Confused about potentially nonconsensual sex, how to deal?
January 2, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Someone had sex with me even though I said "no" multiple times, but I was drunk and my memories of the event are completely foggy, especially the moment of penetration. This happened several months ago and I have been completely ignoring it, but in the past few days told my partner and now feel completely confused. What do I call this? Is this rape or a confused moment that turned nonconsensual by accident? Especially confused about how to interact and think about the other person involved.

I am a 25 year old female with in an open relationship with a man. I have never been sexually assualted before. This situation occured in a large walk in closet and myself and the other person involved were both pretty drunk.

At a party a few months ago, I went off to a dark corner with a good friend of mine to make out. We'd done this kind of thing a few times before and it was always fun and not problematic. This time he really wanted to have intercourse, but I did not and told him so, multiple times (no condom, STDs, not into casual intercourse, etc). He "played" at physically forcing me to have sex with him and at first I was laughing and the feeling was very jokey, but then it started to feel too real and I got upset and told him to stop in a firm tone. He stopped and apologized.

However, he continued talking about sex and explaining why he probably didn't have STDs. We were sort of touching and making out sporadically during this part but not intensely. This is where I lose track of things: suddenly he was inside of me. I do not remember how it happened. It was not violent but I know I never gave him a "Yes". I did not tell him to stop once he was already having sex with me because it seemed kind of pointless. I did not respond to him having sex with me enthusiastically, but I don't know if I just laid there entirely passively either. I can't really remember. I remember him finishing on the floor, getting dressed and walking out and saying something along the lines of "Well! Finally had sex with [my name]" to me, sort of in triumph.

I feel unhappy with what happened but its not interrupting my life. I don't know if this is a question that makes sense to ask, but I just want to know what happened. What is this called? How can I think about it if I can't remember vital details that would distinguish drunken mishaps from rape? I want to talk to people about it more but I am so afraid of making a big deal. I'm afraid my memories aren't accurate and I could really mess with the other person's life.

I read a lot of things about consent and rape, I would call myself a feminist. So I'm familiar with the idea that a lot of what I'm saying falls really neatly into rape culture conditioning. But I also really cannot remember, and so much of this seems ambiguous. There are grey areas, this may be one - so how do I deal with it?

Throwaway email :
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (57 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What is this called?

Acquaintance rape. This person is absolutely not a "good friend," and, moreover, a shit of a human being and you should act accordingly.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2013 [80 favorites]

It depends on the law in your area, but in terms of normal human interaction: There is no grey. If at any time sexual relations between two people becomes non-consensual, for any reason, the game is over and if one player continues, it is rape. That is a not hard rule to understand or follow.

I'd talk to your local police and go from there.
posted by three blind mice at 7:21 AM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

Be kind to yourself. Go slow. Call a hotline near you. (There's also a national hotline at 800-656-HOPE). You don't have to put a label on what happened to you in order to talk to someone who can help.

You're not alone.

And, while it is definitely not your fault and I don't want to suggest that you should have done anything, maybe steer clear of your "friend" in the future, especially if one of you has been drinking. That person is not your friend.
posted by gauche at 7:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [26 favorites]

Memail me, or contact me through the mods -- I have something written up I'd like to share with you.
posted by endless_forms at 7:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is rape. You told him in no uncertain terms that you would not be wanting sex with him. You made that clear. Call the cops.
posted by DetriusXii at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

endless_forms, the OP has a throwaway email you can use.
posted by gauche at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2013

I do not remember how it happened. It was not violent but I know I never gave him a "Yes".

Not only did you not give him a Yes, you repeatedly gave him No. This is sex you did not consent to and we call that rape. You may find this NYT article enlightening, because the definition of what constitutes rape has changed significantly: "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." Force is not required; it's the absence of consent that is required.

I'm really sorry this happened to you but I think giving it its proper name will actually help you to understand what happened and decide what you want to do next.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh boy, I'm a feminist too, and this sounds tricky (and I recognize I'll probably get a lot of flack for saying that). And before I say anything else, let me say this as loudly and clearly as I can: THIS GUY SOUNDS LIKE A DOUCHEBAG because 1) being blackout drunk is no situation to give consent for sex, and 2) he obviously saw the situation as some stupid conquest. WHAT A DICK!

But. Even though you were not wanting sex initially, you say you don't remember the point when you actually started having sex. It is possible you were drunkingly going along with it (which is why drunk sex is not the same frame of mind as consensual sex) until you realized something like oh shit, I don't want to have sex, wtf is going on?! But I wouldn't call that the same as rape. And yes, I know I'll get some flack for that. But you also said yourself that you didn't feel it was a sexual assault--and it's important to trust your gut feelings-- until after talking to your it possible you feel guilted and want to see it more in the light of you not consenting at all?

I would chalk it up to a bad situation with too much to drink and ditch that guy who you thought was a friend before (he's obviously an ASS).
posted by Eicats at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [19 favorites]

p.s. If I've totally misread your feelings on this, I apologize. And I don't want to give the implication that it's not rape JUST because you were both drinking or that you were at fault in any way: I'm just going on your memory of the moment and feelings afterward...
posted by Eicats at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh anon, I am so sorry this happened to you. This friend raped you. This is why sex with someone under the influence is considered non-consensual. Do call a hotline or get counseling. Do consider cutting this person out of your life because clearly, he doesn't have your best interests at heart; in fact, he brags about it.

And if you can at all stand it, do call him out on this if/when you ever feel ready: he needs to know exactly how not okay what he did was because he may be still patting himself on the back.
posted by smirkette at 7:28 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I'm a feminist too.

