5 Realities Of Date Rape Many Women Already Know

Because Cracked has some sort of masochistic commitment to covering every aspect of date rape on a comedy site, we've already told you about how shitty the legal system treats it, how colleges try to sweep it under the rug, what it is like to perpetrate a sexual assault yourself, and how the world reacts when it's a guy being raped by a girl. I'm also unlucky enough to be in the position to share some firsthand knowledge, and since date rape is just one never-ending pit of bullshit, I think there is more you need to know.

#5. Your Rapist Can Be An Otherwise Normal, Nice Person

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Let's just get this out of the way in the beginning: The vast majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Current estimates put it at about 80 percent perpetrated by nonstrangers, while 47 percent are committed by a friend. Think of your friends. Are they sociopaths? Probably not, or why would you be hanging out with them in the first place? Yet, if you were the victim of a rape, there is almost a one-in-two chance that your assailant would be one of those great people.

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Live your life in complete paranoia because everyone is out to get you.

Mine was a very nice guy. We were extremely close friends and had even hooked up consensually in the past. If this event had never happened, we might still be in contact today, and I would scoff at the idea that he could ever do something so horrible.

I think that is why so many people have a problem with the reality of date rape. If I were to describe my rapist, he would sound like, well, you. If I were to recount our time together, up to and including the party on the night it happened, almost all of it would seem enjoyable. Since our monkey brains want to believe people are either good or evil, we have a hard time handling anything more nuanced, like the fact that good friends can suddenly become rapists. If my rapist was a nice guy, then the situation must have been my fault in some way. I must have been flirting with him. He was confused, since we had sex in the past. There was alcohol involved, so he didn't know what he was doing.

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Alcohol: an asshole's best excuse since 10,000 B.C.

We cling to bullshit like that because, otherwise, we have to face the possibility that our society is so broken that it makes rapists out of regular people. Or, that hiding inside seemingly normal minds lurk potential monsters. People who might never get punished and who go on to live long, happy lives, who don't look like rapists, and, most of the time, who aren't acting like rapists. People who we work with, who are friends with, who we are related to. Those people are also capable of committing a crime that could get them up to life in prison if they were convicted.

And no, before those with hair triggers start firing off reactionary accusations, I'm not saying everyone is a potential rapist. I'm saying that in a lot of real-life rape cases, you would never fathom them having the thought, let alone being capable of actually doing it.

#4. Sometimes, It's Just Easier Not To Press Charges

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That is, if they ever make it to court in the first place. We've told you before how absolutely horrible the criminal justice system treats women who decide to press charges. Every woman who is sexually assaulted has a tough decision to make: Does she want to put herself through that?

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"Hmmm ... Relive the worst moment of my life, or take that economics final? Tough call."

I knew better than most how difficult the process could be. I had been volunteering at a women's shelter/rape crisis center for a few months and had been well trained in the realities of getting a rape case through the legal system to a conviction. So, there I was, answering calls from others who had been sexually assaulted, encouraging them to go to the hospital and get a rape kit done -- when I hadn't. I was telling them their options about pressing charges, when I had decided I wasn't going to. Does that make me a giant hypocrite? Yeah, maybe.

But, I had weighed my options. I was in my junior year of college. I had classes to worry about, volunteer work to do, and parties to attend. Pressing pause on all of that -- to fight a case I knew I probably wouldn't win -- just didn't seem worth it. He didn't attend my university, so going there for justice wasn't an option. The first person I told the next morning (what's known as an outcry witness) didn't seem to believe me (because, remember, my rapist was SUCH a nice guy), and that set the tone in my mind for how all people would react. After that, I didn't tell more than a select few friends what had happened because, while I stopped hanging out with the guy, I didn't want to make people choose between us ... in case they didn't pick me. Believe me, I am well aware of how fucked up that is.

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Coming second to a rapist would probably do a number on your self-esteem.

It wasn't an easy decision to make. We're taught from infancy that doing something wrong has consequences and that the punishment should fit the crime. It was extremely difficult to know he was continuing his life as if nothing had happened and knowing that he was going to get away with it. But, by deciding not to press charges, I made the decision that I was not going to be defined by this experience and that I was going to take back my life.

#3. You Don't Always Feel Like A Victim

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There is no question I was raped, by the legal definition. And I would like to think that the majority of men in that situation wouldn't be confused about whether I was consenting or not: He had to hold me down, and I was crying and begging him to stop. It was pretty damn obvious. I suppose I could have gone a step further by constructing a flashing neon sign that said, "YOU ARE RAPING ME -- PLEASE STOP RAPING ME". But, because I don't want to insult women who go through violent rape, or who are drugged, or who are attacked in an alley by a stranger, I don't consider myself a victim in the same way. I'm not saying that it was a pleasant experience or one that I ever want to go through again. I'm just saying that I don't label myself as a victim.

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The only things falling victim to rape from now on are my allergies.

And I'm not alone in feeling that way: 73 percent of women whose sexual assaults fit the legal definition of rape don't think of themselves as rape victims. It makes sense when you think about it. Who wants to be a "victim"? That's one reason that people who have been raped are now officially referred to as "survivors." It's much easier to talk about your experience when you approach it from the angle that you are a badass who got through it than if it sounds like a scarlet letter labeling you as a weakling for life.

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Now, if you could carry it around as a happy balloon, that would be a different story.

That doesn't mean that it can't mess you up. In fact, until I sat down to write this column, I didn't realize just how badly it had affected me. Rape is a violation on an unimaginable scale for anyone who hasn't experienced it. And even if you don't consider yourself a victim or press charges or go to therapy for it, it will change you. Trigger warnings get ridiculous shtick online, but there are things that can take me back to that moment, whether it is someone unexpectedly saying his first name, having a memory of something else and then realizing he had been there, or tons of other little things without warning. It might not drive me into hysterics, but, at the very least, it's fucking annoying.

I suppose that description is weird in itself, but it's true. Remembering it is less like a war veteran diving under tables when a firecracker goes off and more like trying to dodge a stupid bee that keeps dive-bombing your head. It's annoying as shit, and you know there's always the possibility that it could land and sting you right in the neck. What I'm saying is that bees are stupid.

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Kathy Benjamin

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