Yes, I was intoxicated.
Yes, I was walking home with a guy I didn’t know that well because he offered to walk me home since I lived much further than my other friends I was out with. No, that did not give him consent.
No that did not mean he could try to force himself not only into my apartment, but onto me.
No, it is not my fault.
It is his fault.
It doesn’t matter if I was drunk.
It doesn’t matter if I was wearing a short skirt.
It doesn’t matter if he thought I was flirting with him.
When I said NO I meant NO.
It was his fault.
Even though I’ve never blamed a victim in any other case it took me 3 years to say out loud that it wasn’t my fault.
I wish I had been strong enough to report it when it happened. But I wasn’t. I knew that my situation was far too close to “date rape” and that it would be harder on me than it would be on him.
When will society recognize the number of rape victims who don’t even report it because of all the victim blaming?
Anything other than YES means NO.
It doesn’t matter how drunk a girl is or what situation she is in….the fact is it is not her fault.
I never thought this would happen to me. I was 24 years old. Finishing up my MA. I had been out for a night of fun before graduation with my friends.
And it did happen.
It took me 3 years to open up to some of my closest friends and even my mother about it.
Society must do something about victim blaming. Young women shouldn’t have to hold something like this in for 3 years. (I did speak with a counselor after the sexual assault, but otherwise only a few very close to me knew even a hint of what happened.)
In the last year, I’ve finally opened up to more people about it. I’ve finally started to tell my story.
It’s still hard, especially when I see people talk about a girl being educated to not put herself in a situation where that can happen.
While that may be important at some level, first and foremost we need to teach people NOT to rape. We need to teach them about consent. And being taught about not putting yourself in that situation is the LAST thing a victim/survivor EVER needs to hear. It can push that person into a downward spiral of self-blaming.
I use the phrase sexual assault because I was somewhat successful in using force to get that asshole off of me, but that doesn’t change the trauma I experienced. I had nightmares for weeks. I still can’t watch movies with violence against women/rape without shuddering and potentially letting those nightmares back in.
It took me nearly 2 years to truly feel comfortable having relations with a guy again. I learned that some guys weren’t worth my time when they weren’t willing to understand me needing time and to move slow.
But now with the Steubenville case in the news I am finally ready to tell my story on some level. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t Jane Doe’s fault. It wasn’t my mom’s fault. It is NEVER the victim’s fault.
Rape and sexual assault affect more people than any of us realize because many people, like me, hold that story in.
Until we stop victim blaming and telling women what to do so they don’t get raped, we won’t have a safe environment for victims of sexual assault and rape to feel comfortable coming forward.