Is My Friend a Rapist?

A text from an ex accusing a friend of rape has left me completely confused. The issues seem clear-cut but they’re not. Have I done all I can?

I’ve been struggling with something for the last few days, some information sent to me on a Saturday morning while I was sleeping free of a very mild hangover (I rarely drink anymore so a few beers does the trick) that has quite literally haunted my consciousness. When I struggle with something, I write, and usually I do so with zero anonymity because I’m confident in my opinions, my talents and sharing my experiences to help others deal with theirs in whatever way I can. I’d even go so far as to say I usually covet the attention writing under my own name brings. The fact that I’m asking that this be published anonymously just barely hints at how much trouble I’m having with what I’m about to discuss. The topic is rape, and the story I’m going to share is one that’s left me reeling in confusion. I believe firmly that issues aren’t complicated—they’re complex. People complicate things to make them more difficult to navigate. Complex issues aren’t necessarily any easier to resolve, but they automatically feel simpler to find solutions to because they’re not complicated.

Rape was never a complicated issue for me. It’s an awful act, no one deserves to be disrespected and injured in that way by anyone else, and nothing can justify it. That being said, I’ve always been careful not to judge anyone too quickly. I’m inclined to want to understand the reasons why someone would feel like rape is the ultimate solution to what they’re feeling. I’d never side with the rapist, but I still feel it’s important that we understand them, even if only to better and more appropriately treat them. And I do mean treat them. There has to be something we can address in their psyche that’s motivated them to take this course of action.

But then, the complexities of rape had never landed on my own front porch.

♦◊♦

I wasn’t raped. I haven’t raped anyone. But this weekend someone I know sent me a text message to inform me that they had been raped. Not only that, but the person that raped them was someone else I knew. According to what the young woman who sent the text said, she didn’t want me to take action or say anything, but she felt she should tell me. I understand that need to get information off one’s chest, to express how you’re feeling and to try and process it through dialogue. That, for me, isn’t complex at all. After thinking it through, I responded by telling her I was very sorry about what had happened to her and that she should go to the authorities immediately to report the incident. She thanked me for replying and said she was on her way to the police. Later she asked that I not tell anyone (I realize I’m violating that here, but I feel anonymity and the complexity of the issue means this is a safe space to discuss it), so I recommended she speak to a counsellor about what had happened. She agreed, saying she was thinking about it. She then expressed regret over ever having told me. I told her that if she ever needed to talk about it with me, she could.

Difficult, but not all that complex. Except for the finer details that’ve been the ones haunting me.

First things first: the young woman in question is an ex-girlfriend of mine, one I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with for a few years now. We’ve broken up, been friends, had sex, had massive arguments, dated without any sex, not dated but had sex, and we’ve fought a lot. Our relationship is complex and after the last time she ended things, I decided to take some real responsibility for how I’d leave our get-togethers feeling and leave her alone. I care about her a lot, and I even love her, but I also know our relationship is toxic for us both and so there’s no use going back and trying anymore.

On Friday night when I saw her at a party, I felt a brief pang of confusion over how to deal with the situation, but I quickly got over it. She was there with her friends and she looked like she was having a great time. I was there with mine and I was having the same. If I concerned myself with her too much, I’d just ruin my night. Besides that, months before I’d had a really nice release, a sense of finally being able to let go of her because I was finally turning the love I’d shared outwardly with her inward. I was finally feeling completely confident and in love with myself, and it was changing my entire world for the better. The only reason I avoided saying hello to her all night was to assure that we kept up the state we were already in: revelry, enjoying the bands we watched and the company of our friends, without any painful reminders of the past.

When 1AM came around, I dragged my tired self to my car and drove straight to bed. The text from her was waiting for me in the morning. Someone I know and speak to relatively often had raped her while she was blacked out.

♦◊♦

This guy that she says raped her is someone I consider a friend. He’s someone I have deep respect for, care about and get along well with. I can’t think of an occasion where I’ve seen him treat a woman with disrespect, or anything but charm, intelligence, and good humour. What I’m saying is that I find it difficult to believe he’s capable of raping someone. But then, I guess every single one of Ted Bundy’s victims thought he was a charming young man too.

Who knows what a rapist looks like? Or an abusive spouse? Isn’t the most emotionally harrowing thing about them that they look just like everyone else? “Normal”.

So already that part is emotionally confusing for me, because the accused rapist is a friend who my instincts scream at me is incapable of such a thing. And the source of the information is someone who’s been manipulative with me in the past, although not quite on this scale. But I’m also not willing to jump to conclusions about what she’s saying just because of our difficult history. The boy who cried wolf may’ve lied a lot, but he was still telling the truth the last time anyone heard from him. I’ve given the young woman the most solid advice I can, but I’ve done so from afar, with zero emotional engagement. That’s because I’m trying hard to protect myself from getting pulled into her orbit again. And the guy is someone I’m not even sure how to approach, or if I even should. I want to be there for the woman. I want to ask the guy what happened. But I haven’t been able to do either.

