One Of The Worst Things About Being Date Raped Was My Friends Acting Like It Was No Big Deal

After I was date raped by a guy in our social circle, I opened up about the horrific experience to my friends. I was traumatized by what I’d been through, but instead of sympathizing and offering their support, they made light of the situation and jokingly called me “a bit slutty” before telling me that I shouldn’t be mad at him. Uh, what?

They did nothing to alleviate the overwhelming sense of guilt I felt. Even though logically I knew that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, I felt responsible in a way, as if I’d let it happen to me. My friends’ “joking” comments about being slutty only made those feelings stronger. A little reassurance that he was in the wrong and that there’s nothing I could have done to prevent what happened would have made me feel so much better.

They made me question whether I’d really been raped at all. I doubted my own judgment after I was raped. I just couldn’t believe it was real, that it had actually happened to me. By downplaying what I’d been through, my friends left me even more uncertain about whether or not it was even rape. It would have been helpful to hear that the events I was describing sounded like rape to them too.

They convinced me not to tell the police. Like many others, I chose not to report my rape. I told my story to an acquaintance who also knew my rapist and she called me a liar and said that no one wanted to be my friend. I was afraid and embarrassed. If my own peers reacted this way, why would the authorities be any different?

I was concerned about my health but they weren’t. On top of the emotional and mental damage caused by my rape, I was also concerned for my health. I wasn’t taking birth control at the time and didn’t know this guy’s health or sexual history. At no time did any of my friends try to talk these concerns through with me. If only one of them had offered to go with me to the doctor, I might’ve had one less thing to worry about.

They thought they were helping by making light of what happened. It would be great if friendship was all about partying, drinking, road trips, and late night pizza runs, but life’s not all fun and games. Being a committed friend means being supportive in times of need. My friends tried hard to make light of my rape so that I wouldn’t feel it so acutely. What I really needed was for them to do some heavy lifting and show real compassion.

They perpetuated the damaging double standard women deal with all the time. Why didn’t anyone think to call my rapist slutty? I’ll bet he didn’t feel any guilt at all about that night. There’s a double standard that holds women responsible for things like date rape and domestic violence, like we must have done something to egg our abusers on. We need to do better at not blaming women for men’s behavior. We can start by insisting that men are accountable for their actions and by refusing to make excuses for them. Unfortunately, my friends weren’t quite that evolved in their thinking.

My guy friend’s response was even worse. Hearing from him that my rapist’s behavior wasn’t normal or OK would have gone a long way. Men are in a great position to advocate for women being mistreated by other men but many of them don’t step up to the plate and do anything about it. My guy friend didn’t really have anything to say about what I’d been through—he just went along with my girlfriends’ responses.

I didn’t need them to go on a crusade against the guy, I just wanted their support. Being supportive of a friend in need doesn’t mean you have to go out and fight their battles. I wasn’t expecting them to report my rapist on my behalf or to work to destroy his reputation or anything big. I only wanted them to listen to me, empathize with me, and offer me some support and understanding as I processed the experience. Whether they honestly believed I was overreacting or they just wanted to avoid any unwanted drama, their reaction was really disheartening.

In the end, life goes on. This terrible thing happened to me. I struggled with my friends’ reactions to it but I also didn’t want to let my rape define me. I wanted to move on, let go of any guilty feelings, and live my best life. It would’ve been nice to have had my friends by my side, but I’m strong enough to carry on either way.

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