Columns Aug 29, 2012 at 4:00 am



Am I the only person who is perceiving that Dan's column is becoming a vehicle for thinly shrouded advertorials?

Between the convenient timing of the question about Tegan and Sara just ahead of their new album and tour, and the questions about sleep sex that dovetails with the publication of Jesse Bering's "terrific new book", along with links to his website and Twitter account, I am having a very hard time there is not some form of uh, "consideration" going in here.

Let me ask, Dan- did people really send these questions in, or did you write them yourself so you could showcase the book and album?


Am I the only person who is perceiving that Dan's column is becoming a vehicle for thinly shrouded advertorials?

Between the convenient timing of the question about Tegan and Sara just ahead of their new album and tour, and the questions about sleep sex that dovetails with the publication of Jesse Bering's "terrific new book", along with links to his website and Twitter account, I am having a very hard time there is not some form of uh, "consideration" going in here.

Let me ask, Dan- did people really send these questions in, or did you write them yourself so you could showcase the book and album?


@99, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Yes, alcohol and benzos are chemically similar, but the long term consequences of trying to get off of benzos for roughly 50%* of the population (quite a few when you consider the millions rx'ed in this country alone) is an ugly, ugly thing.

Comparing to alcohol also doesn't work as well because of the way both are frequently consumed. Most benzos are rx'ed for daily use, whereas most people who partake of alcohol don't do it daily.

The only times alcohol withdrawal comes remotely close to touching full fledged benzo withdrawal is for those really hardcore cases who drink enough to kill or poison a normal person on a daily basis for years or decades of their lives and then stop- and even then as horrific as the DT's are the process is still generally concluded in far less time!

They may be chemically similar, but oh what a difference those molecules make!

* -…
@102, your last paragraph is gold.

RAPIST should screen all future boyfriends by finding out if they would feel violated by her riding their cock while they are sleeping. I don't think she will eliminate more than .01% of the male population.

I haven't spouted anything black-and-white, and certainly not that this case is identical to child molestation.

What I have said is "My personal opinion is X, but it would be up to a jury to decide (if it was brought to trial, which by the way I don't think is the best course of action anyway)."

Supposing it were brought to trial, 12 people would have to agree on the facts. And perhaps you're right, that it is unlikely 12 people would agree with my position. That's fine.

To those of you harping on the fact that she stopped immediately when he woke up and freaked out: This I would call a mitigating circumstance, and a strong one at that. See, even justice is not black-and-white.
Ok, I have lurked on the comments before, but now I feel like I need to say something. Consensual/nonconsensual, just/unjust, right/wrong, guilty/innocent, truly making a mountain out of a molehill. Communication is the key here. LW2 needs to explain to the bf why she was doing what she was doing. The bf needs to open his eyes to the fact he has a little issue that can be resolved without the use of meds.

I have sexsomnia, and it waxes and wanes in activity. I am a gay male that has been in a relationship for over 13 years. In every instance of my sleep sex, my partner lets me know what I did the next day. He has tried to wake me up during the instances, but it fails. He knows that I feel bad afterwards because I wake him up and it's unwelcome. But he always comforts me and states that he knows that it's just because he's so irresistible...humor and communication.

Stress and alcohol intake increase the occurrences. Releasing sexual tension before bedtime reduces the chances of an instance. Sometimes that just won't happen, but I do have several sleepsacks. If I don't get the chance to satisfy myself and don't want to be restrained while sleeping, and I feel like there is an increased chance, I will sleep on the couch.

BTW, if my partner ever accepted the advances and took it further, it would probably freak me out a little at first upon waking, but I would definitely be game!
@91: What she failed to do was double-check that her boyfriend was not asleep despite him exhibiting active participation in customary sexual advances. This is not -- and never has been -- a reasonable requirement for any couple that has not already established that one partner is prone to sleep disturbances.

So, no, she literally "did nothing wrong."

The only part of Dan's advice that I don't support is "two or three hard slaps across the face" because I don't believe in violence. I do, however, believe that if he is going to make a huge deal out of the fact that she didn't double-check that he was awake despite the fact that he was the one who initiated, she should make a point of being equally over-the-top about making sure going forward. Again, for a thoroughly effective method of making absolutely sure he is awake when he starts fondling her, I suggest an air horn.

I completely agree, some communication is in order. Although I feel no one has noticed I have said that, multiple times.
A former lover was a sexsomniac, and would initiate missionary sex in his sleep semi-regularly. As long as his sleeping self remembered a condom, or I woke enough to put one on him, I actually quite enjoyed it most of the time (exceptions for being too tired, or him waking up and deciding he was too tired to finish what he started). Waking up halfway to orgasm was not a terrible way to be awoken for either of us.
> As long as his sleeping self remembered a condom

Does that happen?
"I haven't spouted anything black-and-white, and certainly not that this case is identical to child molestation." -- The Notorious B.E.N, comment #108

"The law is (or should be) that rape is sex without consent. Not forced sex, or uninitiated sex; simply unconsented sex. A sleeping person, much like a child, an animal, or a person too far under the influence of substances, is incapable of giving informed consent." -- The Notorious B.E.N, comment #55

Just reprinted those to embarrass you.

