She was 19 and a virgin. He was a classmate who had shared cups of coffee and study time with her in the university's library. One night he knocked on her dormitory door, pushed his way inside and placed his hands firmly arond her throat. "I'm going to take you," he said.
Ten years later, Jane Meredith of Reston recalls what happened next. "I panicked," she said in a recent interview. "My life passed before me. I was so afraid he would kill me. He spent the night raping me and then passed out. I lay there petrified. Then I ran out, past a policeman, and didn't get help."
She remembers why.
I didn't think people could be raped by someone they knew."
Now, Jane Meredith knows differently.
As a counselor for a Northern Virginia rape crisis center, she knows that over 50 percent of all rapes are committed by someone known to the victim. "Acquaintance rape," as it is now called, occurs most often in the victim's own home and is most prevalent among teen-agers. The majority of rape victims are between 15 and 19 years of age and the majority of rapists are aged 15 to 24 years old.
Although researchers say it is virtually impossible to obtain accurate rape statistics, a recently released Justice Department survey of 26 American cities indicated there were 39,310 reported sexual attacks on women in those cities in 1975. But the study also concluded that less than half of the actual rapes committed in this country are ever reported.
The National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape, citing a recent study by a Wesleyan University professor, estimates that 20 to 30 percent of girls now 12 years old will suffer a violent sexual attack in their lifetime.
Alarmed by those statistics, the Justice Department and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare last year commissioned a New York film-maker to develop an acquaintance rape prevention program designed for teen-agers.
With the aid of government and private grants, Oralee Wachter, the 44-year-old president of ODN Productions., Inc. developed an educational program that features four starkly realistic films designed to make rape an acceptable subject for classroom discussion.
At the request of the Justice Department, the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Rape began distributing the film last year on a free loan basis. So far, over 4,200 screenings have been held across the country and the program is the most ambitious educational project the center has attempted.
"Teen-agers are a high risk, both as victims and offenders," said Jean Wetsler of the national rape center, which was established three years ago within the National Institute of Mental Health in Rockville. "Acquaintance rape can be clearly defined. We're with it. The results have been surprisingly positive."
According to researchers and counselors, acquaintance rape differs from stranger rape in several respects. Perhaps the most important, and difficult, aspect of the program is redefining the image of the assailant. "Most people think of rape as the maniac and the victim," Wetsler noted.
Acquaintance rape assailants, she said, are likely to be the boy next door, the doctor, the lawyer, the estranged husband, the boyfriend, the landlord, the blind date, the friend of a friend or a member of the family.
The program, Wachter said, hopes to alert both sexes to the dangers of peer pressure and stereotyped behavior.
What we're hoping to do is break down some of the myths," she said in a recent interview. "Girls say no and mean yes. Boys always want sex. Once a boy starts necking, he can't stop." Or, as Jean Wetsler put it: "Guys want to score but they don't want to be considered rapists."
Jane meredith, who has shown the films to groups and schools in Northern Virginia, said: "We're exposing the kids and the law enforcement people to a form of rape they may not have labeled as rape before."
The films are especially hard-hitting, said Barbara Peacock of Montgomery County's Planned Parenthood, because "they deal with something nobody talks about. The only thing we're told about rape is to keep our keys in our knuckles. We're not told about being in a vulnerable position."
Currently, the films are being shown to public school students in the District of Columbia and Prince George's County. Last week, Montgomery County agreed to include the program in its family-health high school classes. The program has not been included in fairfax, Arlington or Alexandria public school curriculums, although the films are being offered by the Alexandria Rape Victim Companion Program and by area branches of Planned Parenthood.
"The Party Game," the program's opening film, deals with a native girl who is persuaded to leave a teen-age party with a strange boy to whom she has become attracted.The inevitable "heavy petting" results in a coerced sexual attack. The second film features a young black couple home from "The Date." He has spent a lot of money and expects sex in return. She resists. The final frame freezes as her horrified face screams out, "No, don't do this to me!"
I literally wanted to get up from my seat and leave the room after the first film, it was that stunning," said one parent who recently reviewed the program.
In the third film, "Just One of the Boys," Josie, wearing a skin-tight sweater, is taken for a drive by three high school classmates who end up attacking her. "They say she really puts out," is how one of the boys described Josie before the gang-rape.
One counselor recalled that after screening that film to a high school audience, the girls became defensive, saying there were no girls like Josie in their school. A young boy in the class stood up and said, "Name one who isn't.
The last film, "The End of the Road" shows how a young girl successfully dissuaded her attacker by verbal assertiveness, displaying -- in filmmaker Watcher's words -- her "bill of sexual rights."
I have two teen-age daughters," said another parent after viewing the films, "and I know they'd never talk to me about these kinds of things. Put these movies in a classroom environment and it will by dynamite."
A recently completed study of teen-agers by the UCLA psychology department showed that the films portray life.
This new generation has high expectations that sexual activity is most often forced. The male forcing the female," said Dr. Jacqueline D. Goodchilds of the Ucla psychology department. "Among adolescents, there is a very high incidents on nonconsentual sex. Some people label that rape, some people don't."
Dr. Goodchilds, who admitted she was "disheartened" by the results of her study, said, "I think the Wachter films will start people talking and thinking. But I think we have a bigger job of education than we expected."
For Jane Meredith, and thousands of rape victims like her, it may be too late. "If the films were available to me then, I might have been more aware that something like that could happen." As it is, she trusts people, and her own judgment, less than before. "I used to feel invincible but I know I'll never feel that way again," she said.
As for her attacker, "I hate him for robbing me of that."