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Daisy

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Hi Everyone, 

 

It's been a long time since I've been on here, at least to participate. 

 

I needed a space to vent, to share something that happened this weekend, to ask questions, and mainly just because right now I am distracted by this and there's not really anyone to speak to at the moment. Or there are but I don't want to. 

 

One of my best friends was raped this weekend. Raped. 

By someone we knew. I don't think she has processed it as rape yet or even if she will. Raped. It's a big word, and so odd (I haven't a clue what word to actually describe what I'm feeling) to think that about so personally. 

 

To make matters worse another friend of ours lives in the same house as him - it's a shared house with 3 others. We'd all met up for a night out at this wacky club and when he had her alone (from us at least) he just went for it. Don't ask, but the club had a small ball pool area which was where they were - surrounded by other party goers I might add. Yes, she had been drinking and was more than a bit tipsy, yes she had kissed him earlier that night, but no she did not want it. She tried to push him off and did tell him no - but even if she hadn't because of the drink she didn't have true capacity to consent. He took complete advantage and was all smiley afterwards, the bastard. I have never seen my friend breakdown in the way that she did, it was devastating. 

Her first words to me? You'll hate me if I tell you something. Then later came the blame, I was drunk, he thought I was a slag, then what if I imagined it? 

As if you can imagine that. But I'm told it's quite a common response, even for those that hadn't had a drink. 

And yes the guy had been drinking too, but he wasn't that far gone he couldn't tell the basics. The very basics. 

 

I was shellshocked and didn't know what to do. And although my other friend and I spent yesterday coming up with a plan and getting our heads together, and I feel a lot more in control - this feeling of shock is back again at least for a little while. 

And you know, it's not the first friend to happen to. Not in this exact way but others have been attacked and assaulted in various degrees by strangers and acquaintances alike. This one just ripped home a lot harder for me - maybe because I was actually there, I don't know. Part of it is knowing this guy and just being so thrown by what he's done - and of course having to help my other friend navigate what the hell she is going to do as she currently lives in the same house as him. 

 

Anyone, anyone's thoughts? Has this happened to you or someone you know? How've you dealt with it? 

It's a timely debate what with so much being in the media and around the world on this subject. I've even been working on a media project on this exact subject of drink and s.assault, so you'd think I'd be ready to deal with it at least in a way. But nope. 

 

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:hug: I don't have any real words of advice, because I've never been in your situation. But from what you've said, I think your friend needs counselling. It sounds like she's blaming herself for what happened, and you need to get that stopped as soon as possible. From there... support her is all I can say. There's going to be a lot to go through, especially if she takes it to the police (her call on that - I can't say she should do it because from what I've heard, it's not a pleasant experience).

 

Good luck! :hug:

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I just... wow. 

 

Well. That friend of yours needs to realize what he did is punishable by law. I would suggest going up to him and making him realize what exactly he has done, but only if you still consider him as your friend. Meanwhile, I would just comfort the victim and maybe ask her if she wants to tell her family members and press charges at a later date.

 

Good luck with this... sorry I don't have better advice.

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Thanks Graeme. And yes, in part she is blaming herself. And the first thing either of us said was to counter those thoughts. And we will keep doing so. 

I can't force her to do anything, doing so would make her feel worse. But I think she will go to counselling - we found out about this organisation called The Haven and she is having an appointment there tomorrow - it's mainly for medical to begin with but if she wants support, they will offer it. 

I doubt she would report it. I asked her on the night and it was a no, but that wasn't the best of times. But even if she decided she wanted to, tomorrow would be 2 days afterwards so evidence gathering is hard and success rates of doing so are so low. 

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I just... wow. 

 

Well. That friend of yours needs to realize what he did is punishable by law. I would suggest going up to him and making him realize what exactly he has done, but only if you still consider him as your friend. Meanwhile, I would just comfort the victim and maybe ask her if she wants to tell her family members and press charges at a later date.

 

Good luck with this... sorry I don't have better advice.

 

He's not a friend, at least of mine - I'd only really met him a handful of times when I visited my other female friend's house. And he was a normal, friendly bubbly guy.  

