People often think rapists are sketchy guys popping out from dark alleys to violently force themselves upon victims. Statistics tell a different story. More often, it’s someone the victim knows very well ― a coworker, a boyfriend, a husband, a friend ― taking advantage of someone in a vulnerable moment.
During an interview on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast, actress and comedian Amy Schumer, who made her name as a deeply personal stand-up comic, revealed to Oprah Winfrey that a former boyfriend sexually assaulted her in her sleep. It was Schumer’s first time having sex, and for years she wasn’t quite sure how to classify the experience.
Initially, Schumer said, she used the term “grape” (short for “gray-area rape”) on stage as a way to discuss a troubling, all-too-common phenomenon. “When that happens to you, you say, ‘OK, well, this isn’t someone I want to see rotting in a jail cell, but what he did to me was wrong, and I didn’t consent,’” Schumer told Oprah. “For me, I lost my virginity while I was asleep, and that’s not OK.”
Oprah pointed out that victims often feel conflicted after being assaulted by someone they care about because the perpetrator seems to show remorse, in turn making the victim feel bad. “He was my boyfriend. I loved him. I had to comfort him,” Schumer explained. However, she added, “I also felt really angry.”
The anger never went away, but Schumer said she didn’t feel comfortable expressing it. “As women, we’re really trained not to get angry because that makes people dismiss you right away,” Schumer said. “There’s sort of no place for that anger.”
Schumer no longer feels the term “gray-area” accurately describes her then-boyfriend’s betrayal. “I feel like I lost my virginity through rape,” Schumer said. “I didn’t consent. We hadn’t discussed it. We weren’t there in our relationship.”