The fact that you would even consider bringing this before a jury AT ALL, that you would consider labelling her a rapist AT ALL, means that you are indulging in black-and-white thinking. Your insistence on universal, bright-line, no-exceptions rules probably feels like strong ideology to you, but it is really just weak thinking. You honestly can't see how the situation under discussion is a horrible misapplication of the principle? You can't see how "You were the one initiating, moving and kissing me and pulling me onto you, just like we have done countless times before, but it's all my fault because I didn't stop to think that this one time, out of all those times, you might be asleep while actively doing all of the above" is Alice-in-Wonderland logic? You sound like someone who has just taken their freshman Gender Studies 101 class and is so busy regurgitating first principles that you haven't bothered to think about their application in the real world.

I agree with you that communication is going to be necessary in working this through. I disagree that she has anything to apologize for. If anybody should be doing the apologizing, it is him, for treating her badly in response to a situation in which she did nothing wrong.
The guy isn't a "victim," he's a "drama queen."

First of all, the idea that you can't consent while unconscious is ridiculous. People consent to stuff while unconscious all the time - otherwise doctors couldn't operate on people under general anesthetic, nor could organ donor cards have any point. It seems pretty silly to me that I can give prior consent to major surgery or having my organs removed or not being given life-saving medical treatment in certain circumstances, but I can't give prior consent to my long-time lover kissing me while I'm asleep.

Secondly, just as a note, *in Canada* it *is* illegal to chastely kiss your long-time spouse if they're asleep, and they can't give prior consent. In practice, the police will probably never charge anyone with that, but our Supreme Court has advised our Parliament that the way the law is written, if the police did charge someone with kissing their long-time partner while asleep, the Court would have to convict the kisser of sexual assault, so maybe Parliament might want to revisit the wording of that law?

"Most benzos are rx'ed for daily use, whereas most people who partake of alcohol don't do it daily. "

Um, citation please.

It's pretty rare for anyone to prescribe benzos for long term continuous use - in this century, anyway. Typically (to my knowledge) they're prescribed for (as I said) short term fast-acting solutions. Say for example somone is going on a medication that will take several weeks to kick in, or say they are working on issues in therapy but need something to treat their severe panic attacks in the meantime.

And I gotta tell you, I trust my pharmacodynamics text more than a wikipedia page.

Finally, alcohol and benzos are not "chemically similar" - they have a similar mechanism. They work on the same populations of receptors mainly and they produce extremely similar effects on neurons.
What happened with RAPIST has actually happened to me, and it only happened once. Since that experience, if he starts touching me in the middle of the night, I lay perfectly still and don't respond, until he is either wide awake (as in speaking, eyes open, aware, responding to anything I might ask, fretting about kids being around, locking the door, etc.), or until he stops, rolls back over, etc.

I have never had a situation where he was asleep and hurting me. If he did, I would probably get up and go sleep in the other room. Living with someone who does things in their sleep that they have no memory of requires a LOT of understanding and tolerance, and protective action in order to avoid harm, to each other and to the relationship. It also involves the partner being acutely aware of them being asleep!

And I do tell him in the morning, so he will know. After 25 years together, it no longer hurts his feelings, more like a mild chagrin - we have an inside joke, "oh, the other guy was here!". the other guy, of course, being the asleep partner's subconcious (or whatever the term is).

Hope things work out - please tell yourself that you were NOT to blame!

#32: "...Are you serious? If the genders were interchanged, that would definitely be rape..."
How so? If a woman INITIATED sex with a man in her sleep and the man oblidged her, not realizing she was asleep, it would no more be rape than THIS was.

And the INTENT of the "rapist" absolutely DOES matter! Someone who believes they are engaging in consenual sex with someone of legal age and sound mind CANNOT commit anything other than statutory rape(say if the partner turns out to be underage).

Dan was right on, imo, in pointing out that the BF's actions AFTER the event were blame-shifting and guilt-tripping. It's A-OK for BF to FEEL violated and icky, but it's NOT OK for him to blame and punish his GF for an honest mistake. HE INITIATED THE CONTACT, consciously or not. He's being a dick.
@87: If you want to format a section of your comment, it is done by surrounding the text in question with HTML formatting tags, like this:

<i> and </i> for italic text
<b> and </b> for bold text
<u> and </u> for underline text

There are other HTML formatting tags, but these seem to be the only ones that work in the comment box.

You can nest tags to form things like bold-italic

Be sure to include all the closing tags, though! Otherwise the entire rest of the column will be in whatever formatting that you opened but didn't close.