We debated about what to do - my friend L and I (L is the girl who lives with him). But ultimately it was my friend J's decision about what we did or who she wants involved. Even though it put L in a very difficult position, and no she wants nothing to do with him. Associating with him in anyway feels like a betrayal. L is going to move out - at the very least she is staying somewhere else this week while she works out what to do. We rang a rape helpline and they basically just said that confronting him wouldnt get the results we wanted. He would either deny it or .... but that he almost certainly knew what he did. 

I suppose the shock is that people like him exist around us all. 

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Hey Daphne

 

I am so sorry. What a horrible end to a night out.

 

Look, I've never had to deal with a rape directly. I've seen the aftermath of a sexual assault through a friend of our family many years ago, and don't remember much as I was pretty young. However, I am writing about this exact thing right now, and have just been doing a lot of reading about it. I never realised how huge this situation was, it is simply quite horrific.

 

First up, it is not something that anyone can deal with alone. The feelings are simply overwhelming. You are a perfect example of this right now. You would think you have the rational knowing what you know to deal with it, but trauma is something you cannot simply shrug off. One of the most important things both of you need to do is to talk. It is hellishly hard, especially for the victim, but essential to begin the process of healing.

 

Secondly, No is No. Blame lies at the feet of the person that refused to hear the word. If your friend has said no, then her whole system of trust has just been invaded, and much the same for the rest of you. Someone you know, maybe trusted, but at the very least accepted has just violated someone you love, want to protect, and now realise could not. This will in you trigger feelings of guilt and insecurity. You will be asking yourself things like why didn't you see it coming, if only you had done this or that. How could you have not known? You will feel empathy, sympathy, rage, hate, despair. These are things you need to work through, but more so, your friend must face, deal with and overcome. For this she will need you every step of the way buddy.

 

If it is taken to the police, it is a tough world. The "he said, she said" thing is so hard on a victim. The justice system is meant to be blind, but often the case is a prosecution will not even consider a case unless there is strength in the evidence they have to take to court, and that process can make it seem that the law is just not on her side. That is horrific in itself, but even if it does go to court there is the trauma of a court case, and often this is too much for a victim to handle.

 

Look. You know all this. You've studied it all. But right now, you are feeling the raw emotion of the hurt and pain of this experience. Try if at all you can to be calm, think logically, and don't over think everything.

So easy for me to say from my bedroom.

If not already done, make sure any evidence is secured. Work out your exact plan and think it through. Iron out any kinks. Take the necessary action you need to take. Contact an advice line if you must. There must be a number you can call. 

If other people are at risk with this guy, you should seriously consider their safety, and what actions you could take to secure them. Can they stay with friends for a while? 

Is there family you can involve? If it comes down to it, your friend will need people around her she can fully trust. Friends can be fickle and chose sides unexpectedly. Family will be at her side regardless.

 

So much to think about. So much to do.

I feel for you I really do. But please. TALK. It is the only way to avoid going stir crazy.

Hugs and if you need drop me a mail any time to talk.

Rob

x

Edited by Yettie One
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Thanks Rob. 

We have been talking - talked a lot this weekend. My friend L (who lives with him) and I called RapeCrisis yesterday and they were really helpful. And if my friend who was assaulted wants to report it, she is going to a specialist centre tomorrow and if she decides to, they can take what evidence is still left, ready for if and when she wants to do so. Otherwise I'm hoping that she will at least take up their offer of counselling and support. 

Is he a danger to others? I don't know. If he's done it once then I can't see why he wouldn't do it again. My friend who lives with him doesn't fear him in that way though. However she has arranged to not be at home this week- she can't face being around him. Certainly without getting very angry. And it is a betrayal, you're right, that's what it feels like - it completely blew the wind out of us. 

In terms of her family - who she tells is up to her - that was the main message that we got from the helpline really and we already knew that instinctively. Thta having control of that after the control that was taken from her is very important. I doubt she will tell them. As much as family are supposed to love and support you unconditionally - some families are just messed up, and hers is one of them. They love her, but her mum is as likely to say the wrong thing as anything. 

Thanks. At least putting this out there has cleared my head at least temporarily. 

The figures on sex crimes are horrific. The latest crime survey has predicted that there are 1 in 5 women who are victims of sexual offences. 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/10/sex-crimes-analysis-england-wales 

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My heart goes out to you Daphne and your friends :( .

