Someone left a comment on this post from yesterday. I tried to respond to them through email, but I got an automatic fail bounceback email thing. So, I’m just making a full post of their original comment [verbatim – copied and pasted exactly as it was sent to me] and my email that’s in the ether somewhere.
I have to take issue with something you say here about just being able to drop charges. That really isn’t how it works. This is not a civil suit. A crime against a person is a crime against society. The victim cannot just decide, “oh never mind.” Once the DA telkaes the case, he or she has an obligation to prosecute. It is a huge deal to accuse someone of rape. It’s not something to be done with the thought that you might think it over and decide its as not quiiiite rape. And I think as you can understand, it would be extremely difficult to build a case that is entirely he said/she said in a couple engaging in sexual relations already. How would one procure evidence of a crime? If the issue is, he or she pressed me to have sex and pushed him or herself on me in the wrong moment/room/time of day, and I went along with it but CLEARLY was not into it, but I would have had sex with this person later, can you see how impossible that is to prosecute? It isn’t right, but our society does need to maintain the idea of innocent until proven guilty, and where would the proof be? I am sorry for what through int through. I wonder why this triggered so much more disturbance than the college episode with a random guy. I can see why the whole relationship was upsetting, but I think going to the police about this and wanting to prosecute this person — I just don’t know about that. And you say you have gone to such great lengths to protect him and keep his identity anonymous. Why? Had charges been brought against him, he would have no anonymity, so that must not have been an issue. I find this somewhat confusing. Anyway I am glad you are doing so much better, found a great therapist, and are eager to help others dealing with emotionally abusive relationships and rape.
I tried to send an email, but the email address the person left doesn’t seem to exist (I got an automated failure message back). Anyway, this is what I tried to say to them (or you, if it’s you who’s reading):
[Subject: Thank you for my blog comment]
Hey, I really appreciate it. I’m very sorry I potentially got something wrong. I have made a few additions to the post reflecting what you said. (You can see them in “edited to add” areas in there. The last one is long and kind of uses your email as a main jumping off point for some feedback I’ve been getting, as opposed to really thinking that your email was specifically saying it might not reeeeeally be assault (though I’m not really sure completely how you feel, but the point is it wasn’t all directed totally at your comments specifically. I also had already mentioned at the top that I’m not a legal expert, but I’ve added a longer and hopefully clearer disclaimer – just a girl who thinks about what I should’ve done differently (but still doesn’t reeeeally know).
Also, to the point you made in your comment, the guy in college wasn’t someone I trusted or even ever had to see again. I think that’s probably why it affected me less. If some random dude makes me bleed when I beg him to stop – I never have to see him again. I don’t have to question my own judgement, or feel weird about mutual friends and future settings etc etc and on and on. Also, I had a life already in Boston. I had friends. I had jobs. I was doing a lot. I was very settled. In NYC, I was brand new. So, it felt more isolating than it would’ve had I not just gotten here. It was just a crappy one time thing that happened. It was different, in my opinion. [Note: I didn’t send this link in the email because it seemed silly to direct them to a whole ‘nother blog post (also I didn’t want them to think I was passive aggressively asking “why haven’t you read every single post of mine already before talking to me (especially when links are changing and breaking as I try to clean up/organize the blog). But for those of you reading this now, you can see more information on that here if you want.]
As far as the evidence, I mean, him clearly stating “I knew you didn’t want to, but you needed to” seems pretty substantial to me. (Obviously it wasn’t enough to press charges when I presented it to the officer (because apparently semantics of whatever be argued in court), but still that’s sort of the definition of assault, so it kind of seemed like evidence-ish to me).
I also don’t know if I’ve really made this suuuper clear in my blog. (This whole thing has been very tough to write about. And I’m never sure if I’m mentioning details too often, or not often enough – if I’m over-explaining, or under-explaining… I don’t know. The point is…) It’s quite possible I’ve been unclear on this point, maybe… but he was very threatening.
