Editor's note: The opinion piece below contains graphic content that may be triggering for survivors of sexual misconduct or assault. There are on-campus and off-campus resources listed at the bottom of this article if support is needed.
The amount of “Timely Warning” emails received on this campus that state that a person has been sexually assaulted and “the victim knew the attacker” is unbelievable. Although it may not be unique to our campus, this commonality of assaults is not only overlooked. Many people in our campus community also distance these acts from themselves with thoughts like, “I would never do that” and, “How could you be friends with someone who could hurt you?”
How then do these attacks from people we know, people we could be friends with, happen? How do people continue to sexually assault their friends? I watched how. I watched someone make excuses to continue making sexual advances on a friend, despite the friend’s intoxication, despite others conveying concern for her ability to give consent, despite this someone’s acknowledgement that yes, the friend was really drunk. All the while, saying that he didn’t want to be “that guy,” and finding sick reasons to continue advancing.
So this is a letter to those of you who say, as you make advances on your too-drunk friends, that you don’t want to be “that guy, but…”
To those of you who acknowledge that your friend is a little “stumbly” but choose to take advantage of your friend’s body despite the clear physical signs that your friend is too drunk rather than help your friend home to their bed, and their bed alone, you are “that guy.”
To those of you who think that even though your friend is drunk, but because you’ve hooked up before that it’s okay to have sex despite an inability to give coherent consent -- it’s not. It’s not okay. Having sex before does not give you the right to supersede consent this time. You are “that guy.”
To those of you who think that being not only friends, but in a relationship, is justification enough to overlook any sign, statement, action or level of intoxication and in any way take advantage of your significant other, I am offended you claim to care for this person, to be their significant other. You are assaulting them. You are “that guy.”
To those of you who say you’ll just wait 30 minutes, maybe an hour, and then your friend will be in the right place to say yes to you: Why are you creepily waiting around for your friend to not be so blackout that maybe then, just maybe, you’ll get to have sex with them? You are “that guy.” You want to have sex that badly? Go masturbate. You can take care of that on your own.
To those of you who say your friend “seems into it” and disregard your friend’s intoxication and inability to give consent, you are ignoring the biggest of reasons, the most obvious of signs that you are crossing lines. If you actually listened, you’d see your friend is not “into it.” You are choosing to put your selfish desires and your horniness above the wishes, autonomy and safety of someone you call your friend. You are “that guy.”
To those of you who say you didn’t know your friend was that drunk, stop lying to yourself. Stop lying to me. Stop lying to everyone else. Being too drunk is not a fact you happen upon during or after sex -- it’s not some secret STD. You are choosing to have sex with someone despite seeing them stumble, hearing their words slur, watching them have drink after drink after drink. You are “that guy.”
Since August of 2019, there have already been more than 15 sex crimes reported to URPD. In an email from Beth Simonds, assistant chief of police for the University of Richmond Police Department, she wrote that in most of these cases the victim and offender had known each other prior to the crime.
As you walk across campus among friends, these victims walk among their attackers, their “friends.” And every day you walk by that “friend.” That “friend” isn’t a friend at all. It is an attacker. Is that attacker a friend of yours?
Is that attacker you?
I ask you, are you that guy?
Contact news writer Cate Bonner at email@example.com.
Confidential on-campus resources for survivors of sexual assault are CAPS (CAPS@richmond.edu or call 804-289-8119), ordained members at the Office of the Chaplaincy (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 804-289-8500), PSMAs (email@example.com or call/text 804-346-7674), CARE Advocates (firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 804-801-6251) and the Student Health Center (email@example.com or call 804-289-8700). The Greater Richmond Sexual Assault Hotline, available 24/7, can be reached at 804-612-6126. Survivors can also seek help off-campus at St. Mary’s Hospital or Safe Harbor.
Non-confidential resources include the Title IX deputy coordinator, the university police department, the Office of Common Ground and the Richmond and Westhampton college deans’ offices.