You have the full force of the law at your disposal. There may be a lot of victim blaming (that you yourself may be seen to be doing, given that your conviction about the incident and your consent is not firm). If you go the legal route be sure that you are convicted and firm about what happened and make sure that you have solid legal representation that will not waffle or doubt.

It sounds like this good friend is important to you and that your open relationship will not protect you by claiming you as territory (and if I were you I wouldn't really be thrilled about that intersection of territory and my personhood either from a feminist perspective).

But it also sounds like you need to figure out what part of your friendship is important to you and if it's worth losing the leverage you have from acquaintance rape to try to talk it out with your friend and figure out whether you have anything to preserve with him. If you do go the route of trying to preserve friendship, note that you'll likely have very little to no legal recourse and there are also a LOT of safety issues at hand including the risk that if you try to talk it out with your friend there is further risk of sexual or non-sexual assault, so don't assume he thinks of himself as or will act like your friend any more.

And yes, please get an STD test and please be careful and please strongly consider that you are now legally at odds with your friend and be as safe as you possibly can be about it, even if you don't get the authorities in motion about it.
posted by kalessin at 7:31 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Eicats - absolutely not. She said "no", he heard "no", and he did it anyway. Not being able to remember the moment it started doesn't change that. Not putting up much resistance because you're drunk is NEVER EVER EVER the same as saying "yes".
posted by fearnothing at 7:32 AM on January 2, 2013 [45 favorites]

[Folks, please keep this conversation towards answering the OPs questions and not arguing with each other. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:34 AM on January 2, 2013

I would suggest you call a rape crisis line because they will have heard a lot of stories like yours and they will know exactly how to make sense of it.

I would suggest that you not talk to this person at all until you have talked to some trained professionals.

I don't think you need to feel any obligation to be devastated by this, you're not acting a role in a TV drama. You're allowed to feel any way you actually feel. But, that doesn't change the fact that this is a cut-and-dried case of acquaintance rape.

I think you might have to take on faith here that this guy is not your friend and has committed an actual crime against you.

Also - I notice that it's you here asking us how to deal with this situation, and how to handle it socially and legally. He's not on here in a panic, asking us if he's "accidentally" committed a punishable crime. It's all coming down on you. What is he doing to categorize this or address it or even handle it as the socially awkward situation it is? It's a whole lot more than a socially awkward situation, up to including a crime, but it sure isn't less than a socially awkward situation is it? And even at that level, it becomes your problem! Without suggesting that you ignore your own thoughts and feelings about this, I think you could feel free to give back the problem to the person who caused it.

Having said that, as much as I don't like it, I think you have to take advice as to how to handle this socially so that you don't gum up a legal case if you end up wanting to make one. Which I realize is probably what you don't want to do right now, I'm not trying to tell you you have to or anything, but I think it would be good to assess your legal position and view your former friendship through that lens at least until you make a decision.
posted by tel3path at 7:35 AM on January 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

I don't have anything to add to what griphus and gauche said, but I want to repeat both of their comments to add weight.

This person is absolutely not a "good friend," and, moreover, a shit of a human being and you should act accordingly.

Be kind to yourself. Go slow. Call a hotline near you. (There's also a national hotline at 800-656-HOPE). You don't have to put a label on what happened to you in order to talk to someone who can help.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:39 AM on January 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


There is no reason not to contact the authorities. However, please bear in mind that what matters to the police and local prosecutor is what they can prove. Unfortunately, you "can't remember vital details" of the incident. That is going to be a problem for the authorities who will want to help you but will also want to know what the answer is to, "how do you know you didn't say yes?" " I do not remember how it happened" and "I can't really remember" are very damaging to any case you might have.

Of course, what can be proven does not mean that something bad did not happen. I would join in the other suggestions that you speak with the relevant crisis hotline, which I am sure has encountered situations such as this one.

What is most sad is that your question is, "I just want to know what happened" Since you have no memory of some of the encounter, you unfortunately will never know.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:48 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Here's something to consider as you're working through how to think about him. Look at what happened from his perspective: "I really wanted to have sex with X. She didn't want to have sex with me. She told me so and got upset when I started pushing for it physically. She told me many reasons why she didn't want to. I told her some stuff that might (but didn't) persuade her to reconsider one of her reasons. I couldn't (and didn't) address her other reasons, though. [time passes]. I achieved my goal of having sex with her."

If he had told you that story, with X as any other woman, how would you feel about him?
posted by argonauta at 7:49 AM on January 2, 2013 [15 favorites]

What is this called? How can I think about it if I can't remember vital details that would distinguish drunken mishaps from rape? I want to talk to people about it more but I am so afraid of making a big deal. I'm afraid my memories aren't accurate and I could really mess with the other person's life.

This is a very complex situation with potentially huge ramifications for your life. I would really suggest calling a rape survivor hotline near you, or arranging to see a therapist of your choosing. As should be clear from the comments here, many folks would unambiguously call this rape, but that may not make the most sense to you, and you aren't any less of a feminist if you choose to understand it differently than that. You are allowed to take your relationship with this guy into account in whatever way you wish, although you certainly do not need to constrain your reaction in order to protect him in any way.

What I'm trying to say is that what happened to you is an intensely personal and intimate thing. It is not something that belongs to a particular political category, and unless those categories help you to make sense of this, you should feel free to ignore them in the pursuit of your own understanding. I do think that talking with someone whose job is to talk with people about things like this would probably help you.
posted by OmieWise at 7:49 AM on January 2, 2013 [50 favorites]

About 8 years ago, I went through a very similar experience (an acquantaince who I had previously flirted with forced himself on me when we were both wasted even though I said no).

