Sexual Consent and Alcohol Awareness: A Personal Experience

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Trigger Warning: Talk of sexual assault and rape.

I’ll start off simple. It happened at a house party. It wasn’t violent or forceful, but it wasn’t consensual.

I’m not going to say ‘I got too drunk, and he raped me’, because it doesn’t matter that I was drunk – he took advantage of me being vulnerable and not fully conscious. Here’s the thing about consent and alcohol, some view it as a blurred line, that you can have sex when somebody is drunk if they are saying yes. I said yes, initially, and then no when he took the condom off. He ignored this and then I wasn’t conscious; I couldn’t ‘say no more assertively‘, or ‘push him off‘ as I was told I should have done after. 

As time passed, memories came back. He tried to force his way, ignored me when I said no to taking the condom off and I remembered slipping in and out of consciousness. However, I still don’t fully remember it. I was too drunk. He should and must have known that I’d passed out. 

Some people say things like ‘but if you don’t remember much, then how do you know you didn’t want it?’ If I was drunk, and someone came to rob my house, but I don’t remember it all, I was still robbed.  He should have realised, stopped, and made sure I was conscious and able to consent, but he didn’t. How is that my fault?

My therapist asked me ‘if someone else, a stranger or a friend, had come up to you and said “I think I was raped, I was too drunk” what would you say?’  I’d tell them it doesn’t matter what state they were in – if you didn’t want it, weren’t in a position to consent, or even if you withdrew consent during, it’s not your fault. Yet I couldn’t say that to myself.

I didn’t report my experience because I was scared. I was convinced by others I was just being dramatic, was too drunk and it was my fault. It was a very confusing experience, which messed with my head. I see the #whyididntreport hashtag and it both comforts and angers me that I wasn’t the only one too scared to report. Even now, I almost feel like I have to justify my experience. 

All I can really say is, if ever unsure of somebody’s ability to consent, stop and ask. Be thoughtful and aware. If they can’t walk in a straight line, they can’t consent. If they are slurring their words and are obviously too drunk, they can’t consent. If they’ve literally passed out during sex, they’re not consenting. I don’t know if he did it deliberately, maliciously or just thoughtlessly. I just know it wasn’t right.

I use my experience to try to help others in any way I can, but it’s not really a pain that disappears. I guess I’m telling you all now in the hope that somebody else reads this and understands they aren’t alone, it wasn’t their fault. If any of this topic affects you, here are just some of the support services you can reach out to:

SUSU Harassment Tool – An online anonymous reporting tool to report incidents and have a choice to investigate.
The Enabling Services – Drop-ins every weekday in term time, 1-3pm in B37.
Student Life – A 24/7 team within University halls that can be called, or found via your hall’s reception.
First Support – A first number to call for urgent support: 02380 597 488.
Yellow Door, Southampton’s rape crisis charity: helplines are Wednesdays, 4pm-7pm, on: 02380 63 63 13.
Treetops, a crisis charity for survivors open 24 hours on: 0300 123 6616.

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