If I go see her, I’m worried I’ll become entrapped in the life of a person I have no interest in speaking to at the moment. And if I go see him and he did rape her, I’m worried I’ll tip her hand and weaken any case she has against him by giving him the chance to make up an alibi.

I have no idea how to proceed. I need your help and advice. Have I done all I can to help?

♦◊♦

Photo—Newton graffiti/Flickr

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Comments

  1. Marta Mendes says:

    I read your post and I agree you are in a tricky situation.

    I think you shouldn’t take sides, or make any direct approach to any of them. She contacted you and you gave her the best advice possible, contact the authorities, speak with a counsellor. The alleged aggressor hasn’t contact you yet, so don’t communicate with him, unless eventually he comes to you as well to speak about the issue. If he does contact you, you should also give him the same direct advice, contact the authorities.

    There can be many sides to the same story, only the two of them were there that night and so no one really knows what happened, except for the two of them.

    There is a chance that there was no rape. I don’t want to underestimate your friends accusation, it’s indeed something very serious, but we hear so many cases of false accusations, were people were wrongly accused. If she or he decides to inform the authorities, they have knowledge and training to deal with these situations, much better then you.
    And this way you have helped them , without being dragged to the centre of this situation or taking sides.

    All the best
    Marta Mendes

    • ” There can be many sides to the same story, only the two of them were there that night and so no one really knows what happened, except for the two of them.”

      Even then it is a possibility they were both blackout drunk when it happened as someone commented below.

      I fully agree staying neutral, as hard as it may seem, is the best course of action. At the same time the choice in what you do is obviously up to you. There are times in which the best course of action is no action at all and just be willing to be there…or not (don’t feel obligated, some situations realistically require no action from outsiders.) when the time comes that it does come out and it is know this transpired.

      Either way good luck friend, i sense your frustration in your words, but just know any choice that you choose to make you must follow through with.

    • Percentage of sexual assault and rape victims under the age of 12: 15 %
      Percentage of men who have been raped: 3 %
      Percentage of rapists who are never incarcerated: 97 %
      Percentage of rapes that college students think are false claims: 50 %
      Percentage of rapes that studies find are false claims: 2-8 %

      Source: HUFFINGTON POST: 50 ACTUAL FACTS ABOUT RAPE

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/50-facts-rape_b_2019338.html

      • 50 hand-picked facts about rape from a woman who thinks that “only men can stop rape”, who thinks that rape of men is qualitatively different than rape of women. Please consider which facts she didn’t include, for instance none of her facts referenced the NISVS 2010 Report from CDC.

      • You do know the FBI doesn’t count rape that is considered envoloping right? Its a big flaw in the system that only penettration is rape, I mean as a victim of a woman the only reason my rape case went to trial is because I was 12.

      • So what exactly is the purpose of tossing those facts around?

        Are you trying to say that based on those stats when someone hears about a rape claim they should just assume it’s true?

        I’ve seen this “believe the victim” mentality before and honestly I think its just as dangerous (if not more so) than automatically not believing the accuser. It would be one thing if this mentality was an appeal to one’s emotions and asked for them to consider how the accuser feels and the pain they are in. At least then I could understand wanting to believe someone under such circumstances.

        But it doesn’t. Instead the line of thought is, “Well since countless other people have been raped this one must be true as well. And if it’s not true, well who cares?”

  2. Quite the dilemma.

    I feel it’s best you keep your distance. It’s no longer your place to be “concerned” as harsh as that sounds. You did your part — offered advice and lent an ear. The fact that you have a relationship with “both” parties is just awkward, to say the least. If I were you, I’d save myself the unnecessary stress. BUT if you feel compelled to do otherwise, I wouldn’t blame you — you seem to be somewhat “bothered” by the idea of doing nothing. I’d just advise you to be weary of the consequences of opening Pandora’s box.

    Just my two cents.

  3. I agree with Micrns. It’s best you keep out of it as best you can. If you support either parties I would support the ex. I understand your history makes it messy so I suggest you express that. It may be messy to tell her that you’re torn but there really isn’t an easy way to handle this. You suggested she go to a counselor and you might tell her you won’t be a part of helping her unless she does just that. Good Luck!

  4. I honestly have a lot of questions mostly for her this seems just to much like a set up. She shows up where you are contacts you about being raped by your friend of all people, and needs you to help her instead of the police who would have a better time investigating this shortly after being raped. I say side with your friend not the ex girlfriend

  5. You haven’t all the facts and don’t know what actually happened. I don’t believe that there are people who you can know and be friends with who are really monsters. Things get tricky when alcohol is involved, and anyone who has drunk heavily will know that you can do stuff the night before and not remember AT ALL what happened. It could very well have been consensual sex between two blackout drunk individuals. I would certainly give the benefit of the doubt to the person you know to be emotionally stable and upstanding.

