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.
“A Friend Groped My Wife At a New Year’s Party”
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).
Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Hope July 7, 2014, 10:26 am
It actually sounds like it may have been a set up in which your boyfriend was complicit. And yes, it sounds like you were drugged. I would consider reporting it. It’s been less than 2 days. Does anyone know if they can still get some DNA from a rape kit?
Brian Fairbanks July 7, 2014, 12:22 pm
Don’t know about the drugged part (it’s too unclear at this point), but I think it was 99% likely a setup. “You like this girl?” “No. I’ve been trying to break up with her, actually.” “All right… leave it to us, dude. You sleep in the other bedroom, we’ll work on this.” Just all around scumbaggery here, although it’s also slightly possible that the friends are bullies and the guy is just a chickenshit who let it all go down.
Marcie July 7, 2014, 10:32 am
This sounds like a big mess. I hope you don’t see any of these people again.
Addie Pray July 7, 2014, 10:39 am
I would be really uncomfortable hanging around those people. From your description of that party, they were like vultures waiting to prey on you. Do everything Wendy says.
SGMcG July 7, 2014, 10:47 am
Wendy is right LW – your “boyfriend” and his neanderthal friends were totally inappropriate! I also don’t know the deal of the alleged girlfriends of the neanderthals who think it’s appropriate that their boyfriends were hitting on you in front of them and they let it continue. I mean what the hell?!?
Follow Wendy’s advice here. You have nothing to feel guilty about here. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.
Addie Pray July 7, 2014, 10:54 am
I agree she did nothing wrong – in that she did not deserve what happened and did not deserve to be hit on like that – and possibly more – without her consent. And I really feel for the LW; i can only imagine what it’s like being in this situation. But is it victim shaming to say: be cautious about drinking with that crew or a crew like that; when you walk in and everyone’s drunk and they make comments about how they want to have sex with you and get you drunk too, that should be a sign to walk away. Where’s the line between giving good advice to be smart, avoid dangerous situations if you can, etc., and victim shaming, which I don’t mean to do but feel like that’s what people will say?
kerrycontrary July 7, 2014, 11:55 am
AP—I think a lot of people struggle with this. All people (men and women) have to use common sense when it comes to their safety. No one would be raped without rapists and no one would be mugged without muggers, but there are bad people out in the world who do those things and people need to be vigilant about their personal safety. So I don’t think it’s wrong to say “if you are in a situation like this in the future, you should probably remove yourself”. It IS wrong to say “well you were in that situation and you stayed there, why didn’t you leave?” same thing as “you were drunk and dressed like that what did you expect?” I mean I don’t walk home in the dark at 2am because I could be assaulted/robbed, it’s just the truth. I don’t “shame” any victim who does do that, it’s horrible if it happened, but you have to be smart.
Kate B. July 7, 2014, 12:30 pm
Yes, this is a very real struggle. It seems like any response that suggests that there was anything that the victim could have done to mitigate the situation comes across as victim-shaming. (Look at all the thumbs down on this response.) For the record: I do not think that the LW is at fault. No one deserves to be raped. However, I don’t think that giving her the advice to avoid situations like this in the future is out of line. There will always be bad people in the world who want to do you harm. Everyone needs to make their personal safety a priority.
TaraMonster July 7, 2014, 1:26 pm
“It seems like any response that suggests that there was anything that the victim could have done to mitigate the situation comes across as victim-shaming.”
I think that’s exactly what makes it “shaming,” though, instead of advice. After an attempted or successful assault, the tape playing in the victim’s head is going to be “if I only did/didn’t do xyz, then this wouldn’t have happened to me. This is my fault.” The event is over. It cannot be changed. Reminding a person that they made mistakes in the aftermath of an assault does not warn them for the future, it only serves to “shame” that person, make them feel guilty and responsible for what happened, and leaves the person/people who perpetrated the assault out of the equation.
I actually see what you’re saying and it’s not my intention to pick on your comment, but this is exactly the difference between shaming and warning, which Kerry described so well. It’s not victim shaming to examine the situation for future reference, but it is victim shaming to tell the LW she should have done something differently. I mean that’s the definition of the verb “to shame” when used in its transitive sense: to make someone feel shame.
Kate B. July 7, 2014, 2:21 pm
I guess my problem with this then, is that are you supposed to wait until the person gets assaulted before you say something? I remember I responded to a LW who was in the habit of picking up guys in bars and taking them home. I remarked that this was not safe behavior, as you don’t who these guys are and all kinds of things can happen. I got flamed for it. What’s wrong with saying to someone, Look, if your going to go to a party and plan to drink a lot, make sure there’s someone there to look out for you? Now, granted, the BF should have done it in this case, but he didn’t. At what point does a person not have to be vigilant?
SasLinna July 7, 2014, 2:54 pm
To me it really depends a lot on the type of advice that is given. What irks me is very general advice like “don’t drink to much” or also the example you gave, “don’t take a guy home”. As such, these behaviors are not particularly unsafe. If I pick up a guy at a bar and take him home, there’s some small risk that something will happen to me, but it’s really not a greater risk than that my bf or a friend will rape me. And drinking is not generally unsafe either. What I do find acceptable is advice like “don’t take a guy with you if he’s pressuring you or acting shady” – like it’s found in the book “Gift of Fear”.
Painted_lady July 7, 2014, 3:34 pm
YES. I think women and girls and anyone who’s older than, like, ten, knows on a basic level what safe behaviors are. We all, as adults, have to judge for ourselves what risks we’re comfortable taking and which we aren’t because it is virtually impossible to never take any of those “common sense” risks. I mean, I just recently moved to an apartment where I don’t have to park my car on the street, which really bothered my dad for some reason – he felt it was unsafe and wanted me to pay for a garage spot half a mile away from my place – but if I lived in a different city, it would be nearly impossible to live anywhere I didn’t have to park on the street. I know people who don’t lock their cars because they’d rather have to replace their stereo than their windows. Is it something I could do? No way. But that’s their decision. I won’t let a stranger approach me on the street at night, but I’m okay being drunk-ish and walking home on that same street because I’m a pretty lucid drunk and don’t mind being really loud if that’s what it takes to get someone away from me.
HOWEVER…I think the advice that we can give about keeping safe, that’s not condescending, that’s not something that causes en masse eye rolling when you’ve heard it a few times, is that it is okay to trust your instincts about people. Even if all it is, is a nervous feeling, or something more concrete like, I expressed discomfort, he dismissed it and kept pushing me to do what he wanted, you can trust those instincts and act on them in whatever way you need to so that you can feel safe. You can be rude, you can be loud and abrasive and yell that you’re taking a cab (my preferred method because I’d rather have witnesses when I feel unsafe), or you can hide in a closet and call a friend to come get you. It’s okay to be a total bitch in those cases; even if the guy is totally safe, no ill intentions, and you just embarrassed him, THAT IS OKAY. I think we can and should say it.
