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. You don’t owe him any kind of hearing or discussion, it’s okay to delete him from your phone and your social circle and your life.
If you want to ask him directly about it, here’s a possible 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. I’ve heard rumors about you assaulting women in the past. 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.”
Do not Name Names.
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 victims?
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.
267 thoughts on “#324: “My friend, the rapist.””
Is it possible the friend has psychopathic tendencies? That might account for his “charm” (gag) and ability to keep people around. I ask because if he does, it’s not likely that pointing out his behavior will have an impact on him, nor will he feel remorseful. This may or may not be helpful: http://kristenjtsetsi.com/2012/07/17/almost-psychopaths-not-so-romantic/
I don’t think it really matters if he has “psychopathic tendencies” or not, to be honest. He’s a rapist! He has raped people. However charming he is, the direct harm he has caused other people by raping them matters far more than any hypothetical “psychopathic tendencies.”
I wasn’t trying to explain away his behavior or give him a pass, but trying to propose that dealing with him might not be the same as dealing with a non-psychopathic person who actually feels remorse.
I guess that I’m less interested in armchair diagnosing based off a few paragraphs than in the concrete facts that we got in the letter. We can’t posit why. Not with the information we have.
But we do know that the LW’s friend raped someone. He drinks. He hangs around with women the LW doesn’t like. He’s the LW’s friend. I feel like we should be commenting and making suggestions based on what we know, not on psychological conditions that we can only speculate about.
Thank you. Booze or drugs or whatever are just a new and improved version of, “Boys will be boys,” except they offer the rapist, the abuser, and the batterer a chance to turn himself into the real victim. We got a lot of this crap during the Hugo Schwyzer blow up, when Schwyzer treated the women he abused, mistreated, lectured, harangued, raped, and did other other things to as symptoms of his tragedy. NOt even human. Symptoms, stumbling blocks, signs of how he was a tragic figure. Not humans. Symbols.
As a mental health professional with experience with sex offenders:
Whether or not someone feels remorse is not germane to the situation here. If a person is messed in the head to the point that they rape someone, unmessing that head takes a lot of time and work. The LW cannot just sit it out and wait for change. It doesn’t matter if this person is a PCL-R certified psychopath or a garden-variety rapist, as far as this letter is concerned.
Thank you for clearing that up.
True. Sitting it out and waiting doesn’t seem like a good idea. Nor, I suppose, does doing anything but trying to convince his rape victim to turn him in.
kristentetsi: Nix on the trying to convince his victim to file charges. That’s her decision. It would be anyway, but particularly given the backlash against rape victims, it is adding injury to injury to try to make her responsible for his future behavior by suggesting she has a duty to report.
Adding to what alphakitty said–it would be especially poor form for the OP to encourage her friend’s victim to report, because her initial reaction was to ignore the victim. If she then steps in and starts giving orders… well, that’s really crappy.
The only interaction the OP should possibly have with the victim is a short email reading something like “I am very sorry for what [rapist] did to you and I have cut off all contact with [rapist] because I cannot forgive him for that. I hope you are doing well. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help or support you.”
But to swerve from “I heard you were raped but I’m not doing anything” to “I’m going to take charge of your post-rape experience and tell you what you should be doing!” is extremely inappropriate.
I think it’s a little hard to diagnose psychopathy without the proper qualifications. I mean, I get what you’re saying. If he is a psychopath then it is highly unlikely that attempts to make him See The Light will work and the time doing so would be wasted. But either way, I think taking the Captain’s approach to addressing behaviours (which are concrete) as opposed to reasons (something amorphous and hard to pin down) is a good one.
Regardless of psychopathy or general shittiness, people tend to react to consequences because they are unpleasant and we as human beings do not like them. So taking a stance that this guy will have to face actual ramifications [reports to authorities, social shunning (which may make the guy feel bad if he has empathy, or makes his potentially psychopathic self inconvenienced because it cuts down on his casual prey pool), a lack of justification and apology for his actions, absenting yourself from his presence because wtf even, etc.] is going to be the most effective approach, regardless.