(There. I'm not 100% feisty.... :) )
Thanks, Avast, I didn't know whether the box accepted plain HTML or not.

Anyway, yes, I did make one absolute statement, it goes like this:

1. A and B had sex.
2. B was asleep at the time.
3. Sex without consent is defined as "rape".
4. A sleeping person is defined as incapacitated; i.e. incapable of giving consent.

Ergo, A has raped B. Given the facts above, this is the only logical conclusion.

One may dispute the facts as presented. I don't think (1) is under any dispute. Neither do I think (2) is under dispute (although before modern advances in medical science, it may well have been). (3) and (4) are matters of legal definition, which may vary by jurisdiction.

A jury's function is actually to decide the facts, not to decide innocence or guilt. The law defines what to do with the facts once decided. It may well be that the law is more nuanced in its definitions of "rape" and "consent" than what I've given; in that case, a jury would have more decisions to make, as to whether "consent" was given, etc.

Anyway, given all this information, we then have to choose how to act. SHOULD B take A to court? I think it would be somewhat farcical. I have merely argued that B could conceivably win. But I agree with the comments saying this would be a vast overreaction. A and B are in a loving relationship, what occurred was a simple mistake, and they should work it out.

I think it is perfectly understandable that B might sulk for a bit, but not excessively. I don't think it is fair to call this "blame-shifting", because that would imply that B is the one to blame. B is not the one to blame. If A is also not to blame, then I can understand "guilt-tripping", but "blame-shifting" it is not. I also agree that now that B is aware of his sleep disorder, he needs to take charge of it. In the meantime, I think B deserves A's emotional support.

What I object to is Dan's advice that A, the perpetrator, should throw B out on his ass (which is also a vast overreaction to this incident).
@121: Thank you, TNB.E.N., we understand each other perfectly. That is precisely the chain of logic that I would have cited as being your argument. In my estimation, however, one must also include Item 5:

5. B was exhibiting the exact same behaviors that in all other instances of their established and customary nighttime sexual activity were representative of Person B being awake and not merely a willing participant, but the initiator. Person A had no reasonable way of detecting that Person B was, despite all physical evidence to the contrary, asleep, nor of anticipating that this might be a scenario to be guarded against.

In my estimation Item 5 must exonerate, despite Items 1-4. One might conclude that a rape technically had occurred, but because A did nothing wrong, A cannot be called a "perpetrator" or be held criminally culpable.

I cannot imagine the process even getting as far as charges being filed, let alone going before a jury. Be that as it may, if Person B were to even suggest prosecution, that would be grounds for immediate dumping and publicly broadcasting the particulars of the situation to his entire social group, so that there is no possibility of it happening again.

I also think it is inappropriate for B to regard A with suspicion and loathing. Again, a) had B been awake he would have been only too happy to participate, so it's kind of unreasonable to claim she did something bad to him; and b) A had no good way of telling that he was not in fact awake when it occurred, so she was under the impression she was doing something good to him. Given the actual circumstances, for B to treat A like a sexual predator is emotional abuse. The emotional abuse is what makes it a dumpable offense.

I give Person B about a day, max, to get over it. For him to continue with the "I'm squicked by you touching me" routine beyond the following evening, it would be perfectly reasonable for Person A to respond that B's side of the relationship is clearly poisoned beyond repair, and to sever ties. To treat one's loving partner with loathing at their touch is effectively the same as breaking up with them, without the actual physical separation. If B is going to act like that, it's perfectly logical for A to simply make it official.
HTML... Pharmacodynamics... Jesus f'n Christ on a sleep bone...
@ cocky

Good point - the suggestion that benzos should be used as a stand-alone treatment for this problem sounds worrisome to me. But I'm not a doctor. The thing is - the suggestion isn't coming from an MD, it's coming from a "psychological scientist" (what?). So I would take that with a grain of salt.

I know people who have benefitted greatly from being able to use benzos in a controlled and appropriate manner. People like to get down on pharmaceuticals because it's oh-so-trendy but when people are posting as if benzodiazapines (or SSRIs, as earlier) are unmitigated disaster pills, I have to add my two cents.

That's all!
@ avast and B.E.N. This has gone so off discussion. Why don't you go to Judge Joe Brown to figure it out? All in all, there are cases in which sexsomniacs have gotten a reduced or no sentence because of their disorder. Therefor, it is not a standard case of rape. If you want to argue over the validity of rape, go to wikipedia and keep changing the definition to better suit your needs.

This is/was a simple case of mistaken advances.

This is all about miscommunications which has been stated by both avast and B.E.N. So why argue the hypothetical, besides trolling?
Oh, look, the Comment Police have arrived.

In case you haven't noticed, I've been arguing the particulars of the Letter Writer's situation. So has B.E.N., though he seems to have left out at least one critical one. Can't get much more on topic than that.