SasLinna July 7, 2014, 3:44 pm
Yes, absolutely. The irony is that often women are discouraged from acting in ways that could actually protect them from violence, because those involve being rude, and women are taught to avoid being perceived as rude at all costs. On the flip side, women are told to avoid certain behaviors that aren’t actually dangerous, or at least no more dangerous than just being alive. I 100% take the approach that I will rather be rude to some guy than compromise my safety. But I definitely walk home alone at night and have done so for 15 years.
Amanda July 7, 2014, 3:56 pm
THIS. Most girls/women are raised to be polite and not hurt somebody else’s feelings regardless of where they may fall on the ass-monkey scale. There needs to be more empowerment that your wellbeing is more important than a stranger’s feelings.
Sonia July 8, 2014, 11:35 am
Yes, there’s a line in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo where the killer says it was so easy to lure victims because people don’t like to be rude (and more specifically women, since he mainly killed women)
SasLinna July 7, 2014, 1:51 pm
You know, I feel like warning people of a situation where other people have stated that they want to have sex with them and are clearly acting shady is kind of different from the general “don’t drink too much” warning. There were many more concrete warning signs here than just the drinking and the same amount of drinking could have been perfectly safe in another context. I don’t blame the LW for not leaving the situation, but I do feel it’s appropriate to say that if people are pretty much stating an intention to assault you, you should feel free to leave without another word.
Painted_lady July 7, 2014, 5:23 pm
AP, I get what you’re asking, and I don’t think giving people advice or telling them cautionary tales is inherently wrong. But there’s advice you can give that is so obvious that it’s condescending, and suggesting that something could have been done differently after the fact is just plain asshole behavior.
One of the ways I try to distinguish between these things is how I’d feel if, instead of rape, we were talking about someone’s car getting broken into. You’ve got the general advice that’s well-intended but often eyeroll-y, so “Be careful when you’re walking home alone!” is a really obvious one, which I equate to, “Make sure anything valuable is hidden or taken with you!” Like, really, yes, I know that one, thanks. People sometimes use that stuff as a benediction of sorts rather than actual advice – I tell you to be safe so you know I care and want you to come home safely – so it’s not offensive, but yeah, it’s sometimes annoying. (My mom says the be careful walking home alone one, and I always tell her no, I plan on doing Random Stupidly Dangerous Thing just to make her laugh and also so I don’t get snarky because really). Situation specific advice – “Don’t go to a party at that guy’s house, he gets SUPER creepy when he’s been drinking!” equates to, “I know a bunch of people who had their stereos stolen on this block, so don’t park there if you don’t have to.” It’s useful, and it’s not offensive. But then you get into situations where people feel like they know better what’s safe to do than the person doing it. I mentioned earlier that I know people who don’t lock their cars because they’d rather replace their stereo than their windows (or possibly both) and feel like someone who wants to steal their car won’t be daunted by a window, either. I also have a friend who was raped, who leaves her front door unlocked at night because it’s her way of taking control back from her rapist. Anyone who feels the need to tell any of these people why that’s not a good idea is kind of a dick, in my opinion. I’m pretty sure they all know what can happen, and assuming you’re going to give them new information on that front? Rather shitty. And then when that bad thing has already happened – someone gets raped, someone’s car gets broken into – and people feel the need to comment to the victim afterward, “Hey, maybe next time, do _________.” Those people can blow me. I once had my car broken into twice in a week, and someone asked if I’d pissed off one of my neighbors. I don’t remember the precise phrasing, but I’d had some issues in this apartment with the residents (I was quite poor and many of them were on lots of drugs, so it’s very difficult to explain to the crackhead next door that banging on the window at two in the morning to get a rise out of my dog is completely inappropriate), and whoever said it was clearly implying that I’d provoked the incidents – if I just had let the creepy guy bang on my window, for instance – and I needed to be a better neighbor to avoid my car getting broken into. If it had been just, “Who do you think did it? Is there someone who’s angry with you right now?” that would be one thing, but that wasn’t it.
I don’t know if anyone sees this the same way I do, but looking at it like that sometimes helps clarify for me when it’s appropriate to offer up commentary about how to be safe and when to keep my mouth shut,
JR July 7, 2014, 2:42 pm
So if a man gets drunk, kisses/sleeps with another woman at a party, he also did nothing wrong? I’m not trying to be snarky, that’s a serious question.
Cassie July 7, 2014, 3:50 pm
If he’s being victimized and/or raped, then no he did nothing wrong. Assault can happen to either sex by either sex.
JR July 7, 2014, 8:53 pm
The LW hasn’t told us yet that she was assaulted or raped here.
Cassie July 8, 2014, 1:10 am
However, that wasn’t your question which is what I’m replying to.
Red_Lady July 7, 2014, 10:56 am
The whole time I was reading this letter, all I could think was “where’s the bf?”. I know it’s good to be sociable and not cling to your SO all night, but it seems like a LOT happened while bf was MIA. And he’s believing what a bunch of drunk guys told him, over his girlfriend’s side of the story? Doesn’t sound like a worthwhile guy to me.
ktfran July 7, 2014, 11:02 am
From my understanding of the LW’s letter:
One “friend” said you two kissed….
Another “friend” took you into a bedroom and said you came onto him….
A “friend’s” boyfriend said you asked to have sex with him…
Your boyfriend is siding with everyone BUT YOU….
Something fishy went on, and it’s not with you, LW. It’s with all of these “friends.” Whether or not you were drugged, and I definitely hope you followed Wendy’s advice, these people, including your boyfriend, are doing serious psychological harm to you. Please reach out to friends not in this group and get rid of the toxic people.
SasLinna July 7, 2014, 1:29 pm
Yeah, I think it might be some kind of collective gaslighting effort – the friend group trying to make the LW feel crazy and force her out of the group (for whatever reason). It really stands out that LW is being accused of so many different things. One or two missteps while black-out drunk, maybe I could believe that. But four? Not so much.
ktfran July 7, 2014, 2:18 pm
Right? At least five people (I’m including the friend of my third statement) are fucking with her head. Regardless if anything actually did happen, they’re making her believe she did something wrong.
