Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Dear Luke

(Cross-posted from Musings of a Rose)

I am writing this in response to a comment by someone calling themselves Luke on a blog written by London Feminist entitled ‘Rape Culture in up to 140 characters’, a storify of the responses to the Ched Evans verdict.  Ched Evans is a footballer, and so the case received much publicity and column inches.

In the words of London Feminist, the context of the prosecution was that the victim had gone with Evans' team-mate Clayton McDonald to a hotel, after they met at a nightclub.  McDonald then sent Evans a text saying he'd "got a bird" and Evans showed up with two other men, one of whom filmed the sex.  The woman woke up unable to recall what had happened, thinking her drink had been spiked, and complained that she had not consented to sex at all.  The jury acquitted McDonald, with whom the victim had apparently gone to the hotel willingly, but convicted Evans.  He has been given a five year sentence.

The full blog can be accessed here,

Luke wrote on May 08 at 19.12

Any evidence that there was definitely no consent? Or can she just not recall? In my eyes, what they did was wrong whether there was consent or not but I guess when we live in a society that heartily embraces drunkenness and fornication (and both at the same time, even better!) then are we really surprised when situations like this arise? I think the root of the problem lies way beneath blaming her or him. Should she have gotten into such a drunken mess, should he have had sex with her even when she was drunk? Both seem culpable. Her irresponsibility when drinking alcohol has consequences, she’s an adult, she should know this. No, that doesn’t mean she deserved to get raped, it simply means she should have seen the possible consequences. Of course, in the eyes of the law, and rightfully so, if she didn’t give consent then he is legally speaking a rapist, but there is a bigger picture than just what the law says. If she was in such a state that she couldn’t remember who she had sex with then does who she has sex with REALLY matter much to her?

Luke is not alone in thinking this.  In a 2010 survey 64 per cent of respondents said they thought a person should take responsibility for being raped if they drank to excess/blackout.

This matters to me.  I was raped.  I had been drinking.  I had been drinking a lot.  Like the girl raped by Ched Evans, I also believed I might have been drugged, although I will never now know for sure.  Certainly, the way I blacked out and remember what happened in flashbacks is not the way my memory works other times I’ve been drinking a lot.  I thought for a long time that it mattered if I had been drugged, because if I had been drugged, then it definitely wasn’t my fault and it was premeditated on his part.  First, it took me a long while to forgive myself for being so ‘stupid’, for putting myself at risk and trusting that the guy I was meeting on the blind date was just there for a meal and to get to know each other.  But then, I realised, and the SlutWalk movement has been very instrumental in helping me to realise, that there was nothing for me to forgive myself for.  My drunkenness didn’t rape me, the man raped me.  I have been out with men before, and since, where I’ve been drinking.  I’ve had men come home with me when I’ve been drinking.  Those men haven’t raped me; when I’ve told them to stop, they’ve stopped.  The difference is not the drinking.  The difference is those men weren’t rapists, the man who raped me, he’s a rapist and that’s why I was raped.

Luke, the person who is raped is NEVER culpable.  Drunkenness does not constitute consent, and if the person you are with is drifting in and out of consciousness, seems disoriented about where they are, or who you are, you can be absolutely, certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, assured that they do NOT consent.  Luke, the possible consequences of getting into a drunken mess, as you so eloquently put it, should not include rape.  The only possible consequences of getting into a drunken mess should be a stinking hangover the next day.

Luke, you are right, the root of the problem isn’t just a ‘her fault, his fault’ dynamic, it is more complex than that.  The root of the problem is you, and the 64% of society at large, that buys into this rape culture, that keeps victims silent, that refuses to condemn rapists for the scum they are, that comes up with rape apology after rape apology after rape apology.

