I remember waiting for a guest speaker when I was in high school. I was a freshman and sitting with other girls from my class. They didn’t give us a name and I wondered who it would be. A senior walked in the door. I knew who she was, everyone did. She was one of the most active and popular girls on the campus. She was going to be our guest speaker? As she began to speak she shared a very personal story of how she was raped by a guy she was dating.
Years later, I don’t remember all the words of her talk, but I do remember how brave she was to share. She wanted us to be careful and never think, “It won’t happen to me.” I remember words like “I thought I knew him.” “I felt like it was my fault. It wasn’t like he was a stranger.” “I didn’t tell anyone for awhile because I was ashamed.”
When you think about rape do you think of a stranger jumping out of dark alleyways and dragging their victim away? That does happen, but do you ever think it could be someone you know? The truth is that a rape occurs anytime a person is forced to have sex against their will. It doesn’t matter if the people know each other or are dating. Studies show that nearly one in four young women are sexually assaulted by the age of 18. Of those, about 70 percent knew the attacker.
No matter how far you’ve allowed things to go, you always have the right to change your mind and say “No” or “Stop” at any point. Just make it very clear to him you’ve decided “NO” for sure by saying “no.” Remember that you're not obligated to fulfill any expectations so don’t feel guilty about saying no.
Once you tell a guy "NO", you make it clear that you want all sexual activity to stop. Any further physical advance by the man becomes sexual assault. Period. Tell him to stop touching or threatening you or you’ll call the police. It’s at that point that you have the right to defend yourself as necessary.
Don’t ever think you owe a guy sex. You don’t. It doesn’t matter how expensive the dinner was or thoughtful he has been. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. No one ever owes another person sex at any time and as soon as sex is forced upon another person, then a rape has occurred. It’s really important for women to read that. Too often women keep quiet after a rape because they somehow think it is “their fault”. It’s really important to know that you were not “asking for it”. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing or if you were drinking.
No matter what happened if you said no and were raped it is not your fault. Do not blame your self! You don’t need to pretend that everything is okay either.
A student from Goshen College:
That day my fear of what happened turned into denial. I acted like I was fine, ignoring my sadness. To help me deal with it I made myself believe that he didn’t rape me, that what happened wasn’t so bad. After all, no “real” harm was done. He didn’t physically hurt me, he just used me. But there was not time to think about that; no time for the pain.
Date rape doesn’t always just happen once in an isolated event. Some women are living in relationships where it happens over and over. If you are in an abusive relationship, if this has happened to you, talk to someone.
If you have been raped, get help immediately. Don’t isolate yourself. If it has just happened, get medical attention as soon as you can. Don’t shower or wash, even though you will want to. This can give the police valuable evidence. Then, make sure you get counseling. Rape is traumatic and no one should have to deal with the trauma alone.
If you have been raped and think you might be pregnant, contact us to take a pregnancy test in a nonjudgmental, caring setting and to receive counseling and support. We are here to help.