Bittergaymark July 7, 2014, 11:12 am
The boyfriend is a douche. As are his friends. But the tone of this response strikes me as rather alarmist. Blacking out parts of the night is ALSO an incredibly common occurrence when on gets completely smashed. Hence the term “black out drunk.” Just go ask ANY alcoholic.
Meanwhile, the LW clearly states: “I got very drunk.” Not that there was some great unsolved mystery as to how she got drunk. No “All I had was one drink, and suddenly I don’t remember anything.”
LW… Dump your BF. Immediately. And IF you routinely drink to the point if black out — seriously reexamine your relationship with alcohol.
Dear Wendy July 7, 2014, 11:31 am
It’s MORE THAN POSSIBLE that this LW was drugged and it’s irresponsible to suggest otherwise, or to say that because the LW remembers getting drunk, she must not have been drugged. NEWSFLASH (as you like to say): You can be really drunk AND be drugged. In fact, that’s often how it happens. And you know who drugs women at parties in order to take advantage of them? The kind of guys who would behave the way the LW describes the people at this party behaving. That this boyfriend disappeared seemingly ALL NIGHT, leaving his girlfriend alone with his “friends” who were shit-faced and hitting on his girlfriend IN FRONT OF HIM — telling her they wanted to have sex with her — speaks volumes, and it points — pretty clearly, I’d say — to the boyfriend being complicit in the events of the night. It sounds to me like some kind of hazing ritual, actually.
TaraMonster July 7, 2014, 11:34 am
Though I do agree with the possibility that she was drunk and not drugged, the in and out of consciousness she experienced in the evening sounds like the effects of rufilin. Regardless, those men intended to assault her, which is pretty terrifying. Since the LW is more worried about her boyfriend’s feelings right now, I think Wendy’s alarm is warranted; it may be the thing that gets LW out of this relationship and away from those horrible people.
And just as as side note, I’ve been around several people who were roofied and their behavior was, I guess the best word for it is, erratic. My best friend was roofied at a party when were 25. We had only been there for about 45 minutes when she suddenly seemed VERY trashed. So we left and by the time we got home it was obvious to me and another friend of ours that something was off and this wasn’t standard drunkeness, but the EMT and the hospital staff did not believe us until her blood work came back. Point is, it can be very difficult to tell the difference.
Portia July 7, 2014, 12:03 pm
My friend had a very similar experience with hospital staff once, but it didn’t end up being alcohol or being drugged. She had a drink or two then started violently throwing up for the next few hours, to the point that many of her friends were concerned for her. It also didn’t appear like her normal drunkenness. She didn’t want to go to the hospital for fear it’d go on her record that she was drinking underage (she had political aspirations), but ended up going because it was so severe and paid cash to avoid it going on her insurance. The entire time the hospital staff treated her like it was alcohol poisoning and wouldn’t listen to her objections or her friend’s objections, but she finally convinced them to do another test and it turned out to be an incredibly nasty stomach flu. So, not only can it be difficult to discern the difference between alcohol and being drugged, but the situation is made way worse by people who assume anything that looks like it is alcohol poisoning.
gigi July 7, 2014, 10:41 am
I am sorry this happened to you. It was absolutely not your fault & whether you were drugged or not, your BF should be ashamed of himself. That is not how you treat someone you care about & love at all! His friends are assholes & he is too. Please leave him in the gutter where he belongs & take care of yourself. You deserve better than this
TaraMonster July 7, 2014, 10:48 am
LW, I know this is all very hard to hear, but I really hope you take Wendy’s advice if you haven’t already. At the very least, there was a consensus between several of these men to harm you in some way- psychologically or physically or both. It really does sound like you were drugged. Is there someone (besides your boyfriend) who you trust and who you can confide in? It’s really important for you to have someone to talk to right now, regardless of what *actually* happened that night because what DID happen is you were in a traumatic situation and a trusted confidant is invaluable while you sort through all this. Take care.
TMD260 July 7, 2014, 11:55 am
This letter is really disturbing…Your bf & his friends sound like the scum of the earth.
To me, this sounds like some sort of set up. I’m not exactly sure why these people & your bf would go to these lengths to set you up, but that’s what I am getting from this letter…If that’s not the case, your bf is a naive moron that did not notice ANY of this going on while you were too drunk to remember anything? I call bullshit.
Either way- this whole situation is beyond unsettling and the only advice I see fit would be to dump your bf immediately & never go near any of those people again. If you have to prove to your bf that you didn’t cheat on him after all this that went on- again, he sounds like a piece of shit as well as his friends…
I’m sorry this has happened to you, but you can recover from this. Run far far FAR away from all of these people! Get yourself back together.
PS. I just read some theories that you may have been drugged…I think that could be a definite possibility from everything you’ve stated in your letter. These people are bad news. You deserve way better than this. Good luck to you! Stay strong!
Lynn July 7, 2014, 11:58 am
I was roofied once. I had half a beer (some random person bought it hah) and I was found passed out on the bathroom floor not even 10 minutes later. I do not remember a single second beyond that drink. My friends say my behavior was erratic and they couldn’t understand what happened. This happened in the afternoon at a bar and when I woke up the next day, my memory was completely wiped out. Pretty crazy. When I’ve been “black out drunk”… I remember bits and pieces. But being drugged… It’s all gone. Couldn’t tell you a damn thing. Thank God for my friends that day.
Sorry this happened to you, LW. I’m hoping you weren’t drugged. Drop the boyfriend.
Shanon July 7, 2014, 12:04 pm
Forget what the boyfriend should have done. You need to take better care of yourself, LW. So you decided to get “very drunk” even after a group of losers made their intentions with you pretty clear? Why didn’t you just leave out of the sheer lack of respect from these “friends” & your boyfriend? Let alone make yourself completely vulnerable around them.
The first (& only) time I drank I got very very drunk all by myself (fiancé came home, laughed at me, & then held my hair back while I vomited) & the in & out of consciousness thing really does happen. She doesn’t sound like she was drugged to me. I’m not sure why everyone immediately jumps to that. Also while they may have pressured her for sex, they all seemed to stop when she said no, according to what she remembers.
Frankly LW, YOU need to watch out for YOU. Don’t depend on anyone else, don’t count on anyone else. ANYONE who drinks to the point of blacking out makes themselves vulnerable, & because you’re a woman there’s more people out there willing to take advantage of you. Keep yourself safe.
bostonpupgal July 7, 2014, 12:13 pm
Um…wow. Way to victim blame here.