If you want to discuss the letter, great, but if you keep talking about me, I'll start ignoring you right now.
I can't weigh in on the benzos solution, but having some familiarity with parasomnia and sonambulism, I would say that separate beds, or depending on the severity of the parasomnia, and the sleeper's urges, even separate bedrooms, may not help the first letter writer. People have been known to make snacks, hold what seem to be conversations, and even leave the house, get into the car, and drive, while asleep. Moving into a bed 3 feet away would not necessarily guarantee a peaceful night's sleep. It's all about the parasomniac's dream and his/her unconscious, physical response. The sleep-molester needs to go into a sleep without dreaming or to immobilize his body so he can't act on his dreams physically. Anyone who could and does painfully molest someone while asleep can easily move through the house.
I work in sleep disorders medicine and am appalled at the advice to shout or hit someone who is in a sleepwalking state. NEVER do that!!! These people are NOT themselves, they are on a very primal level of consciousness - they can be quite likely to fight back and you could get seriously hurt.

If your sleepwalking problem hurts someone, as in LW1 especially, please don't listen to all of this drivel and DO get MEDICAL help. Clonazepam is not prescribed in the same manner for parasomnias as it is for insomnia.

Clonazepam, like other benzo's, prevents arousals from sleep and also curbs some of deep sleep. Parasomnias such as "sexomnias" or other forms of sleep walking, manifest as an abnormal arousal from deep sleep - these folks are unable to maintain a deep sleep for long, and keep trying to have it across the night in many cases - so they can afford to lose a bit of it in order to gain continuous, more restorative sleep. The low dosage used in this context has been studied and shown to be effective for long periods of time without development of tolerance issues. Different kettle of fish.

Regardless of what you feel about drugs, do get a referral to a qualified sleep specialist. Check the NIH website's sleep disorders section for decent advice. The U.S. is home to leading experts in this very area. Good luck! :)

Good point. In all this talk about LW2, we're forgetting that LW1's partner is truly assaulting her nightly (how far into the sex act is necessary for rape? And has he reached that point?)

They need to figure out ASAP what will let LW1 sleep through the night without fearing for her safety. Who knows, maybe a carefully placed trap between separate beds would eventually train his subconscious to lead him to masturbate instead.
If you don't normally read unregistered comments, read #129.

Thanks for the info! :)
@116 - millions of people are prescribed benzos for daily use. This, despite all "textbook" warnings saying that benzos - including clonazepam, god knows - are appropriate only for short-term use, i.e. up to 2 (or 4) weeks. It's a massive public health problem. It only takes a couple of weeks to become dependent on them, and then the patient can face months of withdrawal. I know there are people who insist that benzos are great, and who claim to get great benefit from them, but I have read so many accounts of people whose lives have been terribly damaged by these drugs that doctors offhandedly prescribed for them - check out, for one example. There's the famous Ashton Manual, too.
@116 - doctors do indeed prescribe daily doses of benzos, often for years - my own mother has taken Clonazepam for 17 years. They do this DESPITE all warnings and guidelines that say benzos are appropriate only for short-term treatment, as in 2 weeks or so. It's ugly, ugly stuff. Even two weeks is enough to cause withdrawal when the medication is discontinued. Getting off can be very difficult, and staying on the stuff? Talk about unpleasant personality changes. Check out to hear from a few thousand folks trying to wean off their benzos - many of them who were given Klonopin years ago and had no idea how dangerous the stuff could be.
B.E.N., you seem to have a weak understanding of American criminal law. Specifically, the part where the intentions of the accused--known in the law as mens rea--are extremely important in the majority of criminal law, including rape. Here's something that should help: The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Handily, the latest bit, Part 17A, has a lengthy section on rape.
Damn it, no HTML for the unregistered? Fine, here's the address on the Guide:
Damn it, no HTML for the unregistered? Fine, here's the address on the Guide:
@128: Separate bedroom with door lock, maybe?
@138: Many people don't have extra bedrooms lying around (or, for that matter, a bedroom big enough to hold two even twin-sized beds)--I do not.

