I Was Shamed Into Sobriety After I Was Sexually Assaulted
When I was 24, I was raped.
“Because I was drunk, I blamed myself.”
I don’t remember the details. I remember bits and pieces – walking up the steps to his apartment, a room full of people I didn’t know, laying on a bed. Then a flash of someone between my legs. Next thing I know, I’m running out of his apartment in the middle of the night. I run the 1.2 miles to my best friend’s apartment, let myself in, and pass out in her bed. The next morning, I wake up wearing only my dress. My underwear, stockings, and shoes are nowhere to be found. I feel sick, and wish I could remember what happened.
I don’t remember because I was drunk.
That shouldn’t change anything, but unfortunately it does.
Because I was drunk, I blamed myself.
Because I blacked out, I thought it was my fault that someone else assaulted my body.
Since I couldn’t remember any details, no one would believe me anyway. I was convinced my boyfriend would blame me as well, so I made my friends swear they wouldn’t tell him. Telling my parents was out of the question as well – I was afraid they would be disappointed in my actions. My girlfriends were horrified and pushed me to go to the authorities, but I wouldn’t budge. I had already convicted myself of the crime.
“I read the statement from the woman raped by Brock Turner, and her words rocked me to the core.”
My sentence? No more drinking.
Most people would say that isn’t a bad thing. Looking back, I’d agree. Getting sober was one of the best decisions of my life. Staying sober for almost 10 years has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.
But I wonder if I did it for the right reasons.
I decided Sept 9, 2006 would be the last night I ever drank, because I never wanted to be that vulnerable again. I didn’t want to put myself at risk of being assaulted. Is that being savvy? Perhaps, but it is also buying into rape culture. It’s an example of a victim taking the responsibility to fix a situation that never should have occurred. I have spared myself being sexually assaulted while unconscious for the last10 years, but what about all the other women who have been victimized since then?
“Drinking isn’t a crime. Blacking out isn’t a crime. Putting your hands on another person’s body without consent IS a crime.”
I read the statement from the woman raped by Brock Turner, and her words rocked me to the core. If I had gone to the authorities, chances are the narrative would have been similar to hers. My assaulter wasn’t a Stanford swimmer, but he has also never expressed remorse for the events of that night. All I have heard from him was that IF I was actually assaulted that night, it wasn’t him – it was someone else that was at his house that night. As if that would somehow make it okay if he didn’t personally penetrate me, but instead just allowed someone else to.
I found out later that my underwear from that night was hung up in his house like a trophy.
“What we need to push is the message, DON’T RAPE.”
Clearly he doesn’t share my viewpoint of that night.
No one should make the decision to stop drinking out of fear of being assaulted. Drinking isn’t a crime, and neither is blacking out. Putting your hands on another person’s body without consent IS a crime. Being unconscious is possibly the most relentless LACK of consent there can be. The message, “watch what you drink or you might get raped,” has been accepted long enough, and it completely misses the point. What we need to push is the message, DON’T RAPE. We need to push the concepts of respect, bodily autonomy, and the crazy idea that someone else’s body is NOT your playground. Sobriety and a healthy relationship with alcohol isn’t a bad thing, unless it’s used to victim blame.
I wish I would have gotten sober because I finally recognized my own worth. I wish my sobriety would have been the result of realizing I didn’t have to run from my problems, and I was strong enough to overcome them without needing to escape. Instead, I got sober because I never wanted to feel as worthless as I did that morning… ever again.
This incredible post was submitted by Sara McCall.