Acquaintance Rape: When the Known is NO Exception

Author: Nancy Saroha, pursuing BA LLB from Gitarattan International Business School affiliated with GGSIPU.

This research aims to manifest that Acquaintance Rape is indistinguishable from the rape by a stranger. If pointed simply, Acquaintance Rape is the rape by the perpetrator who is known to the victim. In most cases, the victim is the female and most targeted groups are between the age of 16 to 24. This vicious and life-changing experience (Acquaintance Rape) is considered less serious than rape by a stranger. The main target of this study is to clear the mindset of people that whether it’s Acquaintance Rape or Rape by a Stranger, it affects victim the same way i.e., it ruins her life. This is prevalent in college campuses or in romantic relationships or by a family member, co-workers etc. Therefore, this term needs more awareness and full understanding among other sections of society.

In 1980s, this became an important issue. Many feminists, activists wrote about it. "I Never Called It Rape" is a 1988 book by journalist Robin Warshaw on Acquaintance Rape. In the year 2020 also, so many people are unaware of this term. Therefore, this needs attention through several awareness campaigns, lectures to colleges, schools, offices, underprivileged societies etc.

“Laws won’t be enough unless we change the culture that allows happening in the first place”

- Barack Obama, Sept. 2014

Acquaintance Rape-less serious?

In the past, people considered Acquaintance Rape less serious than rape by a stranger. This term is still not much familiar with people. But in 1980s, this became one of the most important issue and in the year 1951, it was at its peak when people realised that what was happening in the veil of trust was actually Acquaintance Rape. I am shocked to read and unhappy to share that in the past women used to prove whether they consented or not.

NCRB (National Crime Records Bureau) report of the year 2017 shows that 93% of all the rape cases were committed by acquaintances. Moreover, if we see the report of Delhi Police, 96% cases are committed by known to the victim or family. They can be anyone in relation like- blood relative, one of close family member, neighbour, an employer or co-worker etc. But, the more appalling fact is that only 4 out of 10 cases are ever reported. Additionally, this ratio decreases even further when the accused is a family member.

A study by Majlis Legal Centre is even more alarming that in 90% of cases the person is known to victim who majorly includes 16% of family members and 73% father or stepfather.

NCRB 2018 report indicates that there is 1 report in every 15 minutes in India.

I wonder when people say that ‘she shouldn’t have stayed outside late at night, that was the reason she was raped or she shouldn’t have wore such kind of clothes, she shouldn’t have made such kind of friends’ and etc etc. But the facts show that more that 90% (approx) cases are of Aquaintance Rape which indicates that she is not safe in her own home and from her own relatives. The people making such assumptions about the victim and not blaming the accused are also criminals in my opinion as such people create an impression in their house which already proves that she was the one who was at fault. This shows that the first step in preventing such a heinous crime in future is to change the mindset of people. It works like a chain what A’s father had taught him will pass on to A and then to A’s son or daughter and so on, if not changed. Changing one person’s mindset can have a positive impact on more than 1 life.

Effects on Victim:-

No doubt, it changes her life upside down. This trauma also depends on person to person. Some victims are completely destroyed while others try to take action against it and move on with life.

· Her trust is completely shaken

· Victim can be numb for short or long period of time

· Fear may stop her from taking any action

· Self-blaming and feeling Guilty is felt by the victim

· Depression

· Nightmares

There are so many emotions that she will experience during and post-rape. The most common effect seen is that the victim loses trust and feels unsafe most of the time. It’s really hard for her to trust anyone after that. The way people look and judge her and her family is her biggest concern now.

Support Her!

Though she needs proper psychological treatment as it will be the best option for her to move on and again love her life. But most of the time she will be with her family and relatives. That’s why it becomes the duty of people around her to take best care of her. First of all, it’s a fact that ‘IT WAS NOT HER FAULT’. They need to make sure she starts believing herself again. We know it’s really tough to get out of that situation easily but with the support of family and friends, she can again live like before.

Secondly, we all need to be non-judgemental. We need to make sure we never judge her because of what happened to her. Rather, we should tell her that we feel sorry for what happened and you didn’t deserve that. These supporting statements can make her strong again to take action against the accused.

Can Male be a Victim?

Yes, a male can also become a victim of Acquaintance Rape. It can happen when he is forced to have unwanted sex by a friend, relative, date or other acquaintance. There are cases when the male had been a victim of ragging in which he had to prove his sexual ability. He needs to prove to these so-called friends that he is able to have sexual intercourse. He can be forced by the bride-to-be to prove himself before marriage that can also be considered as unwanted sex.

The psychological change that can be seen in them is that they remain under pressure what the other person will say about his sexual ability and further where the news will spread if he was not able to prove.


Unfortunately, we live in a world where girls need to take measures to protect themselves from rape, rather than impeding men from doing it. I believe that rather than girls taking safety measures, the boys should be properly raised. They need to understand the meaning of the word ‘No’. This behaviour of boys depends on how they are raised. The lessons on respecting women were not taught to them. The exclusive feeling that they are allowed to do everything and women are prohibited from doing certain things makes them feel more dominant over them. Discrimination between children also has a role in this. The upbringing should be like that in which both know to respect each other. Neither the boys should be treated so harshly nor should the girls be stopped from doing from what they want.

But, what measures a girl can take to protect her-

· Safety at home is essential. There may be chances that the perpetrator is following you, so you need to keep a proper lock system.

· You need to communicate to the other person about your limits.

· If you have intuition that you are not safe, leave that place.

· I believe you need to now make yourself physically strong like you are mentally strong so that, you can respond physically.

· Last but not the least, you need to Report whatever happened to you. The helpline numbers are always available and believe in your friends and your family. Share with them about the happening as soon as possible.