Moreover, the suggestion still doesn't take into account that people with somnambulism (sleep walking) or any other parasomnia often do things that can hurt themselves or others while asleep. Depending on the severity of the parasomnia, and the acts the person is driven to (one of my students was once found in the kitchen, holding a large chef's knife, insisting she was making a sandwich; another time she was discovered on the ROOF)medication is usually required to do two things: keep the parasomniac from sleeping too deeply or too deeply for too long a time, and immobilize them. Most of us produce dopamine in higher amounts when sleeping. This immobilizes us, so we don't do in real life what we dream we're doing. Somnambulists need an artificial dopamine delivery. If the lw's husband is dreaming about having rough or sadistic sex and he acts he dreams out, he could quite easily hurt her for real. But what if his dream changes? It's true he probably can't pick a locked door asleep or awake, but a far better solution is to treat the somnambulism or parasomnia.
Mike Birbiglia or someone talked about this once on This American Life. He jumped through a window while he was asleep. I think he said that he sleeps in some kind mummy sack now. I'm not sure how he gets out in the morning (maybe he has a wife). It sounds like a pain in the ass, but certainly better than raping your wife while you sleep.
Where can I get medication that will make my guy sleep-fuck me?
Bribiglia did that first in a story for The Moth, which was picked up for This American Life. He then wrote a one-man show/book called "Sleepwalk with Me," which he has just turned into a movie. Bribiglia has said that he sleeps in a mummy sack-type sleeping bag (which his wife zips him into and out of) and he also takes some kind of medicine (possibly a benzo) to help with the movement, and he even used to sleep with gloves on to make it harder to unzip the sleeping bag. Sleepwalking can be very dangerous.

@141: Try ambien for that--the extended release kind; that's the one that causes some people to drive while sleeping.
I gave an ex a place to crash one night and slept next to him but on top of the covers (he was under them), fully prepared to stop any advances he may make. I woke up mid-intercourse and decided to just ride it out, so to speak, as I knew from experience that it wouldn't last long anyway. Thirty seconds later he was done and I went back to sleep. 9 months later I had a daughter. I've had people tell me I was raped, since I never gave consent, but I never denied consent either so I don't buy it. Either way, waking up to sex is not as awesome as some people think it should be. You skip all the foreplay, all the fun stuff!
@143: You may not have been raped, but I certainly hope that your ex took responsibility as a father, both financially and in terms of interactions with his daughter.
I'm a pretty active sleep talker and sometimes walker.
Years ago, my ex tried to tape my conversations with a voice-activated tape recorder. I knew about it and was curious myself.
As I started to talk that night and my GF tried to draw out a conversation, I apparently said 'shhh, we're being taped' and turned off the recorder. I then proceeded with the conversation while being fully asleep.
Conscious actions CAN be taken while being asleep!
Another possibility is REM Sleep Behavior Disorder. My husband once took my hand in his sleep, brought it to his mouth, and bit my finger. We have separate bedrooms now and he takes Clonazepam. RSBD is often an early symptom of Parkinson's or Lewy Body Dementia. When the brain is losing its ability to make dopamine, a lot of bad things happen.
@ serv

Legit citations please.
Maybe (as someone pointed out) this is an American/Canadian (and probably Euro) difference because I know several people who were prescribed benzos and none of them who are prescribed for long term continuous use. I'm not saying it NEVER happens, but it's far and away not the norm from what I've seen.
Jesus Christ Charlie... You know where babies come from right ? + @147 can you provide some "legit citations" for your assertions ? And the "norms"vary greatly on our society depending on where you are on the totem pole. Serv is speaking from personal experience, and provided a solid link as well. Who could believe that doctors treat the drug companies like the oils co's treat the car co's ?
Oooooooh ! Charlie is obv a fake ! So slow...

"In general, benzodiazepines should be prescribed
for short periods only (e.g., 2-4 weeks). Continuous long-term use of lorazepam is not

That took me probably about one and a half minutes to find. Oh and by the way, I'm also speaking from personal experience (I have had doctors as profs, I work with doctors, etc).

You think 'benzobuddies' is a solid link? Dude, I'm not wading through a bunch of personal stories to find evidence for "It's a massive public health problem" or any evidence that a reasonable proportion of people who are prescrbed benzodiazepines are prescribed them for daily, long term use.

Finally, as for the tired conspiracy theories, I already addressed above the possibility that it's different in America, but I kind of doubt it. I also think it's cute that you think doctors WANT to prescribe as much benzos as possible. If it worked that way drug seeking patients would be much MUCH happier campers. It also kind of cracks me up because benzos are ancient, ancient drugs, I'm pretty sure the majority of them are off patent. There is no reason for drug companies to incentivize doctors to prescibe drugs that are off-patent.
@141: "Where can I get medication that will make my guy sleep-fuck me?"

It's a little white pill, comes in an Altoids tin or a TicTac case, and is called "Letspretendex"
@147 Go to and take a look at the 8,272 registered and posting members- 99% of whom are there as the result of long term benzo rx's and who took them as rx'ed without abusing them. It's just the tip of the iceburg, but it's a place to start.

You might also be interested to notice that the membership jumps in leaps and bounds, and that at any given point in time there are usually 200-400 unregistered members just sifting through the message boards and reading up. (These numbers are available at the bottom of the page I gave you the link for.)

Further, you can do a google search and find a number of other support forums for people coming off of these meds. But honestly, I don't know why you'd even have to. What, doctors irresponsibly rx'ing drugs?? What, drug companies pushing meds for non-FDA approved usage?? You must not read the news much.