Luke, you ask a question at the end of your post.  You ask, does it really matter that much to her if she can’t remember?  Yes, Luke, it really matters.  However much her conscious mind remembers, her subconscious remembers far more.  In fact, her subconscious is trying to protect her conscious mind by not revealing all the details.  But she will remember, in her nightmares, with ongoing post-traumatic stress symptoms, which will suddenly appear to terrify at any moment.  Luke, it’s now over 4 years since I was raped, and I still suffer from nightmares, from PTSD, from the inability to deal with stress.  It affects me every day.  Luke, it matters.  For rapists, it might have been one night.  For the victim, it means trying to survive, every day, and many days, even years later, feeling that the attempts are futile.

It upsets me beyond words that 64% of society believes I was partly to blame for being raped.  I want to feel that I’m not alone.  If you stand with me, let me know that you’re not one of the 64%, let me know you’re not Luke, and if you were once one of the 64%, please let me know you’ve changed your mind, give me hope that it won’t always be this way, that rape culture will end, one day.

#ImNotLuke #ImNotThe64%

Thank you for reading.


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3 thoughts on “Dear Luke

  • Hecuba says:

    I find it astounding – actually I do not that whenever malestream media reports a male was assaulted by another male when he was walking home late at night, there is no question whatsoever of the male victim being held partially or wholly accountable for his actions. Malestream media does not ask why was this male victim walking home alone late at night. There have been cases wherein an incapacitated male was physically assaulted by another male and no questions were asked concerning the drunken male’s culpability. I wonder why?

    Answer is because males accord themselves their right to go wherever whenever they please and expect not to be routinely physically attacked by another male or males. In other words a male has the right of bodily autonomy including right not to be physically attacked by another male.

    However women are expected to always maintain their security and safety whenever they venture out into mens’ public spaces and if any male attacks them then of course the female victim is to blame. This includes women being told they are always responsible when a male makes the choice and enacts his agency to sexually prey on a female. Male rapists and their male rape apologists continue to refuse to accept the fact women do not exist in a constant state ‘of sexually consenting to whatever males demand’ and this is why the focus is always on ‘did the woman consent?’ Rather than ‘did the male sexually prey on this woman?’

    Given many men consume alcohol and become incapacitated does this mean I have the right to steal a drunken man’s wallet because he was too drunk to refuse giving me consent to steal his wallet?

    The crux of the issue is pandemic male belief that women are always sexually consenting or rather sexually available to men and any male has the right if he chooses to sexually prey on any woman unless she specifically ‘does not consent!’ Bingo it continues to be a win win for male sexual predators and denial of women’s fundamental right of ownership and control over their bodies.

  • Liz says:

    Yes, I stand with you. I was raped when I was a 19 year old student and still a virgin. It was many years ago and for many years I thought it was my fault.
    I got into conversation with a 35 year old ‘mature’ student from overseas. He asked me to have coffee with him in his bed sitter. It was on my way home and although I wasn’t interested in him I didn’t want to appear unfriendly, or worse still racist.
    He made me a coffee and then persuaded me to have a glass of something very strong. He then raped me and even hissed at me that his landlady would be angry about the blood on the bedspread.
    I told nobody for years. After all, I thought it was my fault! It was not my fault and is never the fault of any woman who is raped whatever the circumstances. It can’t be said too often. Rape is always a crime.

  • Michael Weipert says:

    If men were routinely raped (that is an awful expression) but I think it is valid the prison sentences would be at least twice as long. Rape as I understand it is not just about sex it is about domination, power and violence. It is the violence of violation and humiliation, why else was it filmed and this in itsslf should have meant all those men invloved with this awful crime should have received some kind of custodial sentence. Will fathers take their daughters to Sheffield United knowing that they may wish for an auotgraphed picture of Evans. What will they see when they look at him will they wonder if it could have been their daughter and how would they feel or will they remain silent and like 64% give a tacit validation to Evans. This is the tragedy for the victim of this crime: a cliche comes to mind they are heaping ‘insult to injury’ on her and it sickens and saddens me deeply.