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Living in Kansas...

Grey area rape

It is a widely held belief that you get "real rapes" and then those that fall into the "grey area". The idea of grey area rape is bourn out of the way that society has constructed rape - as a violent act carried out by a stranger. This understanding of rape has been built around rape supportive myths and does not reflect the experiences of survivors.

If there can be a half-rape or a grey area rape then it follows that it must be possible to give half-consent. The idea that there is grey area consent however clearly makes no sense. Either someone has consented, willingly and actively without coercion, or they have not. If a person freely and willingly wants to have sex with someone then it is clear. If it is not clear, then that person does not have consent - there is no grey area.

There are many factors that people use to define a grey-area rape such as being drunk, flirting, being in a relationship with the perpetrator, not fighting enough or not fighting at all. However there is no such things as a 'rapeable offence' - being drunk/dressed in a certain way/doing a certain job/being intimate with a person/alone with a person/having slept with them before does not make rape inevitable or acceptable.

Rape is not defined by the behaviour of the victim but by the actions of the perpetrator. A person either consented to sexual activity or they did not and if they did not then this is rape there is no grey about it.

Feeling like you are living in a grey area can be incredibly hard. Constantly wondering if what happened to you counts as rape/abuse/sexual assault or not can leave you feeling tired, guilty, stressed and depressed. You may feel like you are constantly putting yourself on trial - running things through your head again and again trying to find answers. You may experience incredible self-blame leading to self-hatred as you question what happened to you. Working through these doubts is hard and painful, but you have already survived so much. You deserve to be believed, to believe in yourself and to heal.
I do not believe that there is such a thing as a gray area when it comes to any type of sexual abuse - it all counts and it all hurts.  Male or female, stranger or partner, date or acquaintance, child or adult, drunk or sober - it is all serious and it is all traumatic. If you have experienced any form of unwanted sexual contact then you have been sexually assaulted and you deserve to be here and you deserve to heal.

Check the Cyclones page for more about what rape is, also Alice Vacch's terrific article,
All Rape is Real Rape. 
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