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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

2
It Can Be The World's Most Screwed-Up Bonding Experience

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Some women are raped and never want to think about it again. They just want to put it completely behind them and move on with their lives, and that is an absolutely fine way to deal with it. But, other women, like me, want to talk about it. Not all the time, you understand; you don't have to worry I'm going to bum everyone out with gory details if you invite me to your next dinner party.

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"Oh, veal, how nice. Speaking of destroying the innocence of something young and beautiful ... "

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There are a LOT of women out there who have been raped, and most of them never did anything official about it. But, from time to time, it will come up in conversation, and when it does, it is almost like this rite of passage. "Oh, you were date raped in college? Me, too!" It's a ridiculously bizarre thing to bond over -- and yet, it works. Talking about it and realizing that a not-insignificant number of women have such similar stories normalizes it, not in a way that makes it OK, but lets you feel less alone. It helps you move past any issues you may still have about the incident.

It makes you think that if all of the women on Game Of Thrones got together at a party, they would walk out with the most destructive, powerful army that the world has ever seen.

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I guess, on some unconscious level, it's possible.

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But by talking it out, you take control of the narrative. It becomes your story, rather than something that happened to you. If rape is about power, making fun of your rapists as a group lets you take back that power.

1
You Realize You Believe the Same Myths As Everyone Else

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Every now and then, a (male) politician makes the news for saying something unbelievably stupid about rape. Everyone probably remembers the "legitimate rape" debate of 2012, where Rep. Todd Akin claimed in an interview that women could not get pregnant through sexual assault. But, there are less overtly stupid myths out there, and they have seeped into all of our brains, where they hold on tight for dear life.

The most common ones are about how men are less responsible for their actions when they are drunk, yet women are completely responsible for theirs. We can't show too much skin or we must be asking for it (but wear jeans, and you must have consented!) We can't drink too much, or go to their house, or invite them to ours, or put ourselves in any other situation that the person judging us deems dangerous. And women do the judging just as much as men! These days, the new, hip myth is the existence of "gray rape", or a combination of date rape and denial, which, when you actually read about it, is just good old-fashioned date rape.

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There's also Mr. Grey rape, but that's another article entirely.

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Since I was volunteering at that rape crisis center when I was assaulted, I knew my shit. I knew date rape myths. I knew studies and statistics. But, still, I found myself making excuses for him, such as the drinking and my possible flirting. I make excuses for him to this day. That's how prevalent date rape myths are in our society: They are impossible to completely ignore even when you are the victim of the assault. There is constant second guessing because, again, this is a person who up until that moment was my friend.

That's why I wanted to put this out there, to add my little drop of rain to the storm that will come and wash away all our misunderstandings about rape. Because not all sexual assault survivors will act like stereotypical victims. We won't all press charges. We won't all go to therapy to get past the experience. We might even blame ourselves a tiny bit. But, that doesn't make what happened to us any less real or any less terrible. The good news is that the number of rapes is declining, and if we keep talking about our experiences and educating as many people as possible, maybe we can bring that number down to zero.

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Or, I can market that neon sign idea and become a millionaire off the world's darkest product.

Kathy wrote a very funny book called Funerals To Die For, and you can buy it here. Or, follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.

Deep inside us all behind our political leanings, our moral codes and our private biases, there is a cause so colossally stupid, we surprise ourselves with how much we care. Whether it's toilet paper position, fedoras on men or Oxford commas, we each harbor a preference so powerful we can't help but proselytize to the world. In this episode of the Cracked podcast, guest host Soren Bowie is joined by Cody Johnston, Michael Swaim and comedian Annie Lederman to discuss the most trivial things we will argue about until the day we die. Get your tickets here!

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You'll get creeped out after you sing along to the songs in 8 Romantic Songs You Didn't Know Were About Rape and learn some very dark truths in Most Victims Are Men: 5 Realities Of Rape In The Military.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see why rap isn't exactly the best medium to discuss rape in White People Rapping About Rape: What Could Go Wrong?, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!

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