I guess we’re just going to keep going with yesterday’s theme. Behind the jump because it’s depressing as fuck.
Hi, Captain A!
I have a guy friend. We get along really well, and can talk for hours about our common interests. While we seldom make specific plans to hang, it’s great to chat at group events and whenever he’s at my place: he’s works with my roommate and comes over weekly to collaborate and socialize.
Problem is he’s a rapist.
He’s part of a group from which I’ve distanced myself. There’s a few women in that group I strongly dislike, but see sometimes through the aforementioned roommate. I know through word-of-mouth (in one case, the horse’s) that he once raped one of them and behaved inappropriately toward another. In both cases he’s been drunk: he drinks a lot, but apart from these instances I’ve never known him to be out-of-control. We’ve talked about his drinking before, and let him know that he has a problem with alcohol. On the few occasions I’ve seen him drunk around women-friends (not our usual situation) I’ve been up-front with him about being drunk and acting like an adult (I’ve never seen him make any moves, but he is responsive to ‘stop being stupid’). If I were ever out with him and saw him creeping, I would definitely warn her and stop him. But this has never happened around me. I know it might happen around others, though, and I don’t know where I stand with that. We’re not so close so it would be awkward intervening beyond that.
This guy has been nothing but stellar, courteous, and hilarious around me and mine. He’s always been safe and fun in our home and presence. But this knowledge eats away at me sometimes. I don’t mind being up-front, and I do NOT want to protect or enable him, but I’m not sure zero-tolerance approach towards the friendship is going to change anything for the better. Would I do well to modify our friendship? Do I bring it up out of nowhere and see if I can make him more aware of his behavior? Is there a script for ‘hey, so you might not know I know this and this may be out-of-the-blue but I hate that you raped that woman’? Is there anything I can do about the awkwardness? Are there any ways to make this situation better for me and for other women I know?
Dear Swiss Expat:
I’m sorry, I can’t even be a little bit nice about this.
Your friend is a rapist! How many women would he have to rape before you would stop being friends with him? One? Three? Six? You say he only does inappropriate things like raping people when he’s drunk. The average rapist rapes six women and alcohol is a very common factor. So maybe he’s just getting started. Or maybe he’s raped other women who you don’t know. Are you going to be there every time he’s drunk to tell him to stop being stupid? Do you really want to take this onto yourself?
You mention that these women were people you don’t like very much. Would he have to rape someone you like for it to count against him?
You wrote to me because something’s bothering you about him. Could that thing be the fact that he rapes women? And you feel gross at the prospect of being friends with a rapist?
But he’s so charming! And funny! And you have so much in common! Which is probably what his victims thought right up until the raping started.
The chilling thing is that probably all of us know a rapist or two to say hello to. They don’t get face tattoos to keep a tally and make them immediately recognizable, so they fly under the radar.
But you know what he did. I think it’s okay to have a zero tolerance policy here.
If you want to ask him directly about it, here’s a
suggested script. Edited To Add: Thank you, Rachel Scotland, Commenter, for bringing up how this conversation might affect his victim by outing her.
Initially, I suggested “Do NOT have this conversation in a private space where you are alone with him. Let other people know where you are.” Now I suggest: Think really hard about whether you need to have this conversation at all and what the consequences could be. /End of Edit.
“This is going to be an uncomfortable talk. _______ and _______ told me what happened (during time period). It’s been weighing on me a lot and I’m having a hard time reconciling it with what I know about you, so I thought I’d ask you directly.“
Watch. His. Face.
Watch his reactions.
Don’t talk very much. Let him do all the work.
I’m not sure there is anything someone could say to me that would make this okay, but some stuff I’d want to know is:
What happened with law enforcement?
What kind of alcohol counseling, etc. did he get? (Sounds like none, if he’s still drinking and you’re talking about his alcohol problems and telling him not to be stupid).
What kind of apology or amends did he make to the victim?
How does he feel about what happened?
What concrete steps has he taken to make sure it never happens again?
I would take in whatever he says and tell him you need some time to think about it. Do not get sucked into making any decisions to forgive and forget right then. My prediction is that he’s going to pressure you like crazy at that moment. Just say “You’ve given me a lot to think about. I need some time to think about it and will get in touch when I’m ready.”
I know that this was a horrible thing to find out about someone you like, and I know you are searching for ways that it isn’t real or isn’t true. You describe yourself as an expat, so you’re living in that expat world where kindred spirits are few and far between, and it’s hard to give up on a connection that makes you happy. It feels sad and not fair, when you didn’t do anything wrong.
The fact that this guy can rape people and then present so well with friends is not a fluke or an accident. It’s how people get away with this crime over and over and over again. They don’t “seem” dangerous. And they surround themselves with people who will tolerate and apologize for and rationalize away what they did. Do you really want that to be you?
Readers, I realize that a lot of things in this letter are rage-making. Please keep it clean and above-the-belt when you respond.