27-year-old Amber Amour is a New York activist whose work centers on creating a culture of sexual consent and empowering sexual assault victims to report their assaults. Her first experience with sexual violence came at age 12, and she began her work in 2014 after being sexually assaulted by a roommate and finding the rape reporting to be incredibly traumatic.
I’ll never forget calling 911 and reporting my assault — only for eight male officers to turn up at my door. I was like, ‘OK, I said the rapist wasn’t here, so I don’t need eight of you, and at least send one woman, please?’ I don’t think they realised how traumatic it is for a survivor.
But then it got worse. One of the officers asked me if I was ‘sure’ that my rapist had known I meant no. ‘Maybe he thought you meant yes,’ he said. I remember looking down at his wedding ring and thinking, ‘if your wife says no, do you keep on going? Do you disregard that?’. Then, after all that, they ended up dismissing the court case anyway.
Amour recently took her ‘Stop Rape. Educate’ tour to South Africa where she was raped while showering with a man. Shortly after she uploaded a photo to Instagram, with a caption detailing the incident.
We must warn that the description is very graphic.
It was only a few minutes ago but sometimes these things happen so fast it’s hard to remember all the details.… I’ve been sick for the past 2 days and today was my first day out. I went back to my old hostel to leave a note for a friend, Nick. There was another guy there, Shakir, who was desperately trying to get with me. I kissed him once but he seemed drunk so I told him it was bad timing, I had already met someone. Before heading out, I went upstairs to say hi to one more friend, Clyde from the states. Shakir followed me upstairs and said he was going to take a shower. He invited me to join. I said yes because the water at my current hostel is pretty cold and after 2 days of being sick, I just really wanted a hot shower. As soon as I got in the bathroom, he forced me to my knees. I said “stop!” but he just got more violent. He lifted me up and put his penis in my vagina. I asked him to stop, again, as I began to cry. When he shoved it in my ass, that’s when I passed out. I woke up a few minutes later and saw him trying to creep out the door. When he saw that I was awake, he came back to finish me off in the shower. I have all those fucked up feelings that we get after rape…shame, disgust, suffering. I’m here, alone, and any DNA has been wiped away in the shower. The South African police will just roll their eyes when I walk in. Feeling sicker than ever now. Needless today, I’m going to disappear for a bit. Just need to enjoy the freaking sun and call my friends and family in the states. Love you guys. Thank you for always being there for me. All the more reason to continue @stoprapeeducate but not today. Today, I need rest. #StopRapeEducate
In an article on Marie Claire, Amour explains why she chose to include all the details, perhaps despite knowing they would cast her as unsympathetic or lacking credibility.
I immediately knew that I couldn’t keep what had happened a secret. Here I was, telling survivors every single day that they should speak up… I knew I had to practise what I preached. So the first thing I did was take a picture and write a post, describing what had happened.
It was almost an intuitive thing. I was still in the bathroom — in the crime scene. I don’t even think I’d stood up. I just typed and typed.
I told the story truthfully — I wanted to convey the message that no matter what a person does, they do not deserve rape, they did not ask for it, they did not put themselves in a situation. There were definitely details I could have left out — there were definitely details I wanted to leave out — but I knew that if I wanted to create a culture of consent, I had to tell the whole story, exactly the way it happened.
Amour also uploaded a photo of herself at the hospital doing a rape kit.
My view of the rape kit. Thank you all for being so loving & supportive during this time. Your messages pushed me to take action and to stand up for myself and for all rape survivors. For those who wish to BLAME ME or any other survivor out there, I want you to know that you are the very reason that I am so brutally honest. I could have hidden details. I could have kept some info to myself, but NO. You need to know the truth and to see the reality of the situation. No matter what a person does, it is not an invitation for rape. It doesn’t matter if I kissed him. It doesn’t matter if he was drunk. It doesn’t matter if I said yes to a shower. I never said he could get violent with me. I never said he could make me bleed. I never said he could rape me. But still, that’s how the scene went down. I don’t need to explain myself but if you’re wondering WHY I took a shower with him, it was written in the text, I’d been sick with food poisoning for 2 days and needed to sweat it out. My current place of residence has only cold water (third world problems are real!) and it seemed like a miracle to be offered a hot shower. That’s not what he was there for though, because as soon as he got a chance, he threw me to the ground and had his way. Dealing with rape is hard enough but the aftermath is often even more traumatic but I did this for you and I did this for me. The US Embassy and the South African police are super supportive and he may be arrested as soon as this week. Thank you for the love. And for the victim blamers, I send love, peace, and enlightenment to you so that you may be a beacon of light for us, too.
