Herself. Again, listen to your gut. When David kissed me I enjoyed it, but kissing was all I wanted. I don't know exactly when things began to go wrong, but at some point I realized the kiss didn't feel like a kiss anymore. It felt like something hard and sharp, like a knife forcing me to the edge of a black pit. Unfortunately, my lapse in reaction time helped Marco and Fabio get my friends off of the beach. Shortly after that, my date made his intentions clear. He had planned to rape me all along.

What will I teach my daughters to do differently?

1. Make a Game Plan With Friends and Have a Signal if you Need Help. My two girlfriends hadn't wanted to leave me alone on the beach, they wanted to go back and get me out of the cabin. But Fabio and Marco pressed them, suggesting I probably wanted to be alone with David. The girls didn't know me well enough at the time to be sure that wasn't true and we hadn't made a game plan beforehand. It's imperative that girlfriends have each other's backs in social situations, so be sure to talk and make safety rules before you go out.

2. Stay Sober and Aware. The wine I consumed muddled my judgment. It's so common for young, inexperienced women to get inebriated or high in social situations because maybe they need to quell their nerves and want to be confident. Unfortunately, this gives the perpetrators free reign to exploit and injure you.

3. If you are Being Attacked, Engage your Vocal Chords, Scream and Yell as Loud as you can. I didn't realize it, but from the moment David's kiss turned bad I hadn't engaged my vocal chords. I had whispered, "No, no, no, let me go." But I hadn't actually made a sound that anyone but David could hear.

Years later I went to a friend's self-defense course graduation. I learned there that when women are attacked they frequently become paralyzed and don't speak. I learned that engaging the vocal chords loudly actually ignites adrenaline, which allows women to fight back. Women are often raped and killed without making a sound.

After grappling for what seemed like hours, when David was finally able to jerk me onto my hands and knees and get my pants down, a wild, hysteria and a refreshed panic to get free overtook me. Sensing I was going to fight again, David threw his arm around my neck from behind.

Suddenly I found my voice and screamed "Rape!" for all I was worth. Adrenaline shot through me. I threw my elbow back and caught him smack on the nose. I saw blood spurt and then I saw nothing but sand and a solitary streetlamp on the distant street as I ran headlong up the beach.

It was the scream that gave me the surge of power I needed to escape. David chased after me, but I was able to get to the lit street before he could get to me. Then he disappeared as quickly as he'd appeared.

When I think about how close I came to becoming a Natalee Holloway or Meredith Kercher or Jennifer Levin, it makes me shudder and catalyzes me to share this story to help young women heading out into the dating world.

4. Finally, if the worst happens, RAPE IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Over the next months, and even years, I blamed myself for the attempted rape.

I should've listened to my instincts. I shouldn't have gone down to the beach with boys I didn't know. I shouldn't have drunk any wine. I shouldn't have wanted a kiss. I was too flirtatious, too bawdy, a slut.

I deserved it.

All too frequently rape begrimes a woman's reputation. There are still many countries around the world where "honor killing" of rape victims is allowed due to cultural and religious beliefs, which victimizes the victim twice.

Although my attempted date rape shook my confidence about moving freely through the world, ultimately I became more street smart and savvy, far better able to protect myself and take necessary precautions to stay safe.

And I hope that's what this story will do for my daughters. And perhaps yours, too.

There are 0 comments on this article.

From Around the Web

Become a Scary Mommy

Name is required.
Please enter a password.
Your passwords don't match.
Receive email updates
Close