By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Jun 26, 2024
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Cite this Response

Alice! Health Promotion. "Does my friend think she was raped?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 26 Jun. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/does-my-friend-think-she-was-raped. Accessed 22, Jul. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, June 26). Does my friend think she was raped?. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/does-my-friend-think-she-was-raped.

Dear Alice,

You have an excellent service and give great advice. That is why I feel comfortable asking you this question. About three weeks ago, a group of my friends and I went out to a movie and then a club where we each had some alcohol. After the club, we went back to a friend's room where the group gradually dispersed until there was only myself, two male friends, and one female friend. We began to play sex games. Eventually, we all were naked, on my friend's bed. The female of the group was the center of our activity. She seemed to want it and even encouraged what the three of us started doing to her.

Although we all were tipsy, it was a great sexual experience for all of us, or so I thought. My two male friends have no problem with what happened. The only thing is that my female friend won't speak to us or return any of our calls. I saw her walking down the street the other day and tried to talk to her, but she wouldn't even raise her head to look me in the eye. Do you have any idea what is wrong? Could my friend feel that she was raped? I want to apologize, but I'm not sure what to do.

— What's going on????

Dear What's going on????, 

Group sex can be tricky to navigate, especially if there’s little to no discussion beforehand about boundaries, consent, and comfort levels. That said, it’s possible that your friend may feel that she was raped or was uncomfortable with the experience she had.  

To better understand her perspective, it may be helpful to reflect on the situation. You mentioned that “she seemed to want it.” How did she indicate this? Although she may not have said “no,” either verbally or nonverbally, this doesn’t mean she said “yes.” You also mentioned that she “even encouraged what the three of us started doing to her,” which may imply a one-sided situation of doing something to her, rather than with her. If it was one-sided, it may be that her consent was not freely given, especially if she felt pressured into providing consent. While you note that everyone was “tipsy,” it may have been the case that some people were more intoxicated or incapacitated than others. If she was incapacitated, she wouldn’t have been able to freely give consent due to her impaired state. Additionally, if she wasn’t incapacitated but was more intoxicated than others, there may have been a power dynamic in which she felt coerced into performing group sex. 

While these are different possibilities as to what she may be feeling, the only person who truly knows is her. Before reaching out to her, it might be helpful to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Consider the following strategies when planning what you’re going to say: 

  • Reach out from a place of concern and support 
  • Avoid language that’s defensive or accusatory 
  • Offer to meet up in a space that she may be more comfortable in whether that be in-person or virtually 
  • Avoid offering solutions, and instead, openly listen to her perspective 

You mentioned wanting to apologize. Is this to ease your own emotions towards the situation or to provide her with comfort and support? If she did think it was sexual assault, are you prepared to support how she might handle the situation? Understanding your intentions before entering the conversation may be helpful in guiding your interaction towards a respectful and empathetic conversation. That said, if she continues to avoid you and your friends, that also should be respected. She may not be ready to talk now, and it’s also possible she may never be. If she continues to set those boundaries, respecting them and giving her space may be the only option. 

All this to say, yes, it’s possible that your friend may feel that she was raped, uncomfortable, embarrassed, or regretful of the situation. If she continues to decline your attempts at speaking with her, it can still be helpful to reflect on why things may have ended the way they did to avoid getting involved in a similar situation in the future. For example, in the future, having a conversation before having group sex might be beneficial to clearly receive consent and set boundaries for each participating individual. Additionally, limiting alcohol or drug use beforehand for all parties involved may reduce the potential for miscommunication or varying interpretations of consent. Finally, practicing aftercare, such as checking-in, reflecting on emotions, and talking about what went well—or didn’t—, can create an open channel of communication between all parties involved. 

Hopefully this helps you navigate both current and future group sex situations.

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