It took months before I was able to fully process it -- I think I felt incredibly guilty that I had put myself in that situation and was taking on the blame, but I still felt so angry, hurt, and violated by him.

It wasn't until I called the event rape and began talking to someone that I fully grasped the reality of what had happened and how damaged I was from it. If you're not damaged from it, that's awesome, and if you never decided to label it rape, that's okay, too. This is not about taking agency away from you by making you call what happened to you rape, but just about helping you come to terms with it. I would call a help-line. I would also check out what local resources are available to you.

Just food for thought: there's nothing really that gray about what happened, and your friend did not take how much this would mess with your life into account before acting. You have no responsibility to this toolbox any more, so if that's what's keeping you from seeking formal channels please don't. There's also nothing that says if you decide that it's rape that you have to report -- everything from here on is your choice.

I know you're going through a difficult time, and I'm thinking about you. Feel free to memail me with any questions or if you need someone to listen.
posted by superlibby at 7:56 AM on January 2, 2013 [10 favorites]

What is this called?

This is called rape. Plain and simple. Any situation without clear consent is rape. You went beyond that. You said "no" several times. Even by the standards of rape culture conditioning, which might equivocate in many scenarios, this is clear cut. The most generous term I would use would be sexual assault. You consented to making out with him. You clearly did not consent to intercourse. It is 100% HIS JOB to respect your boundaries. There is no excuse.

It's understandable that you've had a hard time thinking of what happened as rape. But that's an excuse. It's a cover for people who don't think they required to respect the physical security of others. It's a way to blame victims. It's also a way to keep them silent, which allows it to keep happening.

So in the end, there is no grey area about what he did. He forced himself on you. This is rape.

As for what you do next, it's entirely up to you. It sounds like you want to talk about it. Either for your own healing or to hold him accountable for his actions. Both are good motivations. But you, unfortunately, need to be careful if your goal is the latter. Just talking about it amongst mutual friends creates gossip, and gives him a chance to play the victim of "false accusations" because its your word against his. This is likely to alienate people or create tension. I say this not in the interest of saving him grief, but saving you grief and allowing you to move forward.

I encourage you, as others have said, to call a rape crisis hotline and talk to a therapist. Work with these resources to decide what your goals are and what is the best way to achieve your goals before you talk to anyone else, including the police, the perpetrator, or friends (mutual or otherwise). Always remember that the priority is your own wholeness. I'm very sorry this happened to you. Please MeMail me if you would like to talk further at all.
posted by dry white toast at 8:00 AM on January 2, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'd say you were raped. I'm sorry; that doesn't really make the next set of thoughts, feelings and actions any easier.
posted by ead at 8:09 AM on January 2, 2013

How can I think about it if I can't remember vital details that would distinguish drunken mishaps from rape? I want to talk to people about it more but I am so afraid of making a big deal. I'm afraid my memories aren't accurate and I could really mess with the other person's life.

If you were drunk enough that you can't remember what happened, then what he did is generally considered rape, whether you remember the details or not.
posted by empath at 8:10 AM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you don't feel comfortable calling a hotline, you could use RAINN's Online Hotline. It's an online chat-based hotline, where you can communicate with a counselor one-on-one through typing/online-chat, under complete anonymity. You will not need to give your name or any other personal information.
posted by aielen at 8:10 AM on January 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

Now that I've calmed down from my outburst, a more comprehensive answer:

I don't know if this is a question that makes sense to ask, but I just want to know what happened. What is this called?
Rape. It happened to be by an acquaintance, but sometimes the extra word can lead people to treat it as less serious.

How can I think about it if I can't remember vital details that would distinguish drunken mishaps from rape?
You said no and he heard it. Shortly after this you've told us you're quite certain that you did not at any point say yes. These are the important facts for it being rape.

I want to talk to people about it more but I am so afraid of making a big deal. I'm afraid my memories aren't accurate and I could really mess with the other person's life.
The hotline is the right place to start with this. Be aware that there are many misconceptions about consent and that friends and family might be carrying some of these around with them. Starting off with the hotline will give you the confidence to understand when this is the case and to not doubt your memory.

I read a lot of things about consent and rape, I would call myself a feminist. So I'm familiar with the idea that a lot of what I'm saying falls really neatly into rape culture conditioning. But I also really cannot remember, and so much of this seems ambiguous. There are grey areas, this may be one - so how do I deal with it?
As I see it, you can do the following:
  • Press charges. Your description is unequivocally of a crime; you have grounds to do this. The only question is whether the information you can provide is sufficient to convict. I will not hide it from you, this will be a VERY difficult route. Many people will doubt you, some will even blame you, it is a crime with a notoriously low conviction rate. You should talk first to a hotline and then to the police.
  • Not press charges. Only you can say whether this is the better option for you. You've said you do not feel the event has had a detrimental effect on your life. I'd suggest talking to a professional to be sure of this, but you could well be right. This is certainly easier, but I can tell you with a large degree of confidence that the incident is unlikely to be something that stands on its own. People who do this think it's OK to do again, and they will if they can - perhaps not to you, but it's highly probable that he has done it before and will do it again. Please take this into account when you decide what to do.

posted by fearnothing at 8:10 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

The other person involved is not your friend, and is a rapist. This is probably not the first time he's raped a "friend" of his. I'm sorry this happened to you.

