Incidentally, I said on Tumblr a few weeks ago that I was a victim of sexual assault. There were two separate incidents where some drunk guy at a party repeatedly sticking their hand down my pants, despite me physically trying to pull it out. One guy was a stranger, the other was (and is) a friend. I was not upset by either incident, much less traumatized.
However, unlike Dawkins, I do not generalize my experience. Just because I didn't get significantly hurt does not mean that others are not significantly hurt. That's sort of like saying, I fully recovered from cancer when I was younger, therefore cancer is not as bad as it's usually made out to be. Rather insensitive, yes?
My own experience isn't even generalizable to myself. There was a third incident where I had sex at a party. I've interpreted it as consensual, but one could argue otherwise given that we were both drinking. I was very upset by the incident over the next month (although I wasn't traumatized in the long term). I think this incident was different largely because of where I was in life--I had recently come out at the time.
In the comment thread on Friendly Atheist, multiple people are suggesting that Dawkins actually was traumatized, and the trauma prevents him from admitting it. Just to take an example:
His downplaying of the scenario probably was how it damaged him. He writes it as if it was happening to someone else. And that's a way people cope with these issues.This is sort of like saying, you think you recovered from cancer, but you must not have because cancer is just too awful. Or like saying, you think you're not in pain, but clearly this is just a pain-induced delusion. I'm not sure it even makes sense to say that a person experiences pain or trauma without being aware of it.
And I find it personally offensive. They are not just telling Dawkins that his experience isn't real, they're telling me that my experience isn't real. No, really, I was not upset by those two incidents. And I know because I can compare to a third incident which did upset me.
I don't like what Dawkins said about sexual assault, but I believe him when he says it did not do him lasting damage. This is within the range of experiences of sexual assault. It is both important and humane to acknowledge this. It is important, because when someone comes forward with a story of sexual assault without trauma, it should not be so shocking so as to shatter the blanket condemnation of sexual assault. It is humane, because it helps victims of sexual assault admit that they were assaulted (my understanding is that it's common for victims to not admit it), even if they did not respond to it in the "standard" way.