My best friend and I sat down to dinner. He told me that he had been sexually assaulted by a friend several months ago when they were drunk. He didn’t use those words—“sexually assaulted”.
He said it felt minor because it didn’t escalate.
He said he felt guilty for causing more problems.
He never said “rape” or “sexually assaulted.”
I am vocal about my opinion on rape, rape culture, and the shaming of rape victims. I firmly believe that people can be lead to believe they are not victims of rape because they were drunk, wearing a short skirt, or flirting. I hate that.
I hate that it seemed wrong for me to even use the phrase “sexual assault” during our conversation. It angered me that we called it “being taken advantage of” because that made it seem insignificant. But it is significant. Rape is rape. Sexual assault is sexual assault.
Here’s my dilemma: if I called it “sexual assault” when he didn’t, am I victimizing him or helping him overcome the obstacles that society puts out?
If I tell him he was sexually assault, am I making him a victim in a situation where he may not feel entirely like a victim? Or would saying he was sexually assaulted help him realize that there is no minor kind of assault and nonconsensual sexual acts aren’t justified by inability to consent?
I firmly believe that sexual assault is not shameful. I believe that a person’s clothing, sexual history, or alcohol consumption has nothing to do with their status as a rape victim. Rape happens to everyone, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, veteran status, or any other demographic you can imagine. Rape is not shameful.
Just because someone thinks they weren’t raped doesn’t meant they were not raped by definition, right? Does state law define rape or do your emotions?
I know that I will always be there when he wants to talk about it.
But do I tell him he was raped? According to state law, he was sexually assaulted. According to him, he was just too drunk to realize what was happening and say no. In my mind, that is rape. But in his mind, it’s just an unfortunate incident.
Do I tell him that he was raped or do I let him continue thinking it was just an unfortunate incident? Am I victimizing him or is society?
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