 

I can't imagine what your friend is going through and it would be silly of me to try to believe I could.

 

Two things came to light while reading through the thread that you might want to consider.

 

First is that this is effecting you and the other friend but not to the degree of the friend is the victim. Don't lose sight of your own well being. A lot of decisions will probably be made in the next couple of days that you may or may not agree with. Be supportive but don't forget that you yourself may need some counseling to negotiate your way through this quagmire of feelings and thoughts.

 

Second thing, I know a lot of the bars here in Canada now have CCTV in them in public areas. I also know that GB also is the leader in the world for cameras. Even if she doesn't want to press charges or report it, a phone call to the pub to see if they have video of the evening in question could be beneficial if at a later time you may need it. Why I say sooner then later is that with the modern recorders, they do 'overtape' disc content after certain time periods.

 

Thanks for sharing with us all, not sure you will get the answers you need, but you are talking about it which is a good thing :hug:

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Thanks, and you're right about the CCTV. It had crossed my mind. I expect the experts she is seeing tomorrow most likely will mention it if she indicates that she wants to record the evidence. The main problem though is that the event we were at was unusual and in an unusual building that I doubt they had CCTV like most other places or certainly as much of it. It's possibly worth a shot though. 

 

And I will look after myself, you're right :)

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Not much can be said that hasn't already. You and your friend have my condolences, and I'm glad you're standing firmly by your friend, trying to help her through this. I hope she does gather the courage to report it, and follow through with it, as such acts deserve to be punished--especially so if the person showed no remorse.

 

Good luck and Gott bless. o/

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:hug: I don't have any real words of advice, because I've never been in your situation. But from what you've said, I think your friend needs counselling. It sounds like she's blaming herself for what happened, and you need to get that stopped as soon as possible. From there... support her is all I can say. There's going to be a lot to go through, especially if she takes it to the police (her call on that - I can't say she should do it because from what I've heard, it's not a pleasant experience).

 

Good luck! :hug:

 

You are right that it's her call, but I'd say she should.  It's probably going to about as pleasant as a root canal, without anesthetic  but it's still important.

 

Worst case scenario, there's insufficient evidence to 'do' anything but the guy gets a mark on his record.  A mark that may help one day, when a pattern starts to emerge.

 

But there's the opportunity for much more than that.  I did a fair bit of research when I was writing The Guardians, and one thing I read really stuck in my mind.  Many rapists try to use the trial as an opportunity to rape the victim again -- and the article in question strongly urges women to use the trial to rape the rapist back.  Look him in the eye, metaphorically spit in his face, and call the bastard on his behavior.  Make the trial an exercise in your power over him.  If nothing else, he's not going to be happy being called in and called a rapist -- and she did it to him.  It's a way to regain power.  Which is the important thing to remember in cases of rape: it's about power.  Having power taken from you, and if you want to recover, go take that power back.

 

The road to recovery is long, and much like an addicts, it's fraught with pitfalls.  It's not about getting to a place where you've 'dealt' with the rape.  It's about putting one foot in front of the other, putting it behind you and dealing with it.  Days will come when everything falls apart, but you'll climb back up that much faster.  That much better, stronger.

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I can add nothing new. Just take care of your friend and yourself. And report this Basterd, even if anonymously. If a sexual offender is not punished in the first time, he will repeat this act again. May be not now, not even in the next twenty years, but he will.  Rilbur, Graeme, Yettie have all pointed out important factors. Keep those in mind. FYI in the UK a mere touch to the vulva by penis constitutes rape and the establishment can also be charged as accomplishes since they did not intervene even after seeing the act via CCTV. Your lawyer will explain more. It will be difficult to prove rape physically as more time passes by, for obvious reasons. So, if she intends to bring it up in court, she will need to get the physical examination ASAP. Lastly, the whole situation is taking a toll on her mind as well as yours, as Rilbur and Yettie both most eloquently put out. Don't ignore your own trauma. Get help. I am very disappointed learning about her family, but hardly surprised. The attitude regarding woman and their safety seem to be very same all over the world. If your friend intends to take it to court, remind her it is going to be a dirty affair and the opposition lawyer will not be merciful. It will be like getting raped again. I know, harsh words, but that's the truth. I will just repeat an old med school dictum and I ask you to keep it in mind, "Rape is an offense easy to make, hard to prove and harder to disprove." I personally want that scoundrel to suffer through the rest of his life. May God be with you. And may that abomination gets pay back soon.

