Have I Been Raped, or Not?

This article will be the first in a series. Sexual assault is an intricate subject that deserves discussion at each level, not have information lost to the restrictions of individual submissions.

She put on her sexiest outfit, got all dolled up and took an Uber to her favorite nightclub. Music, dancing, lights, drinks, and friends. What a perfect night. She ran into an old boyfriend who offered to buy her drinks. It was nice to see him again, so when he offered to drive her home, she accepted. She was a little tipsy butshe wouldn’t have to pay for an Uber. Instead of taking her home, though, he stopped at his place. He said he had some coffee and wanted to sober her up before taking her home. While sipping her coffee on the couch, the advances began. She welcomed them, at first, but he kept going farther and farther, and she wasn’t ready for that level of involvement. She kept saying “No”, but he didn’t listen to her. She was still a little drunk, he was strong, and he forced himself on her. She never told anyone. It couldn’t have been rape, she thought, since she knew him;she went home with him willingly; and she was wearing provocative clothing. She had also reached orgasm, so she figured she had wanted it and had brought it all on herself.  Who would believe her, anyway, nice man that he was? She felt ashamed; she wasworried about her health and pregnancy; her trust in him, and men in general, was shattered;and she kept it all inside.

The things she mentioned can be contributing factors in a sexual assault, but she was wrong on one major detail: She was raped. None of those other details matter: not the clothes; not the alcohol; not the fact that she knew him; not because she went home with him; and not even because she reached orgasm, which was very confusing to her. She said “NO”, and “NO means “NO”, every time.

Sexual assaults occur worldwide, and more so in developed, more prosperous nations. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 35% of women globally have experienced some type of sexual assault. Statistical resultsby country are probably not accurate because not all rapes are reported in the same way in each country; some countries have lax laws; some don’t keep statistics at all; and some only report rapes perpetrated by men on women, which is not always true. Statistics arenotimportant, anyway; it’s the acts themselves that need to be considered.

A sexual assault has occurred when one person bestows unwanted behavior or sexual contact on another without explicit permission. “No”, or a variation of it, is the only word that needs remembering, even it is uttered during previously consensual activity. It’s understandable that some men may not want to stop in the heat of passion before completion, but, whether they like it or not, if they continue after she (or he) says any variation of that word “no”, and there has been penetration of any kind, it is considered rape in a court of law. The FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” Outside of this, there are various levels of assault, ranging from inappropriate behavior or touching all the way up to rape, with different levels of punishment for each. The fact is that the level of assault makes no difference. “NO” means “NO”. Period.


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