Mallory Ortberg responds to a victim-blaming essay by Elizabeth Ellen regarding two recent stories of rape and statutory rape in the literary community. (see http://gawker.com/hip-alt-lit-editor-quits-public-writing-career-after-ra-1640785729 for more background.)
"The first time I said No, the first time I turned my head away, the first time I crossed my arms over my chest and walked away, the first time I said “What are you doing?”, the first time I displayed a clear and obvious distaste for what was being done to me rather than with me should have been enough. That expectation — that the person saying No should be prepared at any moment to fight someone else off – is an undue burden."
I would argue that if a person has committed rape; if a person has sought to overwhelm and override the will of another person in order to physically and emotionally dominate them, then bringing the rape to light is in fact the best possible thing that can happen to that rapist. It is better to bring rape to light then to hide it. It is better to apologize for a crime committed against another person than to try to pretend it never happened. You cannot apologize until after it has been acknowledged that you did something wrong. You cannot be redeemed until you have admitted you need redeeming. You cannot move on before you pay for something. Someone’s life can never be ruined because they were forced to publicly acknowledge that they committed rape.
You can ruin your own life when you rape someone else. You have ruined your own life from the inside out.
I do believe that it is possible for many people — for most people — to be redeemed for what they have done wrong. But forgiveness cannot come first. Forgiveness can never come before the hard work of acknowledging, of atoning, of apologizing, of enduring punishment, of changing.
see also, for definition of sexual assault and consent: http://www.care.uci.edu/general/Sexual-Assault---Defining.aspx