Amy printed the letter of an outraged reader, who accused her of not caring what happened to the victim, suggesting that the victim may have been drugged. Amy then responded this way:
Dear Disgusted: To recap, “Victim” asked a very serious question in a very thoughtful way. She said she had gotten drunk at a frat party and went to a bedroom with a guy.
After saying in advance that she didn’t want to have sex, she did have sex.
The letter writer didn’t lose consciousness and she didn’t indicate she thought she had been drugged. She was intoxicated.
She was wondering if what happened to her qualified as rape and she was wondering what she should do next.
In my answer, I told her that “no means no” — before or during sex, sober or drunk (I assume the guy had also been drinking).
I told her that she had been raped, and I included information from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (rainn.org) to further educate her about this.
I told her to go to her student health center and seek medical and emotional support and counseling and to get advice from professionals at school.
I told her that the perpetrator should be confronted by authorities at school because he might have done this before and might do it again unless he is stopped.
Unfortunately, I started my answer by expressing frustration at her judgment to get drunk at a frat house, calling it “awful.” This is the part of my answer that has enraged readers, who have accused me of “blaming the victim.”
As a mother (and stepmother) to five daughters — four in college — I have counseled (and worry about) all of my many daughters because of how vulnerable they are if they choose to drink. Drinking to intoxication poses very serious security issues for our daughters and sons, because being drunk impairs judgment and the ability to discern risk.
Because “Victim” wondered where the line was, I tried to draw it for her. My intent was to urge her (as I often urge readers) to take responsibility for the only thing she could control — her own choices and actions — but I regret how harshly I expressed this.
I certainly didn’t intend to offend or blame her for what happened, and I hope she will do everything possible to stay safe in the future.
I’m grateful that she chose to share her question with all of us, because talking about it will help others.
In her original answer, I don’t think Amy explicitly said, “yes you were raped,” and I don’t think she was clear that “authorities”–not the victim herself–should contact the guy–two points that bothered a lot of readers. Personally (maybe because I’ve been reading Amy as long as shes’s been around and am generally sympathetic to her), I felt that she meant both of those things–as she clarifies here. But I think her original column was probably too ambiguous on both of these points.