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Response to rape victim stirs anger

December 17, 2009

Dear Amy: I am absolutely appalled at your answer to a recent letter from "Victim? In Virginia."

This letter was from a college student who got drunk at a frat party and was then raped by a guy she met there.

You didn't even seem to care about what happened to this young person.

Did it even occur to you that she might have been drugged at this party? You were more focused on blaming her for drinking than answering her question in a responsible way.

I am disgusted at your answer and think you owe her an apology.

Disgusted

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 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.

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.

::

Dear Amy: We are writing to you in response to the "Worried Fifth-Grader," who was part of a group of girls having trouble negotiating over playing kickball with boys at recess.

We are a fifth-grade class in Seattle and we have some advice and solutions for "Worried."

"Worried," you should go back to the teacher who helped you originally. He should watch your game again and help you work together.

You could also organize a kickball meeting. Anyone that plays kickball would be invited, and the recess teacher and a school counselor would supervise the meeting. The goal of this meeting would be to establish a set of rules that girls and boys agreed with and that are fair to everyone playing.

Your class should post the rules on the wall, nearest to where the game is played. Then if the rules are questioned, they can look at the poster.

5B Class ASB School,

Seattle

Dear 5B Class: You kids are so smart! Your suggestions are excellent.

Send questions to Amy Dickinson by e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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