Friend or stranger, we owe it to each other to get involved
I was at a college party with a friend and didn’t know anyone else there. The host, “Anna”, was very drunk by the time I had arrived, only making brief appearances between trips to the bathroom and her bedroom. I heard commotion outside Anna’s bedroom door. A few guys were standing outside the door. They were laughing about how easy it would be for “Andrew” to “get laid”, because Anna was “blacked out.” They were standing guard of the door, as many people stood around laughing or seemingly unaffected by what was happening. I felt uncomfortable. A part of me felt that despite my anger and clear understanding that what was happening was wrong, that there were better people to intervene. These weren’t people that I knew. I was hoping that Anna’s friends would step in. A few minutes passed. I swallowed my fear and walked back the hallway, sternly asking the guys in front of the door what was happening. They looked uneasy and offered varying stories, including “It is just a joke” and “It is no big deal, we’re all friends; Anna doesn’t mind.” I told them to move, and they did. The door was unlocked and I entered. Andrew was startled and I told him to leave. He appeared embarrassed, attempting to justify his intentions by explaining that “She’s ok” and “I didn’t do anything.” Anna appeared to be only limitedly awake and coherent. She held my hand and said “I didn’t want to do it. You saved my life. You saved my life.” As my college years continued, many of my friends and classmates would share similar stories, often referring to the people perpetrating these actions as “friends." Friends do not force or coerce each other into unwanted sex. Friends do not find humor or vulnerability in one’s inability to give consent. Friends do not stand by and say that it is not their responsibility to intervene. Friend or stranger, uncomfortable or not, we are responsible to help each other. We are responsible to say that sexual violence, in any context, is not ok.