Going forward: you should get an STD test if you haven't already, as well as a pregnancy test. You are under no obligation to report this if you don't want to, or you feel like it would hurt you. Therapy helps but isn't a requirement. Personally I would maybe journal it out with your "committee of five" (your five perfect imaginary allies/mentors/friends) and see what feels like the safest, healthiest solution for you.

I would say, though, that if you want to talk to your friends about it, you should. if you feel like that is safe for you. Rapists thrive under silence.
posted by spunweb at 8:13 AM on January 2, 2013 [9 favorites]

Date rape, for sure. Contact a rape crisis center.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:20 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am so sorry this douchebag did this. Because that is what he is: a douchebag, and a rapist. Drunkeness may be his excuse, but it doesn't clear him, any more than it would get him off the hook for getting behind the wheel while drunk and running someone over. He is responsible for his actions, drunk or sober. He took advantage of your intoxication to use your body against your will. That is not the action of a friend, or a decent human being.

I would second talking to knowledgeable folks through a hotline who will know exactly what you're talking about and how to help you proceed emotionally and/or logistically and legally. Your exact situation is something they have seen a lot; they aren't going to think what happened to you doesn't qualify as "real" rape.

Never be alone with this person again, no matter what you decide to do otherwise. As far as telling others, that is entirely up to you. He *deserves* to have his name tied to his actions among your circle of friends, but your mental health/well-being is the most important thing here and only you can say what you're comfortable doing.
posted by emjaybee at 8:23 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Many years ago I got drunk with a female friend. I'm not sure what was so different about this night from others, but I started groping at her many times (starting with the old 'would you like a back massage?' question). She pushed me away and wanted me to stop grabbing at her, but I didn't. I didn't rape her, thank god. If you can believe me it honestly didn't occur to me to do anything except grab her. After I quit groping her I knew she was upset, but I didn't know how upset until a day later.

There was no waffling: for her what I did was 100% sexual assault. I was seriously disturbed at myself for what I had done to her and tried to get her forgiveness, but she wasn't interested in that. I asked her what it would take to show her I was sorry and she said to turn myself in. Because I truly hated myself for what I did I took her up on that, and spoke to the police and told them what happened. I was charged with sexual assault but pleaded down to a lesser charge that didn't put me on the sexual offender registry. I never spoke to her again.

My point is, I groped a friend and I was ready to ruin my life because of how shitty I felt about it. What has your friend done to show you he's sorry for what amounts to a much worse violation? Cut him out of your life at a minimum. If you want to, press charges. In my opinion he deserves it.
posted by Green With You at 8:24 AM on January 2, 2013 [35 favorites]

While I would consider what he did to you to be rape, what I/we think doesn't matter as much as what you think.

You sound like you are not sure yet what you think, so the best advice I can imagine is as above, to talk with someone at a rape crisis center or hotline who is trained to help people talk about things like this and process them. What you decide to do next is up to you and you do not need to decide immediately. I'm so sorry you are going through this.

In the meantime, write down details and decide, unequivocally, that at minimum he is not a friend and not someone you can trust.

As a sidenote, I would make a prediction that you are not the only woman he has ever done this to and you probably won't be the last. That could steer you toward reporting him or confronting him, but at the end of the day your only responsibility is to do what you need to to keep yourself safe.

Good luck :(
posted by mazienh at 8:33 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's rape.

I know what it's like to have a problem labelling an incident for what it is, in my case it took me decades, but it is what it is. I'm so sorry.

That individual is not your friend. As others mentioned, go slow, and yes, rape crisis center. Don't wait as long as I did to deal because this stuff has ramifications, whether or not you are aware of them.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:50 AM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

There is only one thing possibly worse then rape: The legal aftermath of rape.

The legal and criminal process is NOT inherently your friend. It involves the cold, bleak, un-comforting factors of credibility, testimony, lawyers and DAs, and, beyond a reasonable doubt. No one can decide this route except your personal ability to withstand this difficult journey. Keep this in mind when/if you speak with a rape crisis center.

There are other ways to successfully deal with the aftermath of rape that instead offer the private, understanding and comfortable surroundings of a skilled therapist. There are no courtrooms, publicity, gossip -and can still offer help and resolution, many times to a much better conclusion for yourself. Good luck.
posted by Kruger5 at 8:53 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

Going to a rape crisis center is not equivalent to going directly to prosecution. They will know how much of a legal case you would have if you wanted to go that route.
posted by tel3path at 8:59 AM on January 2, 2013 [7 favorites]

Sometimes giving a name to something is hard, because it means we have to confront it for what it really is.

This was rape. I am so sorry this happened to you. It's not your fault.
posted by sockermom at 9:16 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I want to talk to people about it more but I am so afraid of making a big deal. I'm afraid my memories aren't accurate and I could really mess with the other person's life.

I had a "friend" who systematically did exactly what your "friend" did to no less than five of my other female buddies before we started talking. If you want to talk about it, please, talk about it. Because arseholes who use this tactic once to good effect will use it again, and he messed up his life the minute he had sex with you after you repeatedly told him no.

You may well be preventing him from messing up who knows how many other women's lives.

From here on in, he has no one to blame but himself if the revelation of what he did to you gets around. Not you.

You won't be making drama. He did. You're not ruining his life, he decided that moment of sex was worth the risk. Nothing you do from here on in, done honestly and spoken honestly, is your fault. He's committed a crime - and I would emphatically call this rape, especially if you said no repeadedly and he went ahead with sex after that anyway - and he deserves to deal with the consequences.
posted by Jilder at 9:20 AM on January 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

You don't know what happened during the time that you blacked out.