Newsflash: nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing justifies the behavior of these guys. The LW is not responsible for “acting” the right way, or dressing in the “right” way, or drinking the “right” amount so as not to get drugged, assaulted, or raped. It is the responsibility of men not to rape. And no offense, but your one experience of drinking too much (which is apparently ok, even though the LW’s experience is not) does not make you an expert on drinking or getting drugged. I can tell you that the behavior of these men was extremely suspicious and concerning.
Shanon, you need to look up “rape culture” and get educated, like, right now
Shanon July 7, 2014, 12:22 pm
Oh here we go…
Uh, I never said getting drunk was ok or not ok…the difference was I did it alone. She can do whatever she wants, but it’s common sense to choose a safe environment if you’re going to make yourself vulnerable.
Also who’s trying to justify the guys behavior? No ones even talking about that. I’m talking about HER behavior. In a perfect world, guys wouldn’t rape. But here in realty, they do. They know it’s wrong, & do it anyway. If it was as simple as telling them “hey that’s wrong, don’t do that”, the prisons would be empty.
You can try to twist everything I said & use it as an excuse to go on your tangent about “victim blaming” & “rape culture”, but all I’m saying is common sense.
Shanon July 7, 2014, 12:27 pm
Also yes, “the behavior of these men was extremely suspicious & concerning”. But apparently she was not concerned enough to protect herself & proceeded to waste her time talking to them & get black out drunk with them.
HmC July 7, 2014, 1:04 pm
They know it’s wrong, & do it anyway. If it was as simple as telling them “hey that’s wrong, don’t do that”, the prisons would be empty.”
I disagree with you there. I see this sentiment a lot and I think it fosters a rape culture and patriarchy where a lot of men do NOT think they are doing anything wrong when they rape a woman. Obviously there are some men out there that know what they’re doing is wrong and do it anyway, but you know, I think most PEOPLE usually want to do the right thing and believe that they are. We live in a patriarchy where for decades and decades, women have been instructed on how not to get raped cuz “boys will be boys”. Systematically focusing on how women could have avoided getting raped instead of focusing on how important it is to have a woman’s consent is the problem and is what has created this culture where men who rape drunk women aren’t really criminals and victims are to blame for not protecting their vaginas enough. It’s bullshit.
Shanon July 7, 2014, 1:19 pm
I really don’t think most men in this country are that ignorant. I’m sure they can tell the difference between when the woman is reciprocating & when she’s passed out on the floor, nor do they lose all grasp of the English language if she says “no”. They know it’s wrong to have sex with an unconscious person, or someone who is obviously telling them to stop. I happen to think it’s natural for most humans to actually want to have sex with someone who is aware & enjoying it with them. The fact that you say it’s them simply not knowing that raping a woman is wrong almost paints them as innocent. Ignorant at the least. I don’t buy that.
kare July 7, 2014, 7:52 pm
Sharon, you are very fortunate that your life experiences have led you to such a naive outlook towards human beings. I’m almost jealous.
bostonpupgal July 7, 2014, 1:10 pm
Shanon, I’m going to try to explain this to you. You state “no ones even talking about that (the mens’ behavior). I’m talking about HER behavior”. That’s my point. That, in a nutshell, is rape culture, and one of the reasons your comment is so terrible. I say this with real sincerity, you need to do some research on this and reevaluate your approach and your opinions. Notice that out of sixty plus comments on this thread, you are the only one, and I mean the only one, who took this “tough love, look what happened to you because of your poor decisions” approach and you’re getting called out on your victim blaming for doing it. Good for you for getting drunk the “right” way under the “right” circumstances and not getting drugged or assaulted, but your ignorance is showing, and I suggest you remedy that.
If you want to know how to gently and successfully suggest staying away from those sort of situations in the future, I suggest you look at kerrycontrary and Addie Prays comments above.
Shanon July 7, 2014, 1:24 pm
Do not put words in my mouth. I never said “look what happened to you bc of your poor decisions”. We don’t even know if anything did happen! I’m simply trying to help her (& others) not let it happen again. We don’t even know if she was a victim of anything, I’m not sure why you want to assume the worst for this girl.
HmC July 7, 2014, 1:26 pm
“They know it’s wrong to have sex with an unconscious person, or someone who is obviously telling them to stop.”
Ever heard of Steubenvile? There are a lot of men (and women) out there that see a voluntarily drunk woman as fair game in many situations. And when you’re in the situation and you’re horny and you know your behavior is somewhat at least implicitly condoned, you’re more likely to convince yourself it’s ok. Mentalities and “common sense” advice like yours perpetuates this view. I think that way more people than you realize do not see taking advantage of a drunk person as rape.
Shanon July 7, 2014, 3:12 pm
If you have to “convince” yourself of something, that means your first instinct is that it’s wrong. So whether they were “talked into” it or “convinced” themselves it was ok, they still knew it was wrong. Just because everyone around you tells you something is ok is NOT an excuse. Peer pressure is not an excuse. People are responsible for their own decisions & actions. I don’t think most men are that naive & ignorant, & I don’t think most men are capable of being convinced it’s ok to rape someone.
Also the LW states when she got there the guys were all already very drunk. So how can they be held responsible for their actions, but she not for hers? How can either consent? Should we make all drunk sex illegal?
She was sober & made the decision to get wasted with people who made it clear what they wished to do with her. Automatically, the guys are scumbags & you should leave their company immediately. She made a very bad decision, & she may have gotten away unscathed this time (but we don’t know for sure) & she needs to not do this again.
HmC July 7, 2014, 3:45 pm
“I don’t think most men are that naive & ignorant, & I don’t think most men are capable of being convinced it’s ok to rape someone.”
You are missing my point. I’m not saying most men are naive, ignorant, evil, etc. Most men, most people believe what they’re doing is okay. If they convince themselves something is ok enough that they follow through and do it, that is the problem. Rape culture that sees no big issue with taking advantage of a drunk person is enough to, in my opinion, push a lot of otherwise pretty decent people into thinking that stuff is okay and thinking the girl is probably asking for it etc. if she got herself drunk enough and put herself in that situation. I think you need to seriously examine why so many people are taking issue with how you are wording things, and I’d also recommend you just read the Wikipedia page for the Stuebenville attacks. No, I don’t think those kids are evil incarnate. I think they’re pretty typical which is EXACTLY THE PROBLEM and that kind of mentality is excacerbated when people like you focus all your energy on how SHE needs to “not do this again” as if she is the main problem. Also please keep in mind the vast history of rape acceptance in this country and how that colors a comment that essentially advises victims to be more “responsible”.
TaraMonster July 7, 2014, 12:33 pm
Oh good for you! What a saint you are for not being a messy drunk like those *other* girls who don’t look out for themselves!
