I hopped in my car to drive to the mixer. I lived far enough away from the frat to justify not pre-gaming just to be able to drive, especially since I was wearing heels. I walked into the frat, and a standard party occurred. Games of pong were played, many filled with wine instead of beer. Popular songs were played and everyone danced the night away.
As I left several hours later, I realized that I made a mistake. The heels that seemed reasonable enough earlier in the evening were now hurting enough to make me limp. After walking fifty feet, I tried taking off the shoes, only to cut my feet on the gravel. I saw a nearby fraternity’s flashing lights and bumping music, and remembered my friend Derek*, who often sober monitored there.
I called him, and he said that I could chill in his room with some of my friends until the end of the party, where he would drive us home. My girlfriends and I went up together, and we shared a couple of bottles of wine while waiting for the party to end and Derek's sobering shift to end.
Again, I had made a mistake. I lost count of how many cups I drank, and I was soon falling asleep in Derek’s bed. During this time, Derek came upstairs and told us he could drive us back now. I insisted on staying, saying I wanted to sleep there, repeating that it was fine. I fell asleep, and the next thing I remember is Derek in bed with me, his arms around me and his lips on my neck.
I had made a mistake.
The next morning, I woke up. Utterly confused and lost as to how one of my friends could have sex with me when I was so drunk. I didn’t understand how this could have happened. I did everything right that night. I didn’t drive. I didn’t try to walk home by myself. I stayed with a friend-- someone I had trusted.
For awhile, I didn’t know what to call it. Drunken sex? He took advantage of me? Sexual assault? Rape…? But how could it have been rape if there were no bruises? He didn’t threaten me, hold a knife to my throat? I didn’t black out, I remembered the event. He wasn’t a stranger, he was a friend.
I remember thinking that I wouldn’t have let this happen if I was sober. I remember trying to say no, barely even able to move my arms to push him off. I never said yes, and I couldn’t say no.
Only after many weeks of laughing it off, insisting that it wasn’t a big deal, that I realized what had happened. He had sex with me and I never gave my consent. That is rape’s purest and simplest definition. I didn’t want to call it rape, because I didn’t want to be labeled as a victim. I didn’t want to say I was raped because I didn’t want to become a statistic. I didn’t want to say I was raped because I was afraid someone would tell me I wasn’t because there was no violence.
Why is the word rape automatically synonymous with violence? Why does the word not include ambiguous and confusing situations, which normally involve alcohol? This is something I fear a large number of people, not just women, have to deal with.
It doesn’t matter the circumstance; sex without consent is rape.
*Derek’s name has been changed to preserve his anonymity.