It's possible you did or said something that gave your friend the "all clear" signal, since you were still fooling around, talking and flirting the last you remember.

It's also possible you completely passed out, and your friend entered you while you were unconscious and unable to consent or protest.

Blacked out? or passed out? Since it is possible that you blacked out but were still conscious and talking while fooling around... Maybe your friend is a total creep, especially for what he said after having sex with you, but maybe he is not a rapist?

I'm worried the emphatic "It's Rape!" crowd in this thread is unhelpful for you right now, yet for the record, I'm certainly not on your "friend's" side, either.

I think you should call the hotline, get a therapist, and work through this with professionals.

One more thing.

That comment this guy made, and the way he left you in the closet, that was pretty cold, right? Was this in character for him? Or was it a side of him you've never seen before??

Answering those three questions might help you unpack this more. Were I you, I'd be so very confused between (a) questions and doubts about what happen during the time I blacked or passed out vs. (b) the fact that I had sex with someone I thought was a good person and instead he turned into a smug prick right after the act.

I don't know if your "friend" used you or raped you, but a professional can likely help you with that. I do think that alcohol exaggerates people's inherent nature, and this guy sounds like a selfish asshole, at the very least. I'm sorry you went through this experience.

Make those calls. Work this through with the right people, not here on the internet. Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:48 AM on January 2, 2013 [12 favorites]

I'm afraid my memories aren't accurate and I could really mess with the other person's life.

How real of a concern is this for you? Are you thinking you might have totally changed your mind and told him you wanted to have sex is the interval you don't remember clearly? That sounds pretty unlikely to me; I don't think there is any way to look at his actions as in any way excusable.
posted by spaltavian at 9:51 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've rewritten this response three times. I've experienced something very similar to what you've experienced.

But don't listen to anyone including people here who say "THIS IS WHAT YOU MUST DO...."

You need to follow the course of action that is best for you. Remember you are not the guilty party here, so what works best for you is what you need to do.

For me I had those doubts about myself, as you are having now, and it took me a few weeks to digest what had happened. On advice for a friend "If you feel 'icky' about it then it's icky! It's OK to feel icky about icky things." It may sound childish but it helped me.

So I cut off contact with this guy. We'd been friends since we were 12, we studied undergrad together. He never asked me why I cut him out of my life, maybe he knows, but I actually think he's misunderstood the situation. I think I lost some friends over it. But if I did I don't care, they weren't there. But I still feel 'icky' about him. I don't need that in my life.

(And just today I was thinking "Maybe there was just communication problem + alcohol that night." Then I remember the icky.)
posted by jujulalia at 10:31 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I can't tell you what you should do about this except that you should take the time you need to sort through your feelings and make sure you're safe and comfortable with whatever you decide to do.

But I just wanted to say that, whatever you decide to call this, what this guy did wasn't right. I firmly think you need to re-frame this in your mind so that you place the responsibility for getting your consent to have sex on him.

I think the narrative that says that he had a right to do what he did because you didn't say no firmly enough needs to be turned on its head. He wanted sex and therefor it was his responsibility to get your consent not your responsibility to fend him off.

Even if you said something while blacked out to lead him to believe that you were ok with penetration it should have been obvious that you didn't want it to happen. His desire for sex shouldn't be weighed as more important than your desire not to have sex and in situations like this its the responsibility of the person who wants sex to control themselves rather than risk doing something horrible to another person.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 10:45 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something similar happened to me in college, and I remember feeling similarly confused afterwards. This was a long time ago now, and I'll share my story with you in case my perspective can be helpful:

I was hanging out at a party with a guy who was a friend of a friend, and the punch being served was *much* stronger than I realized. I don't remember much of the evening, but I do remember waking up on my back in my living room, with his face coming in and out of focus as he was fucking me. There was some ambiguity around the situation - I remember being somewhat interested in him at the beginning of the evening, and I get horny and flirty when I'm drunk, so I'm not sure what I may have told him/let on - but at the same time I never, ever would have agreed to have sex on the floor of the living room of the apartment I shared with 3 other roommates, all of whom were home that night. I don't remember much else. I'm not sure I ever told him no, but I'm fairly certain I was passed out before he started to have sex with me.

It was probably about a month later that I realized I'd been raped. I felt uncomfortable with the label - my experience certainly didn't match the brutal and violent image 'rape' conjured in my mind, and I wasn't certain about the level of consent I may have given. Ultimately, however, I realized that having sex with an unconscious person was a pretty shitty thing for the guy to have done, and I called it what it was: date rape.

Oddly, it never had much of an impact on me beyond teaching me to take greater care with alcohol. I went on to have fine and fulfilling sexual relationships, never had a problem saying no, and beyond being pretty pissed at the guy for being a complete asshole, never felt any distrust for men or any of the 'usual' rape trauma. I never think of it except when a story like this comes up, or when I hear some variant of the '1 of 4 women gets raped by someone they know' statistic and realize, holy shit, that's me.

Please understand that I in no way want to diminish anyone else's experience, including yours. But I wanted to offer my anecdata to show that it is possible to have an experience like this and move on from it fairly unscathed, just in case that's something you were also wondering about.
posted by widdershins at 10:47 AM on January 2, 2013 [13 favorites]

So many good answers here I was going to leave this alone. But I am a former sexual assault victim advocate and sexual assault prosecutor, so I feel compelled to add my two cents:

First, this is indeed rape. It isn't a grey area when you said no and he persisted. And what he said tells you loud and clear he was counting coup with your body, not under some sort of drunken misapprehension.