When you say, “he or she pressed me to have sex and pushed him or herself on me in the wrong moment/room/time of day” and I “went along with it,” I would argue that’s an incorrect thing to say. Granted, you’re just commenting on a blog, so I would doubt that you think about every single word and very carefully phrase your thoughts. (I don’t mean to be super arguing semantics here.) But it’s not that someone made me feel a little pressures in the “wrong moment,” when I just kind of wasn’t into it. Someone willfully and forcefully crossed an explicit boundary I’d set. Just as it would be assault if you say you’re fine with fingering but not ready for sex, and he puts his dick inside you, it’s assault if you say I’m not ready for sex in my bed and he does it anyway. Being okay with certain sexual things and not with others is normal and the definition of boundaries. Not to mention the other time of when we were having sex in his bed and he belittled me and made me uncomfortable to the point of sobbing in his bed. I told him it was because of him and he completely ignored me. He crossed boundaries and went forward past clear nos. It was definitely not a case of, “I wasn’t in the mood, butI thought “eh, why now?” To the other point of “going along with it,” when I think someone “went along with something,” to me that means they didn’t suuuuper feel like something, but did it anyway because [whatever, a million reasons], but they still had some choice in that matter (even if it was kind of a passing choice). I think there’s a difference between someone who’s like, “I’m really not in the mood tonight.” “Oh, babe, come on, pleeeease?” “Okay, fine. But I’m super sleepy, so I’m mainly just gonna lay here. That’s all I can give tonight. I’m exhausted” “Okay!” vs. [crying, shaking, ‘I don’t know. I don’t feel safe/comfortable around you.’ etc. – never letting up or saying it was okay, just being forced into it]
I did not “go along with it.” I did nothing more than what I did because it did not feel safe to do anything else. I laid there and did nothing while he has sex with me while I was under threat – that’s the important part about it (that’s a giant part of what makes it assault) – being threatened. He didn’t extremely directly come out and say the exact words that “if you don’t have sex with me when I want, I’m going to really injure you” but based on maaaany things he said (that was that idea in so many words) that week and especially that night, and physical ways in which he intimidated me as well, it was beyond reasonable to think that if I did anything else, I would’ve been very seriously injured. So, I could probably do a better job of making sure that my writing reflects that I was truly under threat (as far as what any reasonable consider person would consider threatening). And I at least just want to make sure right now in this moment that that distinction is made clear.
I understand that there might not be enough evidence to successfully prosecute him. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t assault.
When I made a reference to potentially wanting to “drop charges” in a scenario in which I went to the police, it’s not because I’s change my mind about what happen and decide it’s “not quiiiite rape.” It’s rape either way. I do understand it’s a very serious thing.
I wasn’t trying to say remorse would make him all of a sudden time travel to un-rape me. I’m saying I think I personally might not want to see him get punished by the legal system if he showed remorse and I believed it was a giant mistake he made, instead of him being a danger to other people. And I understand after learning from your comment that that decision might not be mine to make after I’d report. But that’s all I was trying to say – the crime itself remains unchanged no matter what happens afterward, re: the victim’s feelings, the perpetrators punishment, etc.
To your point about wanting to give him anonymity, I actually laugh at myself a little in one of my drafted posts because it is ridiculous quite how much I have cared about his safety/comfort/anonymity in all this. And I have a *lot* of mixed feelings on that.
But the small one I’ll talk about now is that I guess one of the reasons I mention it a lot (maybe too much) is because I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to start a witch hunt on some specific man – tor have some weird targeted revenge or something. It’s about how I’ve reacted; what it’s been like; what I’ve learned about sexual assault in our culture, and therapy, and myself, and all this other stuff. I don’t want us to get lost in just attacking one dude (it’s really not supposed to be an “attack” at all), when it’s not even really all about him, per se. If that makes sense.
Anyway, I think that covers everything. I’m sorry for the length of this email. And I’m sorry if I misconstrued anything you said. As I said, I made (and labeled) edits to my last blog post.
I hope I answered all your questions/concerns. Please let me know if not. Thanks and have a lovely day!