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by Abigail Van Buren

Fast Action by Rape Victim Helps Police Catch Predator

DEAR ABBY: You were correct to advise "Survivor in San Francisco" that acquaintance rape must be reported as soon as possible. Drug rapes can be difficult to prove. GHB (a common incapacitating drug) leaves the victim's body in 12 hours without a trace. Filing charges immediately enables police to obtain a search warrant to look for evidence that supports the charges -- such as vials of drugs, or drug residue in a glass.

A friend of mine was drugged and raped last summer. I'll spare you the details, but she had the guts to go immediately to the police. After the rapist was arrested, other victims came forward. No one knows for sure how many victims there are, but it's alleged that he had been drugging and raping for years.

I believe that failure to report such a crime makes one an accomplice. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance; part of one's responsibility as a citizen is to fight for justice. If any of the previous victims had reported their rape, perhaps my friend might not have been raped.

I'd also like to begin a campaign to eliminate from the lexicon the words "date rape" and "acquaintance rape." "Incapacitation rape" is more appropriate. We don't say "date murder" or "acquaintance murder," despite the fact that most murders are committed by someone known to the victim. Let's not supply euphemisms to heinous crimes. Criminals should be reported, tried and punished accordingly if found guilty. -- ANGRY BOYFRIEND IN VERMONT

DEAR ANGRY BOYFRIEND: I agree. It is unfortunate that in cases of sexual assault, many people still tend to blame the victim. And because of that mind-set, many rape victims also blame themselves for what happened to them. Until that attitude changes, and until parents get the message across to their children of both sexes that women have the right to say no to sex, sexual assaults will continue. Victims must find the courage to report these crimes so the predator can be stopped.