Second, how you feel about that and what you do about that is entirely your call. You can continue this "friendship" though I think griphus and others have accurately told you this person is not your friend, not safe, and not trustworthy. You can talk to a counselor or call the police -- or not. How you experience this is your call. Please know you have plenty of resources here on Metafilter, including me.

Third, be aware that being bothered by this is to be expected when your bodily autonomy and independence have been violated by someone you trusted. It is a very, very big deal and there is nothing wrong with calling it what it is.

Thinking of you.
posted by bearwife at 10:50 AM on January 2, 2013 [8 favorites]

Rape crisis centers will not take any legal steps. They are absolutely a safe place to get help, and seeking help there will not commit you to any particular course of action vis-a-vis your choices about reporting this or not.

I am so sorry this happened to you. You'll be in my thoughts.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:53 AM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

The legal and criminal process is NOT inherently your friend. It involves the cold, bleak, un-comforting factors of credibility, testimony, lawyers and DAs, and, beyond a reasonable doubt. No one can decide this route except your personal ability to withstand this difficult journey. Keep this in mind when/if you speak with a rape crisis center.

OP, just to be very clear, talking to a rape crisis center will NOT launch you on the path of a "legal and criminal process." The chief concerns of people who volunteer at a rape crisis center are YOU, supporting you, respecting you, and empowering you. Everyone there is trained in how to respond in a supportive way that empowers you. Nobody will force you into anything - obviously, to do that would run counter to the very purpose of a rape crisis center. People at a rape crisis center want nothing more than to be there for you - please do not be scared off by really transparent concern trolling.
posted by cairdeas at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2013 [20 favorites]

I absolutely and completely agree that contacting a rape crisis center should be your first deed. They'll help you figure out where you stand and how you can reach out from there, to whatever ends or purposes you choose. And they'll be the best people to help you make wise choices.
posted by kalessin at 11:59 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I disagree with many answers who says that this is clearly rape. I find it clearly "grey". I am of the firm opinion that employing the rule "there was a No = rape" is very far from being realistic. Things in this situation were complicated, there's not a simple answer.

In any case, this is about you. So do talk to people who are experts. But please do talk to someone realistic, too, and let them explain what they would have felt/done in this situation.

I am deliberately not going into detailed arguments, because of course one could argue those. It wouldn't help.
posted by oxit at 12:21 PM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's a misconception that rape always results in tremendous trauma for the victim -- and that if the victim is not in horrible physical and/or psychological shape, then it wasn't really rape. But the level of trauma you experience in reaction to this situation doesn't change the status of this incident from "rape" to "not rape". (I agree that your situation constitutes rape, by the way.)

You're aware of rape culture and etc, but you're still uncertain what happened to you. That might be because you have internalized the mythology of how rape victims are supposed to act and feel. You can't evaluate the "legitimacy" of an act of rape, based on the psychological reaction of the victim. Rape is still just as wrong in cases of mild trauma, as it is in cases of extreme trauma. But remember, this only happened to you a few months ago. You may not have processed the event long enough to determine how much it harmed you.

Don't ruminate over your perceived "gray areas". Rapists of all stripes have been exploiting and creating "gray areas", since the beginning of time. If they make friends with you/dated you before they raped you, that's a gray area. If you were making out with them before they raped you, that's a gray area. If they said nice things to you during the rape process, that's a gray area. If they make a big show of "playing" rape like your friend here did, and then oops-for-real-rape you, that's a gray area because "I thought we were just playing." There's always an escape hatch for people who rape, to jump down to excuse their behavior. There is always a gray area they can invoke to create doubt. You know you said no and that he kept pushing you. It doesn't matter how much gray is floating around that fact -- all the grayness in the world doesn't change that.

Grayness obfuscates, it does not erase.

If you don't think you can handle the legal process, then don't go through with it. It's very likely to produce epic amounts of pain for you, and not very likely to result in a conviction. If you want to pursue the legal option, though, it is a completely legitimate and appropriate thing to do. So if you decide to go to the police, you will still be doing a version of "the right thing". Even if your report doesn't go anywhere, there'll at least be a report in his record, for when the next woman tries to press charges against him. (I assume so, anyway. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

And It might be that you may want to warn other women about what this guy is capable of. You're the only one who can guess how well that conversation would go over with the women you know. It's entirely possible they would decide you're lying (speaking from experience). In my situation, most people I knew believed me, and a few still call me a lying liar slut to this day, 12 years later. Those discussions do have a way of sorting the wheat from the frigging chaff in your friends group, that's for sure.

But definitely talk to a therapist or a rape crisis center soon. You need someone to help you sort this out for yourself. The only way through these situations is some combination of 1) getting help from others, and 2) time. You're going to be okay. You'll work it out. Just be sure to seek help, and start actively deciding to not blame yourself.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:49 PM on January 2, 2013 [16 favorites]

Just as a data point:

I had a really great friend who came out years later as a serious alcoholic. We partied together all of the time. Sometimes she would seem a little too drunk, but she was definitely conscious, animated, and interactive.

Years later, after she got sober, I found out that during many of those times my friend was partying, having fun, and was seemly conscious... she was actually operating in complete black-out mode. As in, no memory of conversations, events, or decisions that she made even though she was upright and functioning. Zero memory.

Knowing that is is possible for someone to be drunk, functioning, AND totally blacked out - we internet strangers can not say what happened or did not happen to the OP. We don't even know if the "friend" was just as drunk as the OP, nearly sober, or in an even worse state of functioning black-out. We. Don't. Know.