Maybe he’s just another really entitled guy who doesn’t think of women as human? Why does every rapist have to have some diagnosis? Let’s face it, lots of people do horrible things to women because it’s easy to get away with, and they don’t feel bad about it because it’s not like women are people or anything. Rape is a freebie, as the last few posts here have shown.
“Why does every rapist have to have some diagnosis?”
That’s more or less what I was trying to say with the “psychopath vs. general shitty human being” comparison (albeit, ineloquently now that I read back on it). In the end it doesn’t really *matter* what the rapist’s mindset is–the inexcusable act of raping is still what needs to be addressed beyond all else, and the ways of dealing with that (via shunning, calling out, avoidance, or whatever else) aren’t likely to change anyway.
Also, I think it’s very clear from the letter and CA’s response that no one is trying to “fix” him or make him see the light.” That sure as hell is not LW’s job. This letter is about how LW wants to deal with continuing or not continuing her friendship with this person. The Captain’s script isn’t about making him see the light, it’s about determining whether or not he is a person who did a really bad thing and is actively taking steps to make sure he never ever does it again and to avoid causing additional pain to his victims, or if he is a person who did a really bad thing and now rationalizes it away
Doesn’t matter at all if Rapist feels real remorse, or simply learns that decent people don’t hang out with sexual predators. If it’s the former, he still has to DO something about the remorse and fix whatever is so drastically broken about him. If it’s the latter, he will probably continue to be a rapist–but he will know that there’s one more place where he can’t get away with it, one more person who will stop him instead of turning their eyes away.
LW isn’t going to fix this rapist. I think LW deserves the condemnation we’ve been heaping on hir, but zie isn’t guilty of inaction, exactly. Just the wrong kind of action. LW CANNOT change Rapist, but is trying to. Even the “should I stay or go?” is structured around what’s best for Rapist’s recovery. LW needs to drop that rope–fixing Rapist is way, way beyond LW’s abilities. All LW can or has to do is to take a principled stand and stop associating with Rapist.
LW and some of the comments are still so, so focused on the Rapist. Let’s all agree that Rapist is not the person who needs LW’s support or assistance.
My opinion of you aside (and frankly I have to put it very far aside), I just wanted to point out that rapists/molesters often function by deliberately avoiding being rapey/molest-y in some groups and letting their rapey hair down in others, simply so that group A will reliably defend them against group B. Case in point: my molester groped me for ten years or so, while being completely respectable around all my other cousins except one. As a result, we were fairly certain we wouldn’t be believed, and didn’t bother to tell, because there were all these other kids going “Well, he didn’t do anything to US” and we figured their parents would be ready to leap to his defense, even if ours believed us for some reason. So his being nice to you means jack shit about how he is around other people.
MK sorry I made reference to your molester as a cousin in my poast–it occurs to me you didn’t specify. I am even more sorry you went through crap like that, for what the two cents is worth.
Hey, no worries! Your point still stands either way, though, no, it wasn’t a cousin. And thank you ^__^
This this this this. Predators tend to pick their victims selectively and the ones who get away with their utterly-and-completely-disgusting-on-every-level behavior are usually the ones who do not have big neon flashing Rapey McRapey-Pants lights above their head to people they do not deem appealing victims. People who are so obviously dangerous that anyone in their right mind would cross to the other side of the street if they saw them coming are actually few and far between, despite what a lot of us have been led to believe.
Well, the big elephant in the room—-in this post and in the last one—-are how men just don’t believe women when they say that men are different to women than they are to men. They don’t care how their buds treat women, just themselves.
Make sure you and your roommate never let him in your home again. If your roommate won’t sign up to this, move out. By all means have the above conversation with him, and then never speak to him or see him again. Read yesterday’s thread. Your role is not simply to mitigate his behaviour when you’re with him, but to enforce clear social consequences for having broken very major laws and moral rules. There may be some cost to you for doing so, but it is the price you may need to pay for being a decent human being.
I’m not enraged — just really, really sad. LW, please listen to the Captain. The man is a rapist. The one thing all raped women have in common is that a rapist was present at the time. You can’t be sure how many women this man has raped but you can be sure that he won’t stop until someone stops him.