At it’s most innocent, your larger “point” is “watch out for yourself,” but you’re not the first or last person who will make that enlightening observation so that high horse you’re on? You can get the hell off it.
Bottom line: these dudes tried to assault LW. That disgusting decision? That’s all on THEM. So YEAH YOU ARE VICTIM BLAMING.
Shanon July 7, 2014, 12:56 pm
You are almost too obnoxious to respond to, but-
First of all, maybe she needs to be enlightened, because she did directly put herself in a dangerous situation. Whether I’m the first or last person to say it doesn’t matter, I’m going to say it anyway bc you shouldn’t be so quick to assume everyone just already knows how to protect themselves.
What do you want me to do? Be like everyone else who says “oh you poor victim! You did NOTHING wrong!”, & not try to help her avoid situations like this again? Just be like, “oh well there was nothing you could have done & are just doomed to be a victim if it ever happens again…”? Forget that. She can help herself if it ever happens again.
Lucy July 7, 2014, 1:32 pm
As with so many things in reality, it’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it. Here’s an article by a victim in response to your exqct approach that may be helpful to you.
JR July 7, 2014, 2:57 pm
Which is countered by yet another article:
TaraMonster July 7, 2014, 4:53 pm
Oh it’s dictionary time. “Countered” is the wrong term. You’re looking for “making a lot of flimsy excuses for the dumb shit initially said.”
TaraMonster July 7, 2014, 1:59 pm
WHAAAAATTTT?! You mean all I had to do to get you not to reply with more of your victim blaming nonsense was be more obnoxious!?
Note to self: be more obnoxious in future comments. 😀
wcgreen July 7, 2014, 12:27 pm
Shanon is correct. When your friends and your boyfriend are not willing to treat you with respect, then it’s up to you to protect yourself. If you found yourself surrounded by hungry lions, would you do your best to get to safety or would you slather yourself in ketchup and continue to party in the hope the lions didn’t really mean it?
HmC July 7, 2014, 1:07 pm
Great analogy! Cuz men are just unthinking, salivating, sex-starved animals who cannot control their urges amiright?
wcgreen July 7, 2014, 1:48 pm
Hardly. The vast majority of men are intelligent, caring, and polite–just as the vast majority of women are the same. Only a small minority of humanity commit crimes; they prey on the weak and helpless.
There is no shame in leaving a dangerous situation. There will be other parties.
Kate B. July 7, 2014, 2:58 pm
This ties in to what I was trying to say above. At what point do we give up personal responsibility? In a perfect world, everyone would be good and we could do whatever we want and not worry about getting hurt. But we don’t live in a perfect world. Yes, there needs to be more education of young men and women about consent and how important it is. But, knowing this does not mean you get to walk around with blinders on. To reiterate, the LW did nothing wrong. I can see how she would have felt safe doing what she did, because she’d hung out with these people before and nothing like this ever happened. The fault for what happened lies with the bf and his friends. But, at some point, her gut must have told her that something was wrong. She needs to know, everyone needs to know, that it is perfectly okay to leave a situation in which you are not comfortable. No one else has the right to make you stay. But, if you are going to put yourself in a vulnerable situation, you need to take precautions. To me, this is akin to jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. If you do that, you don’t get to say your broken leg was a total accident.
Cassie July 7, 2014, 3:45 pm
I definitely agree that she did not do anything wrong, and that it is men’s responsibility to not rape. Of course there’s no point in saying, “Why didn’t you…?” or “You should have…” because what’s done is done. But I also see the need for educating women on how to be safe and take precautions. I don’t see how that’s victim blaming?
It would be great if we could let our guards down and not have to worry about safety, but that’s not the world we live in. I mean, a whole frickin’ hashtag #yesallwomen went around highlighting people’s stories of what has happened to them. The hard truth is that, until the world does change, we still have to look out for ourselves and our friends, and exercise judgment and precaution. Preventative measures are there to help so we don’t get hurt. It’s not 100% effective, of course, and it shouldn’t have to be that way. But, for the time being, it is that way.
findingtheearth July 7, 2014, 12:09 pm
If she has hung out with these group of guys before, she may be used to their behavior and just assumed it was like normal. (even though it is in no way acceptable, but rape culture is an assumed norm for many women and many social groups) I agree with everything Wendy said. You need to get some help for this. In no way is anything that happened your fault, and your boyfriend should have been honorable and removed you from the situation. It might be good to evaluate your relationship with your boyfriend and if he is someone you can really trust to love you, care for you, and be respectful of you. This whole scenario makes me think he is not a good person, and neither are his friends.
gigi July 7, 2014, 11:34 am
Good point BGM, if I arrived at a party & heard guys making comments about getting me drunk & having sex with me, I would be limiting what I drank & keeping my wits about me. That being said, however drunk the LW may have been does not excuse the treatment she received from these “friends”….
waterbug July 7, 2014, 12:38 pm
This sounds so horrible. I am very sorry you had to go through this. Honestly, your bf sounds like an asshole. Who leaves someone they care about alone, around guys making jokes about having sex with them? Even if you were stone cold sober he should have stayed with you or left the party if the comments were bothering you. And sleeping in another room when the person is drunk in a strange place? Hell no. Don’t waste your time convincing him, just leave. You don’t say how long you’ve been together but I am guessing only a few months, so just move on and no need to explain why to him.
I do agree that in the future, and for anyone, be careful about who you get drunk around. Not just for sexual stuff, but you never know what secrets you may reveal! There are very few people I’ll get actually drunk around (best friend, her husband, my fiance) because I trust them and I trust them to watch out for me. And we have an agreement that if we are out, at least one of us stays in good enough shape to navigate a tricky situation. I hope you also seek out some therapy to help you deal with this situation since I image it is rather traumatizing.
sobriquet July 7, 2014, 12:48 pm
This sounds like a high school or early college aged party to me, in which everyone is incredibly wasted because either that’s the goal, or they haven’t developed/don’t know their tolerance level yet. It would also explain this kind of hazing set up, as well as the boyfriend not being around/caring about the LW. Often those young relationships are only about sex and status. Everybody was there drinking all night, everyone crashed at the party… this does not sound like a mature woman who should “know better” not to drink around those losers. Even then, when you’re young your tolerance is often pretty low, so it’s feasible that she could have gotten very drunk on very little alcohol.