Just throwing this data out there because all of the assumptions in this thread of criminal acts or intentions are likely very alarming to the OP, especially given our collective complete lack of first-hand knowledge about what ACTUALLY transpired.
posted by jbenben at 1:49 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

[Folks. NO MORE sideways assertions about what other people are saying. Give answers to the OP only, quit the subtle digs at other commenters. Seriously stop it.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:51 PM on January 2, 2013

I can see this as sort of a spectrum, based on the actual facts of what happened.

Given that you had previously said "no":

1. If you absolutely, definitely, never said yes: It was rape.

2. If changed your answer to "yes", but were too drunk to remember (and therefore consent), and he realized how drunk you were: It was rape.

3. If you changed your answer to "yes", but were too drunk to remember (and therefore consent), and he didn't realize that you were too drunk to consent: It was rape, but (and this will be controversial), I feel like this is the grey area where I feel sorry for dudes, because really, was he supposed to give you a breathalyzer before taking you at your word?

4. If you changed your answer to "yes", and at that moment had sobered up enough to give consent: Not rape. And not what happened.

So, the only way that it definitely wasn't rape is the only thing that didn't happen. I feel like #3 is in a weird "forgivable" area, but I also think that #3 is highly unlikely. Since it was mostly likely 1 or 2, you were most likely raped.

So, what to do? Beyond the advice (which is probably better than mine) to talk to people who are trained to help people in your situation (rape crisis center), I'd like to think that if it was me, and I knew that it was situations #1 or #2, I'd at the very least file the police report. Yes, it will be hard and people will doubt you because of: the lack of evidence, the amount of time, your fuzzy memory, but at least it will be reported.

If I was pretty sure that it might be a #3, I might talk to the dude about it, in a non-confrontational way (because regardless of whether he is a good guy or a douchebag, he will get defensive if you come out with "I think you raped me"), and maybe you can educate him a little about how his actions have had a long term effect for you -- because obviously he hasn't gotten the message that he needs to be more careful about consent when alcohol is involved. This chat is obviously not something that it's your responsibility to have -- it's the responsibility of potential rapists to know what consent is, not the other way around -- but it might make you feel better if you know that he's gotten the message from _this_ incident.

I'm sorry you're going through this.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:03 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is almost exactly what happened to me. Ten years later there are still sexual acts off the cards for me, there are still days where I think I never want to be around another man. For all of the other issues, the fact someone I considered a true friend did this caused the most damage. I lost a lot of trust I am only now just gaining back. If I'd had decent therapy (mindfulness and Acceptance therapy worked best for me) I probably wouldn't have had PTSD, I probably would have gotten to this point much earlier than I did.

I still look him up online sometimes, just to make sure he's nowhere near me.

For months afterwards I tried to be friends with him, tried having a normal relationship with him and with my partner. I started drinking to cope, to sleep. I started cutting when the alcohol stopped working. I kept a pretty damn good face on all of it until my housemate found me bleeding on the bathroom floor and made me get help (he's now my husband). But for months I ignored it. I would be like those women who took it as a learning experience. I wouldn't ruin his life.

I can still remember a conversation I had with him, a few weeks afterwards, when we were having (consensual) sex.

"Are you sure? You went all weird last time, because you had your period."
"No, it wasn't because of that."

It was the last time I had sex with him. Not only was it clear that he had noticed I was 'weird' but he hadn't actually cared that I said no. Beyond anything else, just how bad at sex was he not to be able to care? It took probably six months for me to call it rape, but a lot longer to actually get help.

The old mind trick, where you imagine this happening to a friend? Try that, and see just how much of a good 'friend' this guy seems then. I still wonder how many other women he did this to as well, all those women I vaguely knew who dumped him or left him or stopped calling. We offer ourselves so very little love sometimes, that we need to think of how it would affect others before we can decide how it affects us.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

Well, you said no and he kept going until he got what he wanted (to finally sleep with you). He was fully aware of what he was doing (he said so) and what he wanted and knew that you didn't want to sleep with him (you said no multiple times).

You don't need to label it, nor do you need to feel distraught about it. But I think you do need to look after yourself (counselling/get tested) and I think you should stay away from this guy.

I think you were a notch and the likelihood of him doing this again to you is low but to any mutual friends and other women is high - this may be something to think about when it comes to making a decision about how to proceed, but don't feel as if all of humanity rests on your shoulders, you have to look after yourself and your own well-being.

Ultimately, though, he's not a healthy person to keep in your life. If he was a close friend of mine and I felt safe doing so, I would explain to him very clearly and directly how he hurt me and how we can no longer be friends. In other situations, with more unsavory individuals, I would just move on and let the grapevine sort things out.

But if you need to talk to people about this, talk to them. Don't shut down your responses and feelings simply because you don't want to make it into a big deal - it's your life, it is a big deal.
posted by heyjude at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

[Folks, let's stick to answering the question and not worst-casing potential trial scenarios, please?]
posted by jessamyn at 4:27 PM on January 2, 2013

I'll try to keep this clear of my disgust for this "person."

As I hope is clear, he raped you. You said no, he ignored you. Case closed. Even if you don't intend to press charges, you should file a police report.

After that and at your comfort level, please don't play the societal game. Ignore or shut down any victim blaming and make it known among your social circles that "Probably Clean" McGee is a rapist.

