When a high school student denied raping this girl at a party, she shared screenshots of their conversations
While we’ve all been preoccupied with high profile sexual assault allegations and the #MeToo movement, the story of a teenage girl, Lauren Atkin, who was raped at a high school party, located in Oklahoma, somehow slipped through our Twitter feeds. Lauren Atkins’ story was first reported on by Babe.net and hit the internet in late November. Nearly a month later, it’s still circulating, because the alleged circumstances are just that frustrating, and really sum up just how perverse rape culture can be.
Atkins attended a party thrown by her classmates last spring that was meant to be a “practice run” for college, according to the initial report. The high schoolers got a ton of alcohol, planned a party, and tried on their “upperclassmen” best. Early in the evening, Lauren caught up with an old crush of hers, named Adam (names were reportedly changed in the Babe.net story). They talked about how Adam was a virgin, snapchatted their convos and beer pong games. At some point, Lauren got really sick and went to go puke in her friend’s bathroom, attached to her bedroom. A few friends tended to her, and eventually Adam came up, too. Somehow, they ended up on the bed together. Lauren alleges that she was unconscious and woke up to him penetrating her.
When the party wrapped up around 1:30 a.m, Atkins went downstairs and actually wrote herself a note in her phone. ““*** nme while unconscious help duse im i coincidence *** just fucking raped me!!!! Oh my fucking god!!!! Its 1:16 and i got duckimg rape u!!! No onebeliveed uu gpt raped by *** u couldnt say no u wete so drunk ur so fucked up u got RAPED.”
Yes, there are typos. But there’s no mistaking the message. Atkins was raped. In the morning, she and Adam exchanged text messages, in which he attempted to convince her that what happened was consensual, while Lauren insisted, over and over again, and correctly, that she was drunk and therefore could not consent. He continues to worry about the fact that she might accuse him of rape and that he lost his virginity and can’t remember it. He insisted that she had expressed sexual interest in him earlier in the evening, and therefore felt like it was open invitation. At one point, he wrote to her:
"What the fuck… I’m so sorry Lauren why didn’t you tell me to leave. Fuck I fucked up I’m so sorry, you can’t hold it against me. Wait fuck no, I remember asking you while I wasn’t so drunk if you wanted to fuck and you said yes."
Lauren did the right thing: She saved every message. And then she told her friends, her family, and the police. However, law enforcement, after speaking to just one friend and not even interviewing Adam, has chosen to not go forward and prosecute the case.
Are you angry yet?
At one point, Adam texted a group message to friends, trying to make amends for the scandal swirling around their school. Babe reported:
"Six days after the party, on May 18, Adam sent a message explaining his side to his teammates in a group chat of less than 10 people. Screenshots of the text spread quickly, including to Lauren, who forwarded them to the police because they seem to contain an important admission: that Lauren was extremely drunk when the alleged rape took place. Adam told his team Lauren “was too drunk to remember giving consent, and says “'I’m not saying what I did was ok.'"
That is an important thing, since Oklahoma’s consent law centers around someone being able to give sober, enthusiastic consent before any sexual act. When you read Lauren’s story, and you really should read it all, since the text messages alone are infuriating, one thing really stands out: This boy, and adults in law enforcement, just don’t care to learn about consent. And they seem to think that if alcohol is involved, a woman’s body is fair game.
As of right now, Lauren’s case is allegedly closed, though she and her family plan on continuing the fight. Meanwhile, she’s been busy planning fundraisers in her community, collecting money for consent classes to be given in her school district’s middle school. How a victim handles her assault is personal and every one has their own way of dealing with the trauma.
Lauren’s courage and clear thinking directly after the incident and her persistence in sharing the screenshots of her and Adam’s conversations are remarkable though. It’s sad that Lauren felt she had to have screenshots to prove that something happened at that high school party. And it’s tragic that even with Adam allegedly admitting to his crime, no one in law enforcement is listening to her. Changing the very sexist culture of victim blaming is going to entail a lot more than just hashtag campaigns, and Lauren’s refusal to quiet down and keep sharing her story is part of that change.