Could Your Hookup Be Considered Sexual Violence?

Hi Heather,

I’m in college right now. One night, my boyfriend and I broke up after a string of fights. During this time we had been fighting, I had been getting closer to my guy best friend, complaining about my ex and kind of using him as a rebound. When we broke up, I called my guy BFF to cry to him. We then went to a party together. I got drunk and felt confused and sad, so he took me back to my dorm room. When we were there, he kissed me and told me he likes me. I didn’t know what to do, so I stupidly blurted out, “I have feelings for you.”

I know that was the wrong thing to say. I took my bra off and started to get comfortable in bed. He started to get pushy and started kissing me. I said I didn’t want things to go further, but he kept trying and wouldn’t stop, and then undressed me. He wouldn’t stop until I called him my boyfriend’s name. The whole time, all I wanted to was leave. My boyfriend and I ended up getting back together and he wasn’t mad about what happened with my friend and I, but I feel like the whole thing was my fault. I don’t know how to forgive myself, even though I feel like my friend crossed the line. How do you know when a hookup is considered sexual violence or assault? Am I just being dramatic here? Please help.

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I’m so sorry you’re going through this! Feeling guilty and crappy about a hookup is never fun, and questioning whether it was sexual violence? That’s not something anyone should have to deal with.

Sometimes, whether or not something was sexual violence can be hard to determine because it can fall into a grey area. This happens when the victim, usually a girl, will question her actions, thinking, “Did I make it clear enough that I didn’t want it? Maybe I didn’t,” or “I did something to make it seem like it was okay at first, so maybe that cancels it out?” or “We were drinking. Maybe we were both confused.” The accused, usually a guy, will think, “They let me do it, so it was fine!” or “She was wasted. She just doesn’t remember,” or “We didn’t even have sex, so it couldn’t have been assault.” These are the kinds of questions and thoughts that can easily veer into victim blaming territory.

But I want to make one thing clear: if you felt uncomfortable or violated, then something wasn’t right. You said that you kept saying no and asking him to stop, and he kept being pushy and doing things regardless of what you were saying. That is 100 percent not okay. It doesn’t matter if you confessed your love right before things went down – you were saying, “stop” and his actions were saying, “no.” He kept pushing forward even though you didn’t want to. That is definitely, definitely not okay.

You don’t have anything to feel guilty about here. You were in a vulnerable position (sad, confused, drunk) and your friend took advantage of you. He knew that you were really drunk and upset – that’s why he took you back to your dorm room. He used that to his advantage to do what he wanted, and that is absolutely not okay.

You have a few choices here. You could choose to report him to campus security or the appropriate contact at your college, or even the police, and pursue some sort of legal action. You could say something to this guy and let him know how much he messed up and hurt you and try to get the point across on your own. Or you could choose to move past it and work it out on your own without confronting the issue. I would never tell you what you SHOULD do in this case, because it is completely up to you. This is your experience and you need to do what is going to make you feel comfortable. I do think, though, that whatever you choose, you should consider speaking to a therapist about this, as talk therapy can really help with these kinds of cases. And you should definitely remove this guy from your life. Do not give him a second chance or the benefit of the doubt. Say goodbye to him, remove him from social media accounts, delete his number. You deserve friends who are there for you when you’re upset, not friends who will take advantage of you for their own gain.

Whatever you choose to do, know that nothing that went down was your fault. Sexual violence, especially on college campuses, is extremely prevalent and it is never the victim’s fault. Focus on yourself and not this guy. Good luck!

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