Q: I recently went away on a girls’ weekend. I haven’t been away in a long time and have been single for almost two years. When we got to the hotel I started drinking almost immediately. We all went out on Saturday night and had a great time drinking and dancing. I was dancing with a guy who looked cute and we kissed on the dance floor. I ended up in bed with him and we had great sex. I remember it was really fun and we used a condom. We fell asleep afterwards. When I woke up the next morning I found him inside me having sex. I asked him to stop and he did but said he was fine with it as we had such a good time the night before. He wasn’t wearing a condom when I checked the package and saw only one was missing which we had already used. I didn’t know what to say so I just said I had to get ready. He left and I showered. I spoke to one of my friends and she said she doesn’t see the problem as we had such a good time together the night before and that I should have let him continue. She said I would make a big deal out of nothing and not tell the other girls lest the weekend be spoiled. It felt strange, but maybe she was right? I don’t really know what to think because I had fun the night before.
dr West replies: Your friend is wrong. That was wrong, and you don’t have to keep that to yourself. It wasn’t nothing, and talking about it doesn’t make a big deal. You don’t have to edit this yourself.
It doesn’t matter that you previously consented to having sex with this person. You can consent 100 times, and not having consent once still doesn’t make it okay. Let me be clear – what this person did was sexual assault. It doesn’t have to be violent, as some people think sexual assault looks like. Sexual assault looks like what this person did. He touched you without your consent, and what he did would meet the legal definition of rape. You cannot legally or realistically consent to sex while you sleep. You previously agreed to sex with a condom, so not having one during the assault is also an assault in itself. Consent must be an ongoing process, and consent to a previous encounter is not consent to subsequent encounters. It doesn’t matter that he stopped when you asked him to. He shouldn’t have even started since he didn’t have consent.
The heartbreaking truth is that sexual assault is often committed by people we know, and often condoned by people we know. What your friend did was downplay what happened to you and she also dealt with victim allegations. Sometimes it’s easier for others to bury their heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine because they don’t know what to say. Not everyone knows what to say as they are not trained sexual violence counselors and sometimes people are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Your friend may also have experienced sexual violence herself and found that it was a trigger for her to talk about it.
It is a cruel reality that sometimes after sexual or domestic abuse, our world shrinks when people distance themselves from the victim. People blame victims for a number of reasons, one of which is the “just world” theory. This theory states that people blame the victim because they think, “Well, this person deserves it because of what they did, so if I do the right thing, nothing bad will happen to me.” Bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people.’ In this way, we try to protect ourselves from the harsh reality that sexual violence can and does happen to anyone, regardless of how we behave. Sexual violence is a spectrum and does not reflect the behavior of the victim. The offender should always be the focus as he is the only person who caused damage.
I suggest you contact the Rape Crisis Center for support and to find a space to process what happened. They don’t mention when this happened, but if it happened recently, you can also go to a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) for a forensic examination. You can find your local SATU onhse.ie. It will also be important to have an STI test and a pregnancy test since he did not use a condom. For more information, see sexualwellbeing.ieand the staff at the STI Clinic will provide you with support and resources to support you.
It is also important to emphasize here that you have not done anything wrong. It’s perfectly fine to go out and have a fun night drinking, dancing, and having sex with a stranger. What he did when you were unable to consent was not okay. Your onward journey will most likely involve many different emotions as you process this and there are professionals available to help you process these experiences and feelings. You’re not alone. Your friend may not be the right person to talk about, and that’s okay. You need to focus on yourself and your process. It’s a process that will be tough at times, but the key is to treat yourself with compassion. Other people’s opinions don’t count. Thank you for trusting me with your experience and I wish you the best in your healing process.
dr West is a sex educator and host of the Glow West podcast, which focuses on sex. Send your questions to email@example.com. dr West regrets that she cannot answer questions privately
video of the day
https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/asking-for-a-friend-i-woke-up-to-find-him-inside-me-without-a-condom-or-my-consent-was-this-okay-41571917.html Asking for a friend: “I woke up and found him inside me without a condom or my consent. Was that ok?’