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Former soldier James Wharton explains consent after chemsex rape backlash

2017-08-21
Former soldier James Wharton has opened up about consent in response to negative social media comments he received after revealing that he was sexually assaulted. During a recent interview with Attitude, James revealed that he had been raped by a man he'd invited to his home for a so-called 'chemsex party'. James told Attitude's Editor-in-Chief Matt Cain about the night he was assaulted. "I woke up at 5am having been partying all weekend. I’d gone under in my own flat, hosting maybe 10. Someone had put me to bed and the party continued," James recalls. "When I woke up, there was a person having sex with me. His immediate words to me were: 'Don’t worry, this is what you wanted.' "I took one look at the guy and I knew that was never in a million years what I would have wanted. I went mad. I kicked everybody out, I got upset... I cried my eyes out and I sulked for days and days." When we first reported on this story and posted it on social media yesterday, some users left comments suggesting that James himself was somehow to blame for his assault. One wrote: "This may seem insensitive, but you invite 10 men over for a sex party, you get high, so high you pass out, and then say you're a victim? I'm unclear about how that works. "By inviting men over for sex and drugs, you're sort of inviting disaster in, no?" In another extract from his interview, James explains how consent works, and the importance of not blaming victims of sexual assault. "It’s a very grey area but let me clear, consent has to be present to have sex right? So if somebody is falling asleep, if somebody is unconscious, if somebody is saying, “I’m not sure I really want to do this”, consent is not present. And do you know what? You can’t have sex with them!

Image: Murray Clarke

"I don’t know why there is murkiness here, and the chapter in my book in which I talk about this is called ‘Blurred Lines’, and the reason why it is called ‘Blurred Lines’ is because across our community, both inside chemsex and outside chemsex, there is a real different level of education on all areas." James, who charts his experiences of the UK's gay drug scene in his new book Something for the Weekend: Life in the Chemsex Underworld, recalls a recent conversation he had at a dinner party during which some people shared the opinions of the Facebook commenters. "Some people round the table thought it was completely fair game because they had taken themselves to that environment to have sex, right? They’re saying it was completely fair game to have sex with somebody who is asleep. No. And others were saying “well no, obviously as soon as consent is not evident then obviously that’s it”. "What I’m trying to say is, I’m really shocked by the different levels of education that exist within our community around consent." Read James's full interview in the September issue of Attitude – out now. Buy in printsubscribe or download. More stories: Rami Malek says he’s ‘terrified’ of playing Freddie Mercury in biopic Tom Holland can’t keep his shirt on in steamy Instagram snaps