You say “I’m not sure zero-tolerance approach towards the friendship is going to change anything for the better.” Yes, it will. It will take you away from the presence of a rapist. I’m generally not in favour of “zero tolerance” policies but make an exception for rapists.
This man is NOT your friend no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise. Rapists don’t have female friends, just hostages.
“This man is NOT your friend no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise. Rapists don’t have female friends, just hostages.”
this needed additional emphasis.
Maybe LW and Sandusky’s wife could set up a sewing circle. I can at least have respect for people like LW’s rapist friend. They know what they are doing. People like LW are worse than rapists. They aren’t sociopaths but still support and defend rape.
Woah, okay, I’m as convinced that LW needs to take action against the presence of this dude in her social circle as much as the next person, but I really think that anybody might be confused and conflicted over suddenly discovering they’d accidentally made friends with a rapist, especially if everybody else around them treats that person as normal and doesn’t appear to be concerned by any aspect of their behaviour.
LW wrote in for advice about how to deal with this, because she was concerned and didn’t know how best to handle the situation. The problem here is that society teaches us that being charming and funny and friendly cancels out being a rapist because that is something that takes place behind closed doors and “doesn’t affect anybody but the people involved”, not that when people are confused and a bit freaked out they don’t always know what to do immediately.
Wow. No. Now YOU are “supporting and defending” rape by saying you have “respect” for rapists and that being friends with one is worse than, you know, raping somebody.
I mean, REALLY?! You are really comfortable saying that you respect rapists, for knowingly raping people, because they “know what they are doing”? You seriously think that “knowing what you’re doing” is such a big virtue that it somehow… cancels out rape, or something, making them worthy of respect again?
Let me be more specific. This guy knows what he is. He is an amoral predator. The LW doesn’t even has that excuse. She’s just “following orders”. She is the polite society lady watching the lynching. She is the evil worthless bystander who thinks well of herself yet points the Nazis to the jewish family next door and shrugs her shoulders when they are taken away.
I don’t care = to me, she is worse.
You’re saying that if the rapist also had a friend who raped people, you would be more upset with him for staying friends with another rapist than for raping people himself?
Or, as I think is probably more likely, is it that once someone rapes someone else, you label them a monster and don’t hold them to the same standards that you have for everyone else, who you do expect to act like decent human beings?
I think this kind of thinking is incredibly dangerous, and it stems from society’s tendency to label people who commit crimes as sub-human or psychopaths or “amoral predators.” It sounds like condemnation, but it isn’t, because it lets people excuse and minimize the behavior (“yeah, he raped someone, but that’s just who he is” = your comments here). It makes it sound like it’s not a choice and we can’t expect those people to NOT rape others. And it stops us from having conversations about why people–not monsters, not aberrations, but actual human beings that are very similar to everyone else–are committing these crimes and what kinds of messages they have gotten from the rest of society that tells them this is okay and how we can make sure that other people don’t end up doing the same thing.
Yeah, when you start referring to rapists as monsters, you’re neatly putting them beyond the pale and beyond social control and turning them into something like the weather—-a standard risk that you have to prepare for, that nobody will help you with. If you forget your umbrella when rain’s been predicted, well, then, missy, it’s your own fault if you get wet.
This. Rape is too common for rapists all to be monsters who can’t control themselves, and that thought is fucking scary. So people never do the math. Every couple years, most college campuses have an OMG! There Is A Rapist In Town PSA, and all the women are encouraged to walk home only with the guys they know. But statistically, your average freshman lecture class has 8 rapists.
That “banality of evil” thing? It’s true.
Thank you for putting that into words. I know some otherwise good and kind guys who go for this fallacy. Because, you know, it would be pointless to discuss the rapist, they’re just a fact of life and are never going to change. Now, the victim’s behavior we can discuss… *cue much frothing at the mouth from me, and defensive confusion from the guys who can’t see the problem here*
Right, and it flows neatly and sneakily into ableist territory, too. There’s a too-easy jump between “inscrutable monster” and “person whose brain operates differently,” and “other.”
Sorry… “too easy jump for many,” not to imply that that train of thought was inevitable. Apologies.