@ sweet g

I said legit citations. I also said I don't feel like wading through a bunch of personal stories since that's not really useful and doesn't prove anything relevent.

I'm not interested to know that the membership jumps in leaps and bounds. It's not relevent, and it doesn't prove anything.

And again, you clearly have a poor understanding of how the medical profession works and also how the pharma industry works (also facts, seeing as how credulous you are to anecdotes). Please reread my post above if you'd like to understand better.
OK, I call bullcrap on the second letter. We are to believe a guy is pissed and feels violated about being woken up for sex (during sex, whatever). Sleepy crabby perhaps but react like Tom Cruise when surrounded by the pink slime? I don't think so- unless he is gay or the scientologists told him to do it.

On the first letter, the long suffering rape-ee needs to find an easy way to wake up her husband and also defend herself. Stop being a victim! A wet willie (spit on finger, finger in ear) might do it less violently than a slap. Fingers up his nose, in the mouth and pinching the lips, or pressed into the jaw muscle is also something to consider. Once she learns how to do it:
---One hand around the back of the kneck, fingers on the occipital muscle,
---the other hand gripping the front of the head- fingers in nose, mouth or grabbing the jaw) she will find it easy to move him around- control the head and the body follows. I am a black belt in karate and these are incredibly easy, basic moves. Harder to do against a larger stronger opponent trying to defend himself- but childs play if he is asleep. You could learn how to do it and defend yourself in 10 minutes.
Let me settle the arugment legally speaking: This was NOT rape. Yes ladies, despite your desperate attempts to ONLY define rape on YOUR terms, a tiny vestige of reasonableness manages to peak through. Rape is a volitional act on the part of the perpetrator. I know, we thought women only get to decide when, how, if rape occurse since it totally depends on her perception...right? Wrong! If the "rapist" was unconscious, asleep, etc then this cannot- ipso facto- be a case of "legitimate" rape. Had to say it, sorry.
As a sleepwalker (not a sleepfucker, though, so far as I know), can I just say the super-low-dose of benzos I take have in no way fucked me up and have, in fact, saved my marriage? I guess it's possible I'm addicted to them, though I haven't had to increase my dosage and have had no side effects. Since I expect to be on them the rest of my life, it doesn't really matter what horrible effects there might be if I tried to get off them, does it?

Also, Prof, you're an idiot if you think sleepwalkers can't fight back. I'm fully capable of doing anything that I could normally do while awake--difference is, I don't seem to care about getting hurt, and I definitely don't care about not hurting *you*.
Dear Prof @ 156:
The discussion was not if the sleep-fucker in letter 2 was a rapist, just the opposite: that the girlfriend raped him since his advances weren't conscious.
Please don't smoke & comment.
@ sleepwalker (157)

Thanks for sharing :) - I'm glad things worked out for you.
i jumped a bunch of comments after going through about 100, but nobody has brought up the point that this guy initiated sex with somebody while THEY were asleep. So isnt that an instance of sexual abuse? I mean chicken and egg I suppose but if one person is being portrayed as a rapist for having sex with somebody while they were asleep, the person initiating sex with a person who is asleep (even if they are asleep as well) is wrong and caries its own ethical issues. Where was the consent before he rubbed is dick in her back?

I didn't say it never happened, I said it was very uncommon. I'm not sure what the stats on parasomnia are but I'd bet that the number of cases of sleepwalking bad enough to warrant treatment is dwarfed by the number of anxiety disorders and other disorders typically treated by benzos.

Which is kind of the point.
Professor, I don't think you have had any experience with sleepwalkers. They don't lie peacefully sleeping (well, they do, at times, but why you would want to attack them then, I don't know). When they are sleepwalking, they behave as if they were awake, except that their minds aren't conscious. So they fight back, but they don't stop and think about doing harm to the other person. They also don't think about bringing harm to themselves, which is usually the biggest problem with somnambulism. More people harm themselves than others while sleepwalking.

The first letter writer's husband performs painful sex acts on her occasionally while he sleeps. He is her husband--presumably she loves him (and he, her). Would you counsel her to attack him in his peaceful, non-combative sleep as a preemptive measure? How often should she do this: every night? Once every two hours? Why-- just to show him who's boss? No message will "sink in" to him for the next time he sleeps because HE'S ASLEEP when he attacks.

