He’d been out with friends drinking that night. Having spent the last of his money on a strawberry daquiri he was left with two options, walk for an hour to get to his house or head to a friend’s house nearby and crash on a spare bed or couch. It was 3am and it was now cold, he was wearing shorts and a tight t-shirt when he knocked on his friend’s door. Patrick answered the door. He didn’t know Patrick as well as he knew the other guys in the house but he’d stayed there many times before so he let him in. Patrick said the others were all still out and showed him a bed he could sleep in.
He took off his shorts and crashed out in the bed. Later he awoke to find Patrick laying on top of him naked. He was drunk, but not drunk enough to protest. He said “No”, and “Stop” and tried to push him off. But Patrick wasn’t drunk and he was stronger than him. Patrick forcibly continued until he had finished with him.
After Patrick left he lay in the bed terrified and confused. He waited for an hour before creeping silently out of bed. He got dressed and walked home through the twilight of dawn. Parts of his body were sore from the assault and he wept silently as he walked.
The next day he confided in his friend John what had happened to him.
“What did you expect to happen?” John said, as if he was somehow to blame for Patrick raping him.
“I expected not to get raped by my friend,” he replied, confused as to why John thought that he was at fault.
He wrote a story about what had happened to him and posted it online and many of the responses questioned his choice of clothing. These were thoughts he had had himself, were his shorts too short? Too tight? Could it be that short shorts caused Patrick to rape him?
Other comments related to his inebriation.
“Why would u turn up to someone house half naked and drunk asking for trouble.”
“He should have arranged before going out where he was going to stay. U shouldn’t arrive at anyone’s home drunk and late.”
“If a person is so intoxicated we leave ourselves as prey. The world is not all butterflies and rainbow.”
“By turning up in short shorts, drunk, expecting to stay, you created a situation which enabled it to happen.”
He decided not to report the rape. He knew that if it even made it to court he would be questioned about his sexual history, his clothing and his drunkenness. The thought of having to publicly justify all the choices he had ever made about his sex life or about his clothing or decision to drink just felt too invasive. It was easier to forget the whole thing and pretend it never happened.
Every so often he would wonder about Patrick, had he raped other men since? He tried not to let that thought make him feel like a coward. Patrick’s behaviour was his responsibility and no one else’s. And a world designed to protect rapists and to blame and shame victims? Well that wasn’t his fault either.
This is the true life story of what happened to me. I changed the gender of the protagonist in an effort to convey the absurdity and sexism of the comments my piece on rape received. I also changed the word ‘skirt’ into ‘shorts’ in one of the comments above. You can read those comments here.
The ONLY person with even a shred of responsibility for rape is the rapist. Regardless of what someone is wearing, who their victim has had sex with in the past or how much sex they have had, or the sobriety of the victim — ALL responsibility for choosing to rape someone lays with the rapist. To suggest that the victim should have altered their behaviour in any way, however slight is to victim blame. Victim blaming leads to people not reporting which leads to more rapists free on the streets to rape again.
If you think that a rape victim placed themselves in a dangerous situation by their choices then you are part of why there are so many rapists in this world. How about focusing your attention and judgement on the rapist instead?