“Well, what was she wearing?” “Yea, but was she drinking?” These are the unfortunate and unfair questions that often are asked after a sexual assault. Today’s “No More” post comes courtesy of an anonymous but honest student who wants college parties to be safer for everyone.
We’ve all been there: covering our drinks with cocktail napkins so someone can’t slip a roofie in it, drinking the “punch” out of the cooler which is made with some crazy-strong grain alcohol so we can’t tell how much we’ve had to drink until it’s too much, carrying your drink with you to the bathroom. My roommate does that. She is that (understandably) nervous about someone doing something to her drink.
Then there’s after the party: do you risk walking home with a group of friends, afraid of the boogey man in the night? Or crashing after the party on the sketchy host’s sofa? Or catching a ride from someone you’ve just met who seems nice enough but you really have no way of knowing?
These are all decisions I’ve faced in the past and will continue to face as long as I want to socialize yet drink responsibly.
On college campuses, sexual assault and violence are way too prevalent. And the drinking environment at parties adds fuel to the fire. While drinking is no excuse for sexual assault, alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions, and things happen at parties that wouldn’t happen in the sober light of day.
I wish we could be more open about what goes on at parties. I wish we had a culture where people acknowledged the drinking, so that we could take preventative measures to help keep people safer. I wish that people wouldn’t blame themselves, even if they had been drinking underage. I wish that the victim of an assault wouldn’t get blamed by others, no matter what she had been doing or drinking earlier that evening or before.
This requires a bit of a cultural shift. While it is important to take precautions, like going with friends and knowing your limits, unheeded precautions should not result in victim-blaming. And if you lose your friends or over-imbibe, no matter what happens to you, it is not your fault. The police should be more responsive, and ideally the culture of partying would evolve into one where fun did not require booze. But until it does, we’ll all do what we can to feel safer, but remember it is still never our fault.