LW, I would avoid those kinds of parties completely from now on, or at least have a getaway plan in place. If you’re young like I suspect, then it’s important for you to understand that a lot of the guys you’ll come into contact with believe it’s socially/morally acceptable to pressure a woman into sex as long as she’s drunk. I urge you to read about rape culture so that you have a better understanding of the tactics that are used and the blame that is often placed on the woman like in your situation. I’m sorry that you, like so many of us before you, are having to deal with this.
ktfran July 7, 2014, 12:56 pm
I’m glad you mentioned tolerance in a more reasonable way than others. And about that, I would like to add this… and I’m experienced with drinking…
One night, I could easily have three or four drinks and be fine. The next week, I could easily drink the same amount and feel completely different afterwards. There’s SO
ktfran July 7, 2014, 12:59 pm
Wow, I hit reply before I finished. Anyway, there’s SO MUCH MORE TO DRINKING THAN JUST HOW MANY DRINKS YOU HAVE THAT PARTICULAR NIGHT. For instance, you might have a cold, or you might not have eaten enough that day, or you might already be a bit dehydrated. IDK, it’s so hard to say don’t drink that much because you really don’t know what else is going on with that person’s body chemistry at that time.
sobriquet July 7, 2014, 1:33 pm
Exactly. And the concept of drinking “too much” is completely relative to the majority of people- especially teens/young adults. For me, “too much alcohol” has meant a range of different things over the years- from blacking out or throwing up in my late teens, to sleeping through my alarm clock or “hooking up” with someone in my early twenties, to now so much as having a hangover the next day.
There are so many factors that go into drinking and I think it’s pointless to just say “don’t drink too much” because everyone that drinks alcohol has had “too much” to drink at one point in their lives however they want to define it.
waterbug July 7, 2014, 1:42 pm
I love this line” this does not sound like a mature woman who should “know better” not to drink around these losers”. So much of growing up is learning tough stuff like this and some of us are lucky and able to learn our tolerance in a safe space with people who watch out for us. But many do not get that experience. it can be tough to learn your tolerance and you’d hope that with your bf would be a safe space to explore and experiment with drinking. I was lucky in that when I first experimented with alcohol (I was over 21, so past when many of my friends did) I did so with my bf and he did watch out for me and kept me safe a couple times I was learning limits. Sadly, this isn’t always the case and it sounds like she had good intentions of drinking with bf and friends (should be safe space, in theory) but they were assholes.
HmC July 7, 2014, 4:08 pm
You know I think there is a place for showing women how to protect themselves, and it’s certainly a conversation that I would have with my daughter. But there is a lot of history and a lot of implications in society’s constant and quick “well you should be responsible!” reaction to sex crime victims and it’s really important that we understand what is going on there. It’s not that people shouldn’t look out for themselves, they absolutely should! It’s that that we should really examine why we’re so quick to jump right to the self responsibility angle when we hear someone has been a victim of rape or sexual assault. If someone does get robbed, are people’s *first* reactions usually “well what could you have done differently?”. It doesn’t seem like it, to me. It seems like they’re just like “oh wow that sucks, whoever did that is an asshole!”.
And the weird thing is that even when you explain this dynamic, people are really resistant to understand it. Even if they have never been a victim themselves or are close to anyone who has been a rape victim. They just dig in further because well, it’s logical to be responsible for yourself, to protect yourself etc. But I think that mentality ignores a lot of historical backdrop as well as the more subtle socialized ideas that are going on.
I’ve commented a lot on this topic already so I should just leave it there, but I wanted to make one last point and that is that I truly believe that at least some part of this diehard mentality where people’s first reaction to sex crime victims is to look for what the victim did wrong- I think that if we believe that, we believe we can avoid being a victim ourselves and it makes us feel safer. If we believe that only drunk girls get raped or slutty girls or girls in short skirts, it gives us a game plan for avoiding it happening to us. From my experience working with prosecutors and a few of my law school classes, I have been told several times that women jury members are harsher on rape victims than male jury members, and I think that’s super interesting and ties into what we’re talking about here. The theory is that woman jury members want to just believe the woman is a slut or was asking for it in some way because it helps them feel more immune to being victimized.
HmC July 7, 2014, 4:10 pm
Whoops this comment was supposed to be to Cassie at 3:45 above. My computer is being whacko!
Painted_lady July 7, 2014, 5:34 pm
I think sometimes, yes, people still do that with robbery. Just a second ago I made a post about how my car was broken into twice in a week when I was really poor and living in a very scary apartment complex, and aside from the specific comment I mentioned above, I got so much, “Wow, what are you doing to bring this on?” commentary, anywhere from, “Did you have, like, money on the dashboard or something?” (my response: “Well, other than the stack of hundreds I left on the passenger seat, I don’t recall anything…”) to “Maybe you should move to a safer apartment” (I don’t remember my exact response, but I seem to recall a lot of shouting).
But the difference there is, the people who were standing around when these things were said pretty universally and immediately acknowledged that the suggestions were complete and utter assholery. I recognized it myself and didn’t feel like there might have been a kernel of truth. Victim-blaming in those sorts of situations is far less toxic because the victim is doing much less blaming of him or herself than rape victims do. The shame is far less.i
HmC July 7, 2014, 5:53 pm
Oh yes that’s another great point. You have victims who are already more apt to blame themselves and feel shame, so pointing out there culpability is even less helpful (and more damaging).
Lucy July 7, 2014, 1:10 pm
Dump the boyfriend. Anyone who would let his friends treat you that way is worthless. Get tested for STDs. It’s possibly too late for any drugs to be in your system, but get tested anyway. And if there’s a next time you find yourself surrounded by drunken scumbags, don’t bother being nice. Just walk out. Lastly, if you find yourself drinking to the point that your memory is impaired on a regular basis, you need to stop. That shit is not good for your body or your brain, regardless of whether it also makes you more vulnerable.
waterbug July 7, 2014, 1:57 pm
The doctor will probably tell you (LW) this also, but get tested again in a few months. Sometimes it can take awhile to test positive. And if you are not on birth control, throw a pregnancy test in also.
judgesheryl July 7, 2014, 1:15 pm
I don’t understand why people claim ‘victim blame’ when you try to say someone should have used common sense in a situation like that. Shame on the guys/bf at this party. Absolutely. But you sleep with locks on your doors right? You wouldn’t leave your wallet unattended right? My body is much more important and i try to take the neccesary precautions to protect it. That includes removing myself from a situation where there are people I don’t trust, or if that is not possible, watching my drink, and being careful to try to keep my wits about me. Do women still get drugged/ assaulted even by doing this? Sure. And it is not their fault. And it isn’t her ‘fault’ if she doesn’t. But the LW made no indication that she even tried to take common sense precautions to protect herself, and there, yes, she was wrong and should change this in the future.