 

I am here for both of you. Drop me a line if you need to talk.

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Speaking from personal experience, it takes a long time to get over something like this. The police, reputedly, are not as bad as they used to be. If she doesn't report what he did, what is to stop him doing the same thing to somebody else? Or to her - again? I'm sorry to have to say that, but sometimes people do that - like child abuse, if the victim doesn't do anything about it, the rapist takes it as a sign that what they did was okay, even welcome.

I feel that reporting the crime will make her feel more in control of events and that is what she needs right now. What else she needs is to give up drinking more than a couple of drinks when she goes out. I know it's not fair - but a sober woman is more in control of a situation than a drunk man.

Also, self-defence classes could help. Feeling that you can deal with being physically assaulted is helpful - also doing something like that with your body helps you get back into it after you feel it's, kind of, been taken away from you.

All the best to you.

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Thanks everyone. And I'm sorry to hear Alex that you've got personal experience with the subject, but thank you for sharing. I appreciate it. 

I've seen her tonight. She's not going to report it, for several reasons. One of the main is that the success rate is so low and so the agony of the process would be too much for her, a natural coping mechanism of her's is to bury things and so going through that process is keeping it alive.  Secondly, she is now doubting herself about what exactly happened. He DEFINITELY sexually assaulted her and she remembers the horrifying realization that he was going to take it further and stopping struggling as it seemed pointless as she couldn't budge him, but at that point she has a blank part to her memory. Whether that's alcohol, the trauma, whatever. And so she is not sure that he did penetrate her with more than his hand. She feels that if she was 100% confident he did rape her she would go to the police. I've tried to point out to her that the sexual assault on it's own is more than enough to go to the police with, but it's what she'd decided. 

However, the guy is rattled. He knows that we know what happened, that he hasn't got away scott free and doesnt know what we intend to do. And my friend has given her permission for him and the others that live in the house to be confronted and told about what happened - so he won't get away with it completely. She won't be involved, she never wants to be near him ever again, but she does want others to know. 

The main issue is the blame she is feeling. She does know logically that the blame lays squarely with him, but she is berating herself for drinking even a bit, and also she kissed him earlier in the night, something she wouldnt have done without alcohol, but never an invitation to rape. She feels that she could possibly have avoided the situation if not for these factors. And she is worried that if people know they will think her a slag. She knows that the main issue is trust, but what does that mean for trusting people in the future. People constantly are in situations where someone could take advantage, you can;t guard against all of them neither should you have to. 

Edited by Daphne
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Just in case your friend changes her mind, there is a UK government website she might find helpful [http://thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk]:

"The word "rape" is often associated with a violent assault by a stranger, but the fact is that in most cases the attacker is someone who the victim knows and may even trust such as a friend, partner or someone from school/college/work."

"Rape is when a male forces his penis into the mouth, anus or vagina of another person when that person doesn't want him to do so; the law calls this 'without consent'."

There's also a short video "If you could see yourself would you see rape?"

My understanding of the law is that intercourse could lawfully start but later become unlawful if the person penetrated says "no" and communicates this sufficiently clearly [words and/or actions] but the guy continued. However, if the guy was at the point where the physiological reflex has taken over then that probably would not apply.

So, if this goes to law, two things would have to be proved by your friend to the satisfaction of the jury [well, by her barrister]:
Did the act - intercourse - take place? [your friend now seems unclear on this]
Did your friend revoke consent at the time and make this sufficiently clear?

