Trigger Warning: the following column contains sensitive content that may be upsetting to some readers. Upon receiving the following letter Saturday morning, I emailed the LW immediately with my response, but I’m publishing the letter and my answer in their entirety here today in the event that the information included may prove helpful to other women now or in the future.
I got very drunk and started talking to one of my boyfriend’s friends on the couch. The friend was telling me how pretty his girlfriend was, so I kept talking to him thinking it would be fine. Everyone at the party said we kissed. I don’t remember half of the night, but my boyfriend claims I cheated. I don’t believe that I did, but all my boyfriend’s friends are telling him I did. Later into the night another friend of my boyfriend’s took me into a bedroom and closed the door. He tried touching me and was begging me to have sex with him. I said no, and he told my boyfriend the next day that I was the one who tried to do stuff.
I care about my boyfriend — he’s all I want and more. Even in the heat of the moment with alcohol involved I couldn’t picture myself screwing around on him (not even kissing someone else). Also, my friend’s boyfriend was there and told his girlfriend AND my boyfriend that I asked to have sex with him, which I know for a fact didn’t happen. He was the only one not flirting with me, and I don’t find him attractive or even look at him like that. I would never ask to have sex with him.
How do I get my boyfriend to believe me that I didn’t do anything? He would barely look at me this morning, and he didn’t even sleep with me at the party; he slept in a different room. My memory of the night is blurry, but I know I wouldn’t screw around with other guys. I’m not sure how to get my boyfriend to believe me over his friends. His friends were coming on to me; I definitely wasn’t coming on to them. The guilt is killing me that I may have done something. — No Memory of It
First and foremost: your boyfriend and his slimy friends are in the wrong here. They made inappropriate “jokes” and pressured you for sex, which is not ok in any way. That these friends made such comments in front of your boyfriend and he didn’t immediately escort you right out of that party, let alone say or so ANYTHING to defend you, is appalling. He didn’t tell his friends to shut the fuck up. Apparently, he didn’t even stay near your side throughout the night to make sure nothing else inappropriate, uncomfortable, or dangerous happened to you. He is an absolute jerk and not worthy of any more of your time or attention. He thought nothing of putting and keeping you in harm’s way and THEN had the audacity to act like you betrayed HIM. Honey, the betrayal here is his and it is deep.
The state of your relationship, though, is the least of your worries at the moment. I am very concerned reading your letter because it’s clear you don’t remember everything that happened, but what you DO remember is that multiple men were pressuring you for sex, they were drunk, and you were drunk. And I understand that you don’t want to believe anything happened while you blacked out, but the truth is ANYTHING might have happened. Blacking out to the point that you don’t remember what happened is common among people who have been drugged, and, if you were drugged, it’s quite possible that you were sexually assaulted. And, if you were sexually assaulted, do you really think the fact that you aren’t attracted to some guy when you’re sober means anything? It doesn’t. And I’m sorry to sound alarmist, but, if I were you, I would absolutely treat this as a possible drugging and assault. The office of Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests that, if you think you may have been drugged and assaulted, do the following:
Get medical care right away. Call 911 or have a trusted friend take you to a hospital emergency room. Don’t urinate, douche, bathe, brush your teeth, wash your hands, change clothes, or eat or drink before you go. These things may give evidence of the rape. The hospital will use a “rape kit” to collect evidence.
Call the police from the hospital. Tell the police exactly what you remember. Be honest about all your activities. Remember, nothing you did — including drinking alcohol or doing drugs — can justify rape.
Ask the hospital to take a urine (pee) sample that can be used to test for date-rape drugs. The drugs leave your system quickly. Rohypnol stays in the body for several hours and can be detected in the urine up to 72 hours after taking it. GHB leaves the body in 12 hours. Don’t urinate before going to the hospital.
Don’t pick up or clean up where you think the assault might have occurred. There could be evidence left behind — such as on a drinking glass or bed sheets.
Get counseling and treatment. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and shock are normal. A counselor can help you work through these emotions and begin the healing process. Calling a crisis center or a hotline is a good place to start. One national hotline is the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.
MAYBE NOTHING HAPPENED TO YOU. I hope to God nothing did. But IF you were drugged, the drugs may still be in your system and it’s extremely important you have a urine test done right away to help determine what might have happened during the time last night that you don’t remember. Again, maybe nothing did. But it would be better to get care and tests you may not need than not get the care and tests you do need. Bring someone you trust with you.
As for your boyfriend, kick the thoughtless d-bag to the curb. What he did to you was horrible enough, but the fact that he’s blaming you in the aftermath and, worse, accusing you of cheating, when he saw how rabidly his drunk, d-bag friends were pursuing you, is disgusting. At the very least, I hope it has opened your eyes to the kind of person this guy is (Hint: not a good one) and that this proves nothing more than a tough learning lesson (the lesson being: you deserve a lot better).
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.