My friend and I had a llllloooooonnnnnnggggg phone conversation a few weeks ago. she told me that she had been sexually assaulted by her friend several months ago when she passed by his place to check on him. She didn’t use those words—“sexually assaulted”.
she said she had been taken advantage of.
she said it felt minor because it didn’t escalate.
she said she felt guilty for visiting him.
she 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 led to believe they are not victims of rape because they were drunk, wearing a short skirt, or flirting. I hate that. And yet for some reason i am tongue tied on this matter.
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. So why cant i get myself to talk about it. Why cant i seem to have the courage to voice what i really feel about this situation?
Here’s my dilemma: if i called it “sexual assault” when she didn’t, am I victimizing her or helping her overcome the obstacles that society puts out?
If I tell her she was sexually assaulted, am I making her a victim in a situation where she may not feel entirely like a victim? Or would saying she was sexually assaulted help her realize that there is no minor kind of assault and non-consensual 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, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, veteran status, or any other demographic you can imagine..
Just because someone thinks they weren’t raped doesn’t meant they were not raped by definition, right? Does the law define rape or do your emotions?
I know that she needs time to process and healing is a journey she needs to walk on her terms , but i also know that I will always be there when she wants to talk about it.
But do I tell her she was raped? According to the law, she was sexually assaulted. According to her, he was just too drunk to realize what was happening and even though she said no and fought back, she couldn’t deter him from doing what he wanted to do. In my mind, that is rape. But in her mind, it’s just an unfortunate incident.
It is very possible that in her mind because of the trauma , she has chosen to believe this did not happen. she has chosen not to brand herself victim because to her, that is shameful. what do i tell her? that she was raped, or do I let her continue thinking it was just an unfortunate incident? Am I victimizing her or is society?