There are some difficulties:
1/ The burden of proof is on the person penetrated - and they must prove the above "beyond reasonable doubt". That is a very high hurdle.
2/ Drink affects people in different ways. It is a powerful drug that can seriously affect mood and personality. Or not. A few people exhibit very little change in mood and personality. But however alcohol affects you, it will impair your judgment, whether you are driving a car, making business decisions, or your interaction with others. And the more you have drunk the more seriously that judgment will be impaired. You said both your friend and the guy had been drinking. How much? And how was this drug affecting them at that time?
3/ The defence would also focus on:
- your friend's communication of "no", for example did she physically resist? [scratch marks and traces of his skin under her fingernails would be key evidence here]
- your friend's recollection and the veracity of her evidence [bearing in mind, in particular, the effects of alcohol and her memory "blanks"]
- the fact that, as you said, this happened in front of other people - third party testimony would again be key evidence [for both your friend and the guy] as would be the absence of such evidence [defence would focus on why no-one noticed this if there was resistance].
- how alcohol affects your friend and how she was affected at the time
- the potentially misleading signals you mentioned.

Finally, if your friend reports this she has to be completely honest and consistent. What I mean by this is she will be asked a lot of intrusive questions by people wanting a level of detail that she might have difficulty with. If she is unable to answer a question - for example her memory "blanks" - she must make this clear. There must be no elaboration because she will be tested in court to the severest degree and any inconsistencies with previous statements will be used to undermine her.

Sorry if this unhelpful but your friend needs to be aware. And if she needs more counselling than the love and support you can provide then the above website has lots of suggestions and contact details. Good luck to you both :)

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This topic has now been unlocked. If you do not have a helpful comment, please refrain from posting. This subject matter has both serious physical and mental repercussions for all parties involved and due consideration for that should be applied when commenting.

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Thanks Cia. 
Zombie, there maybe differences in the country that you are from about the law surrounding rape and sexual assault. 
Obviously proving anything of this nature is hard without evidence that needs to be gathered asap before it disappears forever. 
However, here in the UK, the law is pretty clear that the issue of consent is something that the man (or aggressor) must have clearly reasoned. If he can't prove that then they are on dodgy ground. Drinking can mean that the person is unlikely to have the capacity to consent - they must have thought about this. If they haven't then that can be considered to be unreasonable and the charge can still go ahead. 
As for resistance, this does not need to have happened for it to be rape or sexual assault - lack of resistance does not mean there is consent. A lot of people freeze when they are in this situation, it is a natural reaction. 
 
Here is some more information for you:
 
Current legal definition of rape
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the Act) came into force on the 1st May 2004. The purpose of the Act was to strengthen and modernise the law on sexual offences, whilst improving preventative measures and the protection of individuals from sexual offenders. The Act extends the definition of rape to include the penetration by a penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person. The 2003 Act also changes the law about consent and belief in consent.
The word "consent" in the context of the offence of rape is now defined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. A person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The essence of this definition is the agreement by choice. The law does not require the victim to have resisted physically in order to prove a lack of consent. The question of whether the victim consented is a matter for the jury to decide, although the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers this issue very carefully throughout the life of the case.
What is sexual (indecent) assault?
Sexual assault is an act of physical, psychological and emotional violation, in the form of a sexual act, which is inflicted on someone without consent. It can involve forcing or manipulating someone to witness or participate in any sexual acts, apart from penetration of the mouth with the penis, the penetration of anus or vagina (however slight) with any object or the penis, which is rape.
 
 
Under section 1(1) SOA 2003 a defendant, A, is guilty of rape if:
_ A intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of B (the complainant) with his penis;
_ B does not consent to the penetration; and,
_ A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
 
For the offence of rape to have been committed the defendant must have penetrated you without your consent, or continued to penetrate you after you withdrew your consent, and the defendant must not have reasonably believed that you were consenting. (my bold).
 
 
What is the definition of consent?
The Act has three important provisions relating to consent. They are:

  • A statutory definition of consent
  • The test of reasonable belief in consent
  • The evidential and conclusive presumptions about consent and the defendant's belief in consent

Section 74 defines consent as "if she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice" .
 
Deciding whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents (subsection (2) of sections 1-4). It is likely that this will include a defendant's attributes, such as disability or extreme youth. This is a major change in the law and the Act abolishes the Morgan defence of a genuine though unreasonably mistaken belief as to the consent of the complainant. It means that the defendant (A) has the responsibility to ensure that ( B) consents to the sexual activity at the time in question. It will be important for the police to ask the offender in interview what steps he took to satisfy him that the complainant consented.
 