If you mean for her to do these things while he's attacking her, you have to remember that HE'S ATTACKING HER when he does them. Probably not going to go over well, with someone bigger, stronger, and lacking consciousness or conscience.
Dr Stanley helped my marriage. The problem was not between my husband and I, but from jealousy brought on by his family. Ever since we met, they have tried to sabotage our relationship. It felt to me as if I wasnt just married to him, but also his family, which was slowly dividing us. We were on the verge of divorcing, I consulted to find out if he could help save our marriage. I'm happy to say that he did and I can't thank him enough. So if you have a marraige problem contact

My bf has sexsomnia from time to time. I would be cool with it if he didn't stop and become uninterested once he wakes up, after he has aroused me and I'm awake and ready to fuck. It has become less frequent and less aggressive as I have made him aware of it and let him know the problems I have with it.
Thanks for talking about it.
In light of rapist's letter, my husband has given me unconditional permission to have sex with him at any time for any reason. He thinks the boyfriend is a) stupid and b) violation was involved, but he was the one doing the violating, even if unintentionally. And he also thinks the boyfriend is one dumb son of a bitch.
a knowledgeable doctor who is willing to prescribe a low dose of one of the benzodiazepines (such as clonazepam) to take before bedtime

This is crap advice. No doctor will prescribe a daily dose of clonazepam because the patient would become addicted within 3 weeks.

Just sleep in separate beds.
@70: You are assuming sexomnia is as big a problem for most couples as it is for these ones.

Apparently, I'm a sexomniac. In my case, I get intensely affectionate, with lots of kissing, caressing, and nuzzling all over. I inevitably wake up before things go any further. I can also vaguely remember what I feel like during the episode - completely consumed with lust and passion for the woman next to me, like it's impossible to get enough of her.

My female partners have all considered it amusing and kind of sweet. Then again, I wasn't hurting them like the LW, and it doesn't happen very often.
@167--Not true. I take 1 mg every day, doctor's orders. It stops me from walking around, and that in turn stops me from hurting myself or people who care for me. As I said before, it's possible I'm addicted--but since I'm suffering no side effects and I'm never getting off the meds, what difference does it make?

I can't see how separate beds would help. If hubby can move around enough to stick his dick in his wife's mouth while she's trying to sleep, chances are he can get up and walk to another bed as well. But I could be wrong.
If you haven't been reading the unregistered comments, you should read #s 129, 145, 146, 157, 165, and 169, all written by sleepwalkers or those who sleep with them. They're enlightening.
Legit citations on benzos:

Lader, Malcolm. Benzodiazepines revisited - will we ever learn? Addiction, 2011. ("The practical problems with the benzodiazepines have persisted for 50 years, but have been ignored by many practitioners and almost all official bodies. The risk–benefit ratio of the benzodiazepines remains positive in most patients in the short term (2–4 weeks) but is unestablished beyond that time, due mainly to the difficulty in preventing short-term use from extending indefinitely with the risk of dependence.")

Cook, Joan, et al. Physicians Perspectives on Prescribing Benzodiazepines for Older Adults: A Qualitative Study. JGIM, 2007. ("The potential negative side effect profile and toxicity of benzodiazepines on older adults has been well established. Problems associated with benzodiazepine use by the elderly include sleep disturbance, cognitive difficulty, impairment in activities of daily living, motor vehicle crashes, and gait concerns (e.g., accidental falls and fall-related fractures).
Guidelines defining the appropriate use of benzodiazepines in the elderly recommend prescriptions be intermittent, brief, and for purposes of acute symptom relief. Despite guide- lines, benzodiazepine use in older adults remains high with a mean current prevalence of 12.3% (ranging from 9.5% to 20%) in community-dwelling populations. Continuous use is deemed high and likely reflects unnecessary or suboptimal treatment.")

Ashton, Heather. Benzodiazepines: How they work and how to withdraw. 2002.
I know nothing about sleep disorders, treatment for sleep disorders, benzodiazepines, and addiction so I've stayed out of the discussion so far, but from reading the comments, I think I have something to add. Risk/benefit analyses seem to be missing. It's as though the patient shows up with a troubling and dangerous problem. The doctor prescribes a medicine, but when it's pointed out that the medicine can become a troubling and dangerous problem in itself, the original problem is suddenly supposed to go away. It's as though the patient can sit up and say "wow, I'm glad I avoided that med with its chance of addiction, and now I can sleep without charging through windows."

It doesn't work that way. Without the med, whether it's dangerous or not, the patient still has a problem with sleep. The question is how big a problem is the sleep-fucking versus how big a problem is the drug that might cure it. Risk/benefit. We make these calculations in our daily lives all the time.

In the case of the letters in this week's column, I'm inclined to wonder if sleeping in separate locked rooms might be the thing to try first since the people with the sleep disorders don't seem to be endangering themselves, only their relationships. But that's MY risk/benefit analysis, and I've admitted to knowing nothing about the problem and the cure. This is something where the risk and benefits have to be looked at by the people involved.
Maybe it's me, but in a way it's pretty flattering that someone is deep asleep and motions towards you, perhaps a tad violently, that they wanna get it on with you. I can see why LW #1 is freaked out each time it happens. Some people are sleepwalkers. We used to be able to have full conversations with one friend who talked in his sleep all of the time.

LW #2, the guy should be counting his blessing his lady wants him that much that she mounts him in his sleep. Hell, I'd be complimented majorly if that were me, maybe...

