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Acquaintance rape

Acquaintance rape is when the victim already knows the perpetrator. This can be seen in many ways and is not limited to those in a relationship. 

Dating violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain and maintain power and control between individuals who are in a romantic or intimate relationship, and it can come in many forms including physical abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, digital abuse or stalking.

Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, including but not limited to sexual activity.

Stalking is when actions occur towards a certain person that could cause that person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking can also include cyberstalking, which is stalking through technology or other electronic communication.

Jealousy and possessiveness is a sign that a person sees you as a possession. These are the most common warning signs of dating violence. 

Keep in mind, stalking and harassment do not just occur in person. Texting, social media, and other forms of technology are other ways someone can be stalked or harassed and are just as harmful. 

To reduce the risk of becoming involved in sexual assault:

  • Talking openly about sexual expectations and limitations.
  • Be clear about where you stand regarding sexual intimacy.
  • Be assertive about how you feel and don’t be afraid to say “no” early and without hesitation.
  • Be aware of anyone who ignores your wishes, even in small ways.
  • If you are in a situation in which you feel uncomfortable, leave.
  • Monitor your consumption of alcohol.
  • Accept a “no” or even any reluctance to go further sexually, as a “no.”

What to Do

Leaving an Abusive Relationship
Deciding to leave an abusive relationship is often one of the hardest decisions to make.

Further, the period of time right after you make that decision may be the most dangerous as it relates to the abuser’s reaction. The abuser often feels a loss of control and might go to any lengths to regain it.

  • End the relationship over the phone where the abuse cannot hurt you.
  • Block the abuser through any ways they would reach out to you on social media or through other forms of technology, where possible. 
  • If possible, don’t walk to school, work, etc. alone. You are safer when with other people. Change your walking or driving route so that it is not predictable.
  • Lock your doors and windows. When you are alone, do not let your abuser in no matter what.
  • Consider getting a peace order through district court and follow the judge’s order. If the abuser violates the order or if you feel you are in danger, call the police immediately.
  • Take an abuser seriously if he/she threatens your life or the life of someone close to you.
  • Abusers often have no understanding of the consequences of their actions.
  • Alert as many people as possible to your situation. Let school officials, people at your workplace, friends, and family know you have left the abusive partner. You are most vulnerable in places like school or work where the abuser can easily find you. By letting others know you may be in danger, you create a support system and ultimately improve your safety.
  • Many abusers stalk partners who have left them. Keep records of all stalking behavior; save all letters, gifts, and communication; get the phone company to monitor the number of incoming calls from the abuser’s number;
    keep a journal of supposedly chance encounters with the abuser and any other suspicious behavior.

Most Tips Taken from “Metamorphosis” (Fall 2000), TurnAround, Inc.

If you have been raped, it is never your fault and you have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about.

  • Seek friends who can provide you with emotional support.
  • Seek medical attention.
    • Bryn Mawr Hospital staff are specially trained to help in sexual assault circumstances.
  • You may also contact Public Safety at 610.902.8245 to report that you have been assaulted.
    • They will take a report and help you to get medical attention and support.
    • Making a report immediately after the assault is recommended, in case you decide at any point to pursue charges against the assailant.

The university can provide support and assistance when seeking long-term mental health services. Click here for more information on reporting an incident.

Call Counseling and Psychological Services at 610.902.8561 for confidential counseling.

Denise Johnston, Cabrini’s Title IX Coordinator, can be reached in Grace Hall, Room 160, or at 610.902.8207 or denise.m.johnston@cabrini.edu

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available for free off-campus help and can be reached at 1-800-656-HOPE or online.rainn.org.


How to Support Someone Affected 

Perpetrators believe they have the right to control their partners, and see the victim as less than equal to themselves.

  • One in 10 adolescents experience physical violence in their dating relationships (Germanche, 1991).
  • 30% of all women murdered in the U.S. are killed by their husbands or boyfriends (National Crime Victimization Survey, 1994).

If you have a friend who has been sexually assaulted and comes to you for support, there is a lot you can offer.

  • Provide support by listening without judging your friend. Don’t pry into the details of the assault by asking questions.
  • Be nonjudgmental by just listening and giving your support.
  • Be encouraging of your friend to seek the medical and counseling attention that can help during this difficult time.
  • Finally, offer tangible support, such as a ride to the hospital or to spend the night at your place.

Remember, the victim has no control over, and is not responsible for, the abuser's actions!

If you or a friend has been sexually assaulted, help is available. Call Counseling and Psychological Services at 610.902.8561 for confidential counseling.

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