Lucy July 7, 2014, 1:29 pm
JR July 7, 2014, 2:39 pm
waterbug July 7, 2014, 1:54 pm
Would you hide your wallet from your friends and bf? Or do you expect that they won’t steal from you? Even if they made a comment about wanting money, you still probably wouldn’t hide it because they’re your friends and you’ve had money in your wallet around them before, NBD. Then they steal from you. Are you at fault for not hiding your wallet?
There is a big difference between walking around, black out drunk, alone, at night, in a “dangerous” area and maybe not sure where you are, verses being at a house party with a pretty small group of people you’ve hung out with before, including your bf. If she was doing the first, then I could see your point a LITTLE more. But she did trust his friends, trusted her bf and was at a house party. Her bf and his friends should have used more common sense and decency.
selgnirp July 7, 2014, 2:11 pm
THIS x100. She went to a party with her boyfriend – Someone she obviously trusted enough to be drunk around, and she knew the other people before. She even said their behavior never got to that point before. Why did she need to be so cautious if she knew the people she was with and trusted them to be drunk around? With this logic no one is safe drinking with anyone else (BTW drinking alone isn’t “safe” either).
judgesheryl July 7, 2014, 6:46 pm
yes, they should have used more common sense and decency. but they didn’t, and I never said those people might or might not have committed a crime. Let’s use something more valuable than a wallet…because you are right, I probably wouldnt have hidden my wallet on a “joke” either.
Example: You are at a friends bbq, when one of their friends you have met several times, and is noticeably more intoxicated than ever before. He makes a questionable pedophilic comment about your child… not enough to warrant an immediate punch to the balls, but something to trigger a Mama radar. Do you let your child alone with that person EVER? Hell no. same situation here.
ABsolutely, the guys should not have been assholes (in every way they were in this story). And parents of sons should work to not make their sons assholes as much as parents of daughters today should teach them the warning signs. But there is always going to be a criminal, sometime, no matter how much we work to fix the rape culture.
judgesheryl July 7, 2014, 7:16 pm
and yes, by that logic, everyone should try to avoid getting to near or full blackout drunk. even around people you trust.
if you are regularly getting blackout drunk then you need to evaluate your life decisions. It should not be difficult for good friends or yourself to know if you have been drugged (or something went horribly wrong– like a medicine reaction or something) and both those things should be treated with the same reaction… get to someplace safe…
and others should not immediately assume someone was just careless/ getting blackout drunk, they shouldnt help them if they look like they need it.
however, if so many people would stop getting blackout drunk on purpose, it might help identify those who dont.
ktfran July 7, 2014, 2:14 pm
Except this is directly from the LW….
” I have gone to a party with my boyfriend where this same group of people were, and they never tried anything before.”
Therefore, one can assume she among people she could trust, including her boyfriend.
JR July 7, 2014, 2:27 pm
Let me get this straight. So it’s the boyfriend’s responsibility to stop his girlfriend from acting inappropriately? He’s responsible for her drinking? He’s supposed to control her behavior?
So women are still supposed to be under the care of men? Right…. Assuming he was drunk too, wouldn’t she have been equally responsible for taking care of him? Whatever happened to equal rights?
If the genders were reversed, would Wendy have called the girlfriend a “thoughtless d-bag” for not pulling her boyfriend out of there? Hell no.
It’s kind of funny how Dear Wendy is a feminist blog, except when it isn’t.
waterbug July 7, 2014, 2:46 pm
If my “friends” were hitting on my fiance and making jokes about me going to sleep so they could have sex with him, I sure as hell would not leave him alone with those creeps. I’ve watched out for him when he drinks, just like he does for me. This isn’t about controlling her behavior, it is about not leaving her alone with men who are making crude comments and hitting on her and wanting to have sex with her. If LW was with a female friend, comments would be similar…”your friend shouldn’t have left you, don’t count on her to have your back next time, you watch out for each other, don’t leave the other alone with men making comments about having sex with you (unless those are wanted comments!)”. Gender has nothing to do with this. If you go to a party with someone, you watch out for each other.
JR July 7, 2014, 2:56 pm
If the LW were a child, I would agree with you. But she (I assume) is an adult, so no one was “leaving her with a bunch of guys”. This was her decision. This whole male-must-take-care-of-female mentality leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
ktfran July 7, 2014, 3:05 pm
That is not at all what people are saying and if you took five seconds to actually comprehend what we’re saying, it’s this:
Friends should look after one another, regardless of gender or relationship. Not one single “friend” at this party had the the LW’s back. Therefore, she should dump said “friend’s.”
I can give a myriad of examples where people have had my back, have looked out for me and have sent me home if I’ve had too much to drink. Or, I can give myriad examples of nearly every single one of my friends wanting me to text when I’ve made it home safely, even when I’m 100% sober.
The LW thought she was among friends, especially her boyfriend, and so she should have been safe, but she wasn’t.
It’s a sad, sad world you live in that you can’t fathom friends and boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives looking out for one another.
JR July 7, 2014, 3:13 pm
You are attacking a strawman, since I never said that friends and boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives shouldn’t look out for one another.
The problem comes when you make it sound like the BF has the same mandatory responsibility of care, like a parent or guardian does, and that he has that power to control her behavior, as if she isn’t an adult.
If the LW drove home drunk that night after the party and got a DUI, who would be blamed? You, and Wendy, and the LW could blame the BF all day long, but the law would place the blame squarely at the feet of the LW, and she would get the DUI. That’s the reality.
ktfran July 7, 2014, 3:46 pm
Actually, I’m not placing blame on the boyfriend at all. What I do find reprehensible is him siding with he friends and not supporting her.
Portia July 7, 2014, 2:58 pm
Thank you waterbug.
I also watch out a bit for my boyfriend when we’re out together drinking, be it at a party or bar or club or whatever, just like he does for me. More than once I’ve noticed he’d gotten that “little too much” face on and I took it upon myself to make sure he was hydrated and not drinking more. There was one time when he went to a gay club with a few friends and on his way to the bathroom got picked up by and then slammed into a wall by a few predatory guys. Did I blame him for that happening? Hell no! Did I say he was “sending out signals” or brought it upon himself or ask how much he’d been drinking? Of course not! I supported him and was his sounding board and made sure he knew there was no excuse for what they did. That’s what a good partner does, regardless of gender.
JR July 7, 2014, 3:38 pm
Then when your BF was “slammed into a wall by a few predatory guys” were YOU to blame for that?
Because that would be consistent with blaming the BF in the LW’s situation.