Both of these actions are good for the same reason: You're probably not the first, and you probably know the other victims. A police report could help establish a pattern of behavior should someone press charges in the future. If he's outed locally and without shame, then others might come forward. Plus, you'll find out real fast who your friends are.
posted by cmoj at 6:25 PM on January 2, 2013

I hope you find the answers and support you need to find peace about this.

One thing that is clear to me is that this guy has a system. Flirting at a party creates an alibi. The coat closet location wasn't an accident because it was secluded, but any witnesses who found you would be embarrassed and assume regular hanky panky. Mutual drunkenness also assuages his guilt to many people. (This was a joke in Superbad, actually.) The "playfulness" of the forcing allowed him to escalate his force but also left room to plausibly deny any intent on his part. Even the smarmy comment at the end is designed to trigger shame.

The whole scene was designed to make you feel confused. You may feel guilty for not really understanding what happened, but that isn't your fault. He acted in ways that he knew would create confusion. The blame is on him and, frankly, our society rightfully places the burden of discussing sexual consent on the most enfranchised party and, as a man, he failed to meet that super duper simple standard of care.

The thing about systems like this man's system is that they are designed, then field tested and then refined and field tested again ad nauseum. That is why so many people here are saying that you may want to choose to compare notes with other people. He will do this again. Whether or not you choose to label this situation, it is a harmful one that is hurting other people.

Certainly this event is your's alone to define for yourself, and you may want to spare a thought for your significant other. One of my loved ones is a survivor of sexual violence and knowing concrete ways to support her were important aid to me also. I'm the doviest dove who ever doved and I wouldn't blame any boyfriend that attacked a man like the one you describe. Productive outlets might help your SO stay out of trouble as well. Certainly keeping the "friend" in your life is not going to be good for your relationship with your SO, despite the open relationship.

Again, I hope you can find some mindfulness, self-care and peace throughout the coming days.
posted by Skwirl at 11:18 PM on January 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

There is no vital detail which could make this a "mishap." His actions throughout the entire interaction look as if he were more interested in getting his rocks off than in treating you decently, i.e.:

--not taking reasoned nos for an answer and "joke-forcing" you (coercive and creepy)
--not taking another firm no for an answer and pressuring you verbally (also coercive and creepy)
--penetrating you after all those nos (legally rape, as has been covered above)
--crowing about it on the way out the door. (creepy)

His actions throughout this episode speak to his desire to have sex with you whether you were interested or not. As you describe it, your eventual "consent" was being too drunk to fend him off. Even if you did say a drunken "yes" you no longer remember, that doesn't turn you into a sober consenting partner or turn him into a non-coercive non-creep. He acted like a predatory self-centered jerk.

Beyond that, you should talk to a counselor and work out what you'd like to do next, if anything. We all have different ways of dealing with this kind of stuff, and it's fine to be confused and uncomfortable without being super freaked out. Don't let anyone bully you and tell you what you have to do or feel. Take care, anon.
posted by feets at 3:50 AM on January 3, 2013 [6 favorites]

So much has been said it would seem nothing remains to add. Still, I was struck by this very clear assertion of yours, ". . . I know I never gave him a "Yes"." Without that conscious consent, it is rape.

The thing I see so clearly now, after processing for more than sixty years the first and second times I was raped, is that a man who is pushing your boundaries after you have said no is very likely to keep pushing and eventually to rape you. Some of them are attractive, very practiced at pushing boundaries and might actually be serial rapists whose every victim is left puzzled and doubting herself.

If I could give any courage to a young woman, it would be that she should be very certain of her right to become alert and remove herself at the first boundary crossed, rather than wait for the inevitable escalation. People who push your boundaries (unless they're your therapist charged with doing so) are not up to any good. DTMFA.

It is your call what you do now, as bearwife says. I wish you strength and healing for your spirit. Rape is an ugly thing that hurts and haunts us. I have found much comfort in the friendship of women; it was lovely to discover that feminism is also about that.
posted by Anitanola at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2013 [7 favorites]

One more data point in case you didn't know -- contrary to what the general public thinks, the most common form of sexual assault is an acquaintance or "friend" maneuvering the target into drunkenness or druggedness, then taking advantage. And these crimes are virtually never prosecuted. I too suspect this isn't your "friend's" first time around using this modus operandi.
posted by bearwife at 10:41 AM on January 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sidenote: I have memory loss for different rapes, due to physical side effects. I get flashes of memory for some things, and I've learned that there are certain styles of sex that I can't handle because it will make me freak out for what my body remembers even if my mind doesn't. These are assaults 17-25 years ago, with unclear muddled memories and they still have very real presence in my life. They are almost like holes in your mind, gaps where you can feel the edges and have a sense of something murky and dangerous hidden within, or just a space where there's nothing but a snatch of someone's voice. It's bizarre, and I used to wonder if I was walking past my rapist on the street, because they could remember me, but I couldn't remember them or exactly what had happened.

Sometimes that hurt, especially because it wasn't something I'd ever really read or heard about, such a weird thing to find upsetting and yet - not knowing, the blank areas in my memories, were sometimes worse than what I did remember of being raped. I could imagine worse, and having them and their friends know something so private and painful of me that I couldn't know felt like a continuing violation.

But it gets better. I've come to terms with the holes in my memory and that I can't fill them. They're like faded bruises now, old scars, and I try not to press them too much. It does get better. It will get better not knowing, I promise.

Also, not my case but someone close to me - reporting acquaintance rape led to the rapist getting fired and blacklisted. They couldn't do a legal case for evidence reasons, but he admitted the assault and help was found for other victims. Talk to a rape counselor, to a therapist, to a lawyer. There are often options beyond just going to the police.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:05 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

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