Most rapes are committed by someone who is known to the victim—by an acquaintance or a friend—not (as popularly thought) by a stranger (deVaron, 2011; Ben-David & Schneider, 2005; P. McMahon, 2008). Research indicates that in approximately three out of four sexual assaults against women, the perpetrator is known by the victimized person (Romeo, 2004). A significant number of these acquaintance rapes occur in dating situations—hence the term date rape. Acquaintance rapes account for an estimated 90% of the rapes of women attending college in the United States (Crawford et al., 2008).

Considerable research has focused on the prevalence of sexual coercion in dating situations (Jenkins & Aube, 2002; Oswald & Russell, 2006; Shook et al., 2000). Until recently, much of this research examined women as victims and men as perpetrators of sexual coercion. Various studies have reported that 20-45% of teenage and adult women have been victims of coerced sexual activity, most commonly in dating or couple relationship situations (Brousseau et al., 2010; Rhynard et al., 1997; Shrier et al., 1998). However, women are not the only ones to experience sexual coercion. A number of studies have revealed that men also report experiencing some form of coercive sexual activity (Brousseau et al., 2010; Hartwick et al., 2007; Struckman-Johnson et al., 2003).

While sexual coercion in dating situations can be either verbal or physical, the ver­bal variety (e. g., threats to end a relationship or insistent arguing) is considerably more common. A study of college students found that 82% of participants reported using verbal sexual coercion and 21% acknowledged using physical sexual coercion against a dating partner in the past year (Shook et al., 2000). However, it is important to note that although many of the women in the studies previously cited were physically forced to engage in unwanted sex acts, physical force is considerably less likely to be used in the sexual coercion of men (Hartwick et al., 2007; Krahe et al., 2003).