The concept of date rape originated in the United States, where most of the research on date rape has been carried out. An early 1987 study found that one in four American women will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape in her lifetime, and 84% of those will know their attacker.
However, only 27% of American women whose sexual assault met the legal definition of rape think of themselves as rape victims, and only about 5% report their rape.
The term date rape is first found in print in the 1975 book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape by American feminist journalist, author and activist Susan Brownmiller.
Some jurisdictions have specified that people debilitated by alcohol or other drugs are incapable of consenting to sex.
Courts have also disagreed on whether consent, once given, can later be withdrawn.
Many societies rank the seriousness of a rape based on the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
"An assault by a stranger is more likely to be seen as a 'real rape' than one by some-one known to the victim." Because of this cultural conception, many date rapes are considered to be less serious than stranger rapes because the nature of the perpetrator-victim relationship, especially for those who have had a prior or current sexual relationship.