  6. The question going through my mind is — why did she tell you? Do you still have a close enough relationship that you would be the first person she’d confide in? And why did she confide in you? Did she want your advice? Your emotional support? Does she want you to confront the rapist? The whole story sounds strange to me and it does seem like she is being manipulative. That doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped but it does seem like she is trying to pull you into her life again. It sounds like you pulled back after your last break up (and she broke up with you?) but she still wants you in her life and dealing with her drama. Did you have the rescuer role in your relationships?

    You might want to Google histrionic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. I don’t know if she has a personality disorder but it could explain a lot about your past relationship. I feel bad about even suggesting it because it seems like I’m saying “oh the rape victim is mentally ill.”. My natural inclination is to support any person who reports sexual assault. But there are some odd elements in this story that are raising red flags for me. Again, she could very well have been raped butHerat just wondering about her motives for dragging you into the situation.

    • She probably wanted to talk to someone who knew her attacker. She probably also wanted to talk to someone who is less likely to emotionally breakdown over her story than her friends and family. She probably also wanted to talk to someone who made her feel safe and who wouldn’t take advantage of her vulnerable state. (Source: personal experience of extreme violence (thankfully not rape) and the feelings of fear and powerlessness it leaves)

      • Oly spare me I got raped by a woman, when I was 12. I also saw a friend get murdered because an ex wanted to make him pay for breaking up with her, by using a similar situation.

        • Ok… but what the heck does that have to do with what Olly posted? “Your life experience is invalid because of my life experience” is basically the gist of your comment.

  7. I would just listen and support her….as a friend…your job is not to be a detective and play CSI….

    A rape victim often feels so alone and invalidated…it so easy to blame everything on her…

    If you really loved her once, then just listen and just be there for her…

  8. wellokaythen says:

    It sounds like you have done everything you could and should. You let her know that you are there if she wants to talk to someone, and you gave her good advice. You reached out to her, and she expressed regret about telling you.

    This is not something for you to solve. You can’t fix it or make her feel better. You can’t rescue her. She will decide whether or not she confides in you further, though it sounds like she would rather keep you at some distance. She will have to make the next move if she needs to communicate with you.

    The fact that you have a complicated history with her means that you should be cautious, not that you should dive in and make things happen. Sometimes the best thing a friend can do is to not make a situation worse.

    Also, you may have to let go of the hope that you will ever find out exactly what happened. That may never happen, and it shouldn’t make much difference in the long term anyway. You don’t have to believe her or not believe her in order to be the right kind of friend to her. You certainly don’t have to give a verdict on him before you can proceed.

  9. “And if I go see him and he did rape her, I’m worried I’ll tip her hand and weaken any case she has against him by giving him the chance to make up an alibi.”
    This reasoning seems weird to me. If he raped her I would expect him to be aware of his abuse and then what reason would he have not to fear her going to the police? So wouldn’t he have thought about a defence in this case already? Of course it could be, that he tried to scare her from telling anybody about this, by threatening retribution, but in this case, you should be proactive, as she might be in serious danger. All in all I don’t get why you shouldn’t talk to him. Especially as it is not that easy to lie and you could find out how much truth is in her allegation.

  10. Another Anonymous Person says:

    My Gods, I read through this and I think you’re telling one of my stories from several years ago almost word for word.

    Unlike you, I walked in on the guy while he was asleep and woke him up with a knife on his throat.

    I was arrested, ended up pleading down, and after probation it was wiped from my record. The girl told the police a different story than she’d told me, which made me look pretty damn bad in the courtroom.

    I still don’t know how I feel about what happened. It’s possible that she wasn’t telling me the truth, and it’s possible that she wasn’t telling the police the truth. I can see logical arguments for both.

    Best I have come up with is that I did what I did out of concern for a friend and possible future victims and not for any selfish reasons, and I can’t apologize for doing something I believed was right. I still don’t know if what I did was wrong, since I find that crime more abhorrent than any other. Best I can come up with is to stand by what I told the judge before I was sentenced:

    “I may have made a mistake, but whether I did or not, I accept whatever consequences I have to face now for my actions.”

    Those consequences included a $3000 lawyer’s bill, expulsion from my college, never talking to the poor girl again (by the court’s order), and being harassed by police for years afterward, since the incident still shows up on their records even if it can’t be used in court or private background checks against me.

    Just keep in mind that the damage to the victim in rape cases is largely about powerlessness. Any action you take that ISN’T at her request only keeps the power out of her hands, and if anything happens to you it’s not likely to make an already horrible circumstance any easier on her.

  11. Under the circumstances, you did the best you could do, Anonymous. Take a step back. It’s not just about protecting yourself. It’s also about making sure your ex-girlfriend gets the type of support she needs right now. You do not need to get sucked into a toxic relationship. And, more importantly, she does not need that either. I think you are doing her a favor by being supportive from a distance.

  12. So what was the outcome of her visit to the police?

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