Friday, September 12, 2014

Yes, You Were Raped

Written by: Lauren von Bernuth

I was browsing online the other day and stumbled upon a teenage girl asking for help. She said she and her female friend had gone to a male friend’s house and drank with him and another guy friend. They were all friends, so she felt safe. She had a boyfriend at the time but he wasn’t at the house. She drank too much so she passed out/slept there. She woke up to her “friend” having sex with her. Ever since that day she has been feeling extremely guilty, shameful, afraid to leave her house, and afraid to tell her boyfriend for fear that he would say she cheated on him and he’d think she’s a slut. She was posting her story online because she felt so awful and needed help. I read the responses and couldn’t believe what I was reading. They pissed me off. Every single response (and there were probably 10 or so responses) said something along the lines of, “You made a mistake, it’s ok.” “Now you know not to get that drunk again.” “Mistakes happen, forgive yourself.” “It’s a lesson learned.”

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
This girl was blatantly raped by a boy who we can now call a rapist. She was asleep! Yes, it’s sad and awful to think that our young innocent teenagers can actually be rapists who rape people but they do, it happens; and it’s one of the many reasons why everyone should talk to their kids about sex. There is no possible way this girl could have consented. She was unconscious. She has now had her entire sense of her personal being, her sense of trust and safety completely violated. Maybe she didn’t fight him off and yell stop or “Help, I’m being raped!” Maybe she has no bruises or scratches or torn clothes. But in reality that nice neat tidy rape scenario where we can see physical evidence like bruises and cuts doesn’t happen very often. It can, but rape can also be a lot quieter than that. Why? Because when someone is actually raping you it can be extremely confusing and shocking. If you’ve never been traumatized before then the idea that someone is violating you in that way is extremely hard to comprehend, because until now the world you lived in was controllable and people like you didn’t get raped. It can be terrifying.

In that moment your brain is being overwhelmed. You’re trying to process what is happening to you. Suddenly this person that you saw as nice and normal and had some level of trust in is suddenly violently attacking you (All rape is violent, because it involves someone completely overpowering someone, controlling them, using them, and completely disregarding their humanity). So there you are, being raped by someone you now realize you don’t know at all and you’re terrified. Fear may not be the dominating feeling running through your body because you are in a state of pure shock. However, your body and mind is terrified because it is confused. What you had understood about the world for your entire life is suddenly turned upside down and now anything can happen to you. All the social norms and expectations of society you operated on have been thrown out the window. In that moment you are terrified because anything could happen and your brain is overwhelmed. So your body goes into survival mode. Your body can react in different ways in survival mode, flight or fight being the most commonly understood response. However, freezing is just as common, if not more common than fight or flight. Most rapes are extremely surprising. You can’t see them coming so you don’t have time to really process and implement a fight or flight response. Instead your body freezes because it’s the safest way to just get through the experience. If he or she is already raping you than your body sort of instinctively knows just freezing and surviving the experience is probably the safest response. If you try and fight back or run away, there’s a good chance the rapist will use physical force and thus you risk even more injury and in the worst of cases, death.

So back to this young girl. She couldn’t have possibly consented. If she was awake but under the influence of drugs or alcohol she is in no legally sound mind to consent. She is being taken advantage of because drugs and alcohol lower your normal levels of resistance and inhibition. Even if the perpetrator is drunk it’s still rape. Alcohol doesn’t turn someone into a rapist. Alcohol doesn’t turn someone into a murderer, thief, batterer, or adulterer. It may increase the likelihood the perpetrator will act out in that manner, but the person is still the bearer of their actions. They still commit the crime. If the girl was laying their naked when she fell asleep or if the boy and girl had sex with each other before, it’s still rape.

There is nothing that ever entitles someone to someone else’s body. Your body and soul are your most sacred possesions and nobody else can ever have a right to it. The idea that someone else has a right to your personal being without your consent, is pretty much the same concept as slavery; the idea that someone else can actually possess you against your will. The beauty of sex and love is that it’s two people choosing to give to each other. Sex doesn’t always happen in that lovey-dovey scenario, but it is or should always be an exercise of free will. Problems happen the moment it starts involving coercion, force, fear, feelings of obligation, attempts to placate, or anything other than that act of free will. A woman or man can walk naked through the streets at 2 am completely drunk out of his or her mind and still no one has a right to their body. They may become an easier target for a rapist, but they will only be raped if they cross the paths with a rapist. Normal healthy people don’t seize opportunity and just start raping people. Rapists do that. Rape is always and only caused by the perpetrator forcing someone into a sexual act against their will. So it doesn’t matter what someone’s wearing, if they were intoxicated, if they said yes then changed their mind, if she’s a sex worker or anything else. NOBODY is ever entitled to your body. Rape is rape when a perpetrator forces a sexual act on someone who has not or is not able to give consent. That’s it.

It’s rape if she was too drunk or high to consent.

It’s rape if she didn’t get a chance to say no.

It’s rape if she was in a bikini or a burka.

It’s rape if the rapist was drunk or high.

It’s rape if she’s your wife or girlfriend.

It’s rape if she went home with him.

It’s rape if she froze.

It’s rape if she was pressured, manipulated or coerced.

It’s rape if she was a minor but looked or acted older.

It’s rape if she worked in the sex industry.

It’s rape if she spent the night at his place.

It’s rape if he was a friend/acquaintance.

It’s rape if she was unconscious.

It’s rape if she is a he.

Written by: Lauren von Bernuth
Country: United States
Twitter: @FacetoFaceLA

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