 
What are the common defences to rape?
There are 3 defences to rape:

  • Nothing happened
  • It wasn't me
  • She consented

Because of DNA fingerprinting, we are getting much fewer of the first two defences and much more of defence three.
Because of the Morgan ruling in the mid 1970s, to convict a man of rape first of all, the prosecution had to convince the jury beyond reasonable doubt that the woman was not consenting. Whether he was guilty or not depended on whether or not he thought she was consenting - what was going on in his head - not what was happening to her body. This was the "Morgan" rule which says that a man is not guilty of rape if he believed she was consenting NO MATTER HOW UNREASONABLE THAT BELIEF.
 
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced the concept of 'reasonable steps'. Deciding whether a belief is reasonable is done by considering any steps he has taken to ascertain whether she consented (subsection (2) of sections 1-4).
This is a major change in the law and the Act abolishes the Morgan defence of a genuine though unreasonably mistaken belief as to consent.
http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/Definitionofrape2.php
(the consent applies to the other sexual offences too). 
 
In terms of who would argue the case in court - that would be the CPS. They decide if the case (with the women's agreement) goes to court. 
 
What is the woman's role in the court?
The woman's role is as a witness for the prosecution and as such she is not represented by legal counsel.
Is she represented in court?
Not at present. In Ireland, representation of the woman has just started. If they can do it we can do it, as the legal systems are very similar.
 
 
Myth The women was drunk / took drugs / had a bad reputation / was hitch hiking / wore tight clothes / seduced him / probably got what she was asking for.
Fact If a person is unconscious or their judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent. Having non-consensual sex with a person who is intoxicated is sexual assault.
 
 
That video you referenced is in our cinemas at the moment - in the adverts before a film. It is quite provocative, hopefully people will take notice and think.
 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YPC-Q2NMwJw

 

C

Edited by Daphne
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I don't see substantive differences between my post and yours except when you say: "If a person('s) ... judgement is impaired by alcohol or drugs, legally they are unable to give consent." Alcohol will, of course, always impair judgment but not always to the extent that consent cannot be given. In the facts you gave us you stated that your friend said she was "more than a bit tipsy". Obviously there's a whole spectrum of intoxication but being in the area of "tipsy" doesn't seem sufficient. Consider the Crown Prosecution Service's latest policy statement on prosecuting rape cases: "People who have consumed alcohol may reach such a level of drunkenness that they no longer have the capacity to give consent." What does this mean? My interpretation - and you may disagree - is that this wording indicates that a serious level of intoxication is required in order to prevent capacity to give consent. But, as I said in my earlier post, alcohol affects different people in different ways so even if she had drunk a lot and was seriously intoxicated then this would also need to be evident in order to satisfy the reasonableness test.

In which case your friend would have had to communicate at the time that she did not consent. You'll note I didn't say physical resistance was "required". I said that intercourse "become(s) unlawful if the person penetrated says "no" and communicates this sufficiently clearly (by) words and/or actions ..." and later on I merely gave scratching as an example of physical action. I could also have given examples of verbal communication, such as "no!" or "stop it!" or "get off me!" or any number of verbal responses but the phrase I used - "sufficiently clearly" - seemed to me to be sufficiently clear to cover this and if it wasn't then I trust it is now.

The CPS policy statement actually considers this point in some detail: "Proving the absence of consent is usually the most difficult part of a rape prosecution, and is the most common reason for a rape case to fail. Prosecutors will look for evidence such as injury, struggle, or immediate distress to help them prove that the victim did not consent, but frequently there may be no such corroborating evidence. This does not mean that these cases can never be successfully prosecuted, but it does mean that they are more difficult. In the absence of any other evidence to help prove the victim did not consent, there is the possibility that some cases may fail to meet the evidential stage of the Code for Crown Prosecutors". In other words, such cases may never even get to trial.

None of my posts is intended to pass judgment on your friend's experience or to play barrack room lawyer. I merely felt you might find it relevant to have some of the hurdles highlighted should your friend later decide to go to law. I'm also passing no judgment on the fairness or otherwise of current UK law or CPS policy. And as the thread was titled "Rape" I've only posted in respect of rape.

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