Now, as you can imagine, Amour’s story has been a lightning rod online. She has been accused of everything from making up the story to promote her cause, putting herself in a position to be raped to discrediting other victims of sexual assault by publicizing what many feel is a sketchy story. However, the discussion has shone a bright light on expectations of women versus men in the aftermath of sexual violence. Rape survivors and anti-rape activists have spoken up to explain exactly why these beliefs are problematic. Names have been withheld to protect identity.
1. Consenting to a shower is not the same thing as consenting to sex.
PERHAPS she wanted to take a shower with him because she liked him? She consented to the shower but she did NOT consent to sex. I can consent to one thing and then say no to sex. If you pursue sex anyway against my wishes then that is rape.
If even women cannot understand that there aren’t exceptions to the concept of consent, then there really is no hope for men.
2. The discussion around Amour’s story suggests that many believe certain situations JUSTIFY rape and there is a point beyond which men cannot control themselves, and will have no choice but to rape. Thus the victim, and not the rapist, is held accountable for her assault.
The question isn’t why did she take a shower with him. The question is why would he rape her. Likely because he could. There are no consequences and even women blame/shame the victim.
Wow are we so badly trained to look at what SHE could have done differently instead of that HE is a monster? Craziness…women always have to change/do something different but the men can just simply be monsters and that’s cool.
We live in a world where people blame victims for their own rapes instead of the rapists who violated their bodies.
He FORCED HIMSELF into her body and you really are telling me that she is responsible for that?
3. When it comes to the timeline for reporting rape it’s ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. Amour has been criticized her for coming forward publicly and immediately. Other victims are criticized for remaining private, and waiting days, weeks or months after the incident to report.
So what’s the appropriate time? Some folks want victims to come forward loud and proud, immediately. To have their wits and courage about them and tell someone right away. Others think that a respectable waiting period is in order. Which is it for you? And if it’s the latter? How long should one way in order to be respectable, but still credible?
It is thoroughly ridiculous that women are castigated for not coming forward sooner. She comes forward moments afterwards and look at the result. People are still victim blaming, slut shaming, and questioning her common sense. Why isn’t common sense not to rape someone? Why isn’t it common sense that people are entitled to determine what happens to their bodies even when you are turned on?
4. Many rapes and instances of sexual violence occur in a situation like Amour’s — on dates or in romantic and intimate situations.
Your daughter is more likely to get raped by someone she knows, which means that she will put the protection down because she thinks he wouldn’t rape her. Just like this guy, it was an acquaintance not some guy in a dark alley.
When I was younger I did not understand that I was putting myself in dangerous sexual situations. I cannot stress this enough, I was ignorant to the harm that would later come and was still slow to connect my behavior with the outcome.
Back then, I would seriously not have understood the implications of netflix and chill. I would have expected literally netflix and chilling. Totally unaware that it is a set up and/or mutual agreement to mess about.
I would hang out with people at all hours of the night (I used to be a real vampire worked overnights the whole 9) and I never considered my actions as anything other than platonic and normal.
I did not understand the possibility of sexual assault and violence that I was exposed to until much later.
Waking up and realizing that there are a lot of people who would use you just as soon as they would hurt you is tough to grasp.
5. Rape is glamorized, sexualized and ‘pornified’ in American entertainment. On shows like Law and Order SUV and countless pornography sites we see pretty, young (mostly white) victims being raped as entertainment. Yet there is little public sympathy or appetite for real life stories of rape, especially when they involve women of color.
They’ll watch it on tv, in movies, read about it, write about it, laugh/joke about it, threaten to do it themselves but nah, don’t TELL them you’ve ACTUALLY been raped. That’s just too much
As for Amour’s attacker, he has been arrested and she has continued her sexual consent activism in Africa.