Painted_lady July 7, 2014, 4:30 pm
No, I think what’s being said here, and the equivalent in Portia’s situation, is not that it was her fault Bassanio was attacked, but that she would be the same brand of asshole as LW’s BF if she saw it happen, did nothing to help him get safe, and left his ass at the club because she was angry that he “allowed” it to happen and then accused him of cheating on her. It’s not exactly the same, but when you’ve got a predatory situation, and other people not only don’t step in when they can (and anyone should step in, but most especially the people you’re close to) but then blame the person being preyed upon, that’s where those bystanders carry some responsibility. No one must *prevent* something shady from happening, but if they see it and don’t try to stop it, then they should be blamed, not for stopping it, but for not even attempting to.
The only sort of situation where I’d say that the boyfriend shouldn’t have said, “Hey dude, knock it off, she’s drunk and you’re creepy,” is if the boyfriend felt unsafe to do so (one of the guys threatened him, say), but in any case, acknowledging that his girlfriend was in a shitty situation would still be expected. And instead of that, he’s saying she cheated on him.
Portia July 7, 2014, 4:33 pm
First, I wasn’t there. Second, it was on his way to the bathroom, which was the first time all night he wasn’t around his friends (female friends, so they couldn’t go together). Apparently it all escalated very quickly, and both my friend and boyfriend agree that it seemed to come out of nowhere, which is not consistent with the story from this letter (the guys were hitting on her in front of her boyfriend).
Finally, I credit my one friend immensely because she either saw what was going on or he came back to her immediately to tell her what happened (I can’t remember) and she made sure my boyfriend and friends made a beeline for the door, no questions asked. And that is how you act when you see a friend in an iffy situation – as soon as possible you either stand up for them or get them the hell out of there.
Married By Elvis July 7, 2014, 5:50 pm
I’ll probably get flamed for this so I’ll start with some sucking up.
I’m an advice column addict and I’ve always felt that this site has the best commenters all around- good advice, generally compassionate, a marked lack of judgment. Many of the comments to this post exemplify those qualities that I see over and over in comments here.
As a mother to a daughter who is rapidly approaching an age where I have to start having hard conversations I struggle with the idea that discussing ways to protect yourself means that you are blaming victims for being assaulted. I have to discuss that with her even while emphasizing that rape and assault victims are not to blame for what happened to them. That doesn’t mean that if something happened it would be her fault, regardless whether she took my advice.
I had typed a big long explanation about my own experience with a drunken sexual assault, but it just showed my struggle with this issue.
Painted_lady July 7, 2014, 6:10 pm
I think there’s a definite difference in the “ways to stay safe” conversations you have with kids you’re raising and the victim-blaming people are doing regarding how much LW had to drink.
I think the biggest thing that we can teach girls with regard to rape and how to do everything they can to prevent it, is to teach them to own the things they can control. They are in charge of deciding what they are comfortable with and feel safe doing – walking down a dark alley, taking home strangers – and that is their decision, 100% (obviously, within parental rules till adulthood). And within what they’re in charge of, that means they absolutely get to tell people, “You make me feel unsafe. I need you to leave.” And they get to use whatever means necessary to ensure that safety, without judgment.
Anon July 7, 2014, 6:15 pm
I worry that will all the talk of victim blaming, we are losing the possibility of constructive research and discussion into how women can stay safer? Are we infantalizing women when we say that this is all on men, and that there is nothing a woman can do to prevent or lessen the possibility of assault? If a woman is afraid to ask or offer friends advice on how to avoid dangerous situations because of “victim blaming” we are losing a large part of this conversation.
Anon July 7, 2014, 7:03 pm
One of my biggest regrets in life was not getting a urine sample and testing for drugs after I had a night very similar to this. I know for a fact he did assault me when he locked me in the room because people eventually broke down the door and got me out. I wish I had gathered evidence against him, but at the time I blamed myself. LW,
I hope that if you feel in your heart that more happened without your consent, that you follow Wendy’s advice. And I hope you get away from this group because no one should make you feel this way. Those aren’t friends.
Side note: victim blaming is a powerful force. I know intellectually that the two incidents of sexual assault were absolutely not my fault. But to this day (8/9 years later) I’ve never really told anyone, in fear that they will blame me just because alcohol was involved (both times I had 1-2 drinks while underage).
LS July 7, 2014, 8:48 pm
I used to work with an organization that taught college students about sexual assault prevention. We made a big distinction between preventing sexual assault (ex: changing the ways we talk and think about sex/sexuality/sexual assault, teaching active consent, dismantling rape culture etc) and risk reduction (ex: knowing your limits when drinking, being aware of your surroundings, trusting your gut etc).
The only way to truly prevent sexual assault is to stop rapists/assaulters from assaulting. Until that happens, risk reduction is still important to talk about but we have to be clear that any and all risk reduction techniques won’t prevent sexual assault. It’s not helpful or productive to talk about risk reduction after the fact as if some magic combination of risk reduction would have prevented the assault. It is especially unhelpful when risk reduction techniques contradict themselves (such as the advice to keep your phone out so you can easily call for help turning into “why would you have your phone out, it just made you distracted from your surroundings”).
Analyzing/asking/commenting about these risk reduction techniques after the fact can also be a slippery slope. For instance, say the LW’s BF was her only way home in this situation. Say she DID decide to extricate herself, but since she was stranded, she had to walk home alone and was assaulted along the way. Should she have stayed at the party where it was “safe”? What is the magic combination of tactics in this scenario or the millions of other “what ifs”?
However, that’s not to say that we can’t talk about risk reduction in the aftermath of an assault. Like others before me have said–it’s the difference between talking about the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” and saying “if you want to avoid a situation like this in the future, try these specific actions”. Or between saying a blanket “don’t drink so much” vs. “know your limits and how they can fluctuate–if you find you’re regularly going beyond your limits, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your habits”. Additionally, it’s knowing the audience and taking the right tone. Everyone has heard the refrain “watch your drink/don’t walk alone/don’t get too drunk” etc and repeating this ad nauseum is condescending–but there’s a difference between this coming in the form of a chipper “be safe, don’t walk alone!” from mom compared to your judge-y ‘friend’ telling you: “you know it’s stupid to walk home alone, right?”
I think there is room for discussion about both risk reduction AND the larger ways that individuals and society can prevent sexual assault, but victim blaming does not belong in these conversations.
Cassie July 8, 2014, 1:41 am
This is exactly what I was trying to say above, but you said it so much more eloquently.
Canis Maximus July 16, 2014, 9:50 am
Agree with Wendy completely about kicking the d-bag to the curb. Don’t take drinks that other people pour or mix to minimize rufies.