LW #3, BUMMED revisited: For some people, it's just hard to open up and be vulnerable to sharing with your partner what it is you're really into. Buttplay with a finger is nothing. If the guy wasn't ploughing his girl and was getting a b.j., she may very well do a gentle reach around and tweak his brown star to make his oral sex experience that much more heightened...

That, and the pillow-in-the-face move probably has dashes of twisted humor and dominance fantasies lurking underneath. A finger in your ass, especially if it's your own hand, is no big deal. That's about as a gay as a man masturbating himself, and most, if not all men, masturbate. The BUMMED guy is worrying too much. The bigger issue is the face-pushing and whatnot.

Cheers :-) .
Oh for fuck's sake. Everyone saying RAPIST's boyfriend was raped is an idiot. Evaluate your logic by taking this one step further; if RAPIST had declined sex and hir boyfriend fucked hir anyway, raping hir, would you be claiming RAPIST is the rapist? Consent is not retroactively negotiated, and it can't be retroactively withdrawn; as far as RAPIST knew, it had been squared away at the time, and RAPIST's boyfriend's lack of memory doesn't change that. I don't know enough about how sleep disorders like sleepwalking of sexsomnia function specifically to comment in-depth about issues of ethics and consent while someone is in a sleeping-but-functional state. That said, unless this is a known issue and RAPIST failed to do hir due diligence (knowing hir partner was a sexsomniac; even knowing that sexsomnia exists at all), people calling RAPIST a rapist are disgraceful.

That is not to minimize nor dismiss any sense of violation RAPIST's boyfriend is feeling. He was certainly violated, but there isn't any culpability to assign (sometimes, bad things happen and no one is at "fault"). Obviously the boyfriend is in a bad spot right now, but I agree with Dan that trying to pin this on RAPIST is an asshole move (perhaps an understandable one, but still assholish). This is true irrespective of whether RAPIST is male or female or neither - rape is not specifically traumatic only if one is penetrated, and men have every right to sexual and bodily autonomy. The comments dismissing female-on-male rape are particularly odious.
Thank you for a very sensible post!
@172 (Crinoline): Bingo!

Although I go back to my point that having an extra room to move to is a luxury not everyone has.
Also, so far the sleepwalkers have only been disturbing those nearest and dearest to them, and sexually. But if they decide to go for a drive or dream about using a big knife, or whatever, the original problem still exists and is not affected by different bedrooms.
@168: Fixed that @76, thanks to @74. Glad to hear your experiences have been positive.
@179: If @174 is one of the most crassly sexist writings you've ever seen, you need to read more. Pronoun police are insufferable - whether that's you or Horstman. The difference is, @174's post was thoughtful and fair, and yours was a reactionary piece of shit.
@179: Neither you nor anyone else knows if RAPIST is male or female, and it's likely that @174 used "hir" in order to be gender neutral in light of that fact.
@181: See #44.

That said, can we get back to telling people that they obviously don't know how to think, as evidenced by their poor spelling (or more likely, poor typing)?
@182: Thx; actually I did miss it, as I'm willing to presume that @174 did. The use of "hir" being "one of the most crassly sexist writings ever" is still absolutely unbelievable to me. @179 should check out sometime and leave @174 alone.
"The good news is that sexsomnia responds well to pharmaceuticals, so SOS's husband should find a knowledgeable doctor who is willing to prescribe a low dose of one of the benzodiazepines (such as clonazepam) to take before bedtime," says Bering.

That's nuts. I'd say "completely fucking nuts" except that at very low doses it is only a little bit nuts, but low doses won't stay low due to tolerance. There are serious problems using clonazepam long-term. See, e.g.: (read this!)……

I wonder if another, milder sedative might do the trick? Still, it can't hurt to try chamomile tea or something, which is actually related to clonazepam but GRAS (and, incidentally, rather pleasant to administer).
I found this page because something similar to 2 happened to me tonight. I am female, and my fiancé and I are trying to wait until marriage to really develop our sex life (yes we have had sex, but we are still trying to wait). Last night things got carried away, so tonight I wasn't sure about him sleeping in the same bed as me. I woke up to him on top of me and inside of me, and I don't really remember much else. I think I remember telling him to stop. Either way, I was very uncomfortable and told him to get off of me. He said that I begged for it, and that I had begged him to have sex with me but I don't remember anything like that. I am so confused, I don't know what to do.
What if a guy friend who is sleeping next to you takes your hand to fondle himself involuntarily? Is it actually involuntary for someone to take your hand to pleasure himself in his sleep?? Oh,it happened to my bestie and she is still in shock,also,because these two have been great friends since childhood and the guy has behaved very decently with her always. She says she can't trust him anymore, and is very disturbed. I wonder if the guy is actually innocent like he claims to be. Is this a believable situation?? waking up in the middle of the night to find your hand in your childhood friend's underpants??

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