While looking for helpline numbers and relevant websites for the back matter of Hear What You Want, I stumbled across some disturbing statistics on the Rape Crisis website. One of the most worrying was that a third of people believe that women who flirt are partially responsible for being raped.
One third of all people.
This is deeply troubling to me. Even keeping in mind that this particular statistic is several years old, it was backed up very recently in 13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons Season 2 (available on Netflix) when, in an interview, Katherine Langford mentioned that when viewers found out that Hannah wasn't a virgin, some said that the fact that Bryce raped her "didn't mean as much." How is it not clear that a sexual assault is the same level of traumatic whether the person is a virgin or has slept with hundreds of people? This is not a numbers thing. This is a people not understanding boundaries thing.
And this fact was one of the reasons for writing Hear What You Want. In Ambra's case, she was drunk when this life-changing thing happened, and this story, in real life, is far too common. It's not just a story about a girl who is sexually assaulted. It's about perception of that girl afterwards, and the very real truth that some people will ALWAYS blame the person who was raped instead of the person who committed an actual crime.
People need to be talking about consent more. It needs to be clearer for those who don't understand it. And it's not as if it's difficult to comprehend.
Anything but a clear "yes" means you don't go any further. That's it. That's all. Flirting is not an invitation for someone to violate another person.