“It was Aristotle who said that a man who committed a crime because of intoxication was doubly guilty: both of the crime itself and of bringing about his loss of self-control. A world in which having been a drunken member of an angry mob can protect against the legal consequences of murder, or indeed of anything else, is one in which we all have reason to feel profound unease.” –Theodore Dalrymple, http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_5_02_03td1.html
Alcohol is never an excuse. Nor is membership in a social circle. Or an angry mob.
Alcohol is more than just “never an excuse”. It’s a tool. The guy who rapes women who get drunk at bars or parties or on dates with him isn’t going to be drinking coffee all night while refilling his target’s drinks, he’s going to be drinking also. Maybe because he’s also a drunk, but mostly because it’s a way to keep her drinking.
I had that feeling about Sandusky’s wife, too–that Sandusky must have been driven by some irresistible internal sickness, but she was just going along with it for reasons of callous self-interest.
And then I realized that was bullshit. It buys into this convenient cultural narrative that rapists are just people who are so OVERWHELMED by the OVERWHELMING MANLINESS of their desires that they HAVE TO HAVE SEX and therefore can’t really be held accountable. And that’s not true.
Look at the way Sandusky operated. He founded a charity for crissake, he actually created a non-profit as a way to supply himself with victims that he could be sure he could discredit. That takes a coldblooded horrible amount of planning. That is an example of the most depraved, callous self-interest. Look at these rapey dudes–they aren’t overwhelmed by lust at random moments, or when exposed to Short Skirts! while on the dance floor at a club. They watch, and plan, and attack at times and in places where their victims are vulnerable and alone.
For the nth time, rape is almost never a crime of overwhelming passionate compulsion. There’s planning, and control, and forethought, and deliberation. Our culture blames the victim for somehow overwhelming the rapist with temptation, but that’s a cultural lie, not a truth. So holding up the rapist as somehow less guilty? No.
Did y’all see the episode of Our America with Lisa Ling about released sex offenders who live in tent cities in the woods in Florida because they are not allowed to live so many places in the city? It’s been making me think a lot about these things, that there must be a place between doing nothing and an irredeemable scarlet R and literal outlaw bands living in the forest, mustn’t there?
Your straw man wears a very fetching hat. Did you make it yourself?
1. Did the rapist in the letter go to jail and serve time in prison for what he did? I’m thinking no.
2. Do we need to do a better job helping re-integrate criminals who have served jail time into society? Hell yeah. Let’s start with the huge number of non-violent felons.
I hope you enjoyed this derail. It is an interesting topic, please do send a link back here if you decide to explore it at greater length on your own website.
Back to our regularly scheduled comment thread.
TW for description of rape:
I was raped by a man who was both my boyfriend and my boss. No one would have believed me even if I had the courage to tell. He was an abusive alcoholic in a position of wealth and power and I was much younger than he was. It took me years to admit it was even rape. But now I know that taking your girlfriend to another country, getting drunk, threatening to kick her out of your hotel room without a penny and her passport in the middle of the night, making her beg you not to do that and then forcing her to have sex with you six fucking times to prove that she loves you while she cries is, in fact, fucking rape. Physically, emotionally, RAPE. But he was charming and generous and funny and I was just a little dumb slut who was banging her boss. He didn’t just do this to me, he did it to many women who worked for him over the years, both before me and after me. I wrote the ones before me off as jealous, jilted lovers and the grown up version of me is appalled and horrified that I even thought that. But that was his story and he convinced me that they were liars or jealous or unstable. And he got away with it over and over again. I had to leave my job, sell all my stuff, cash out my IRA and move far fucking away and start over from scratch before I could feel safe again. Now, more than a decade later, I still have adrenaline rushed nightmares of this fucking creeper and what he did to me. My rapist didn’t advertise what a fuckhead he was in advance.
LW, you already know what you have to do. Be brave, do the right thing here. The guy is a fucking rapist. A RAPIST. You lose nothing by not having him in your life.
This shit got personal for me.
Shit, this is in the wrong place. It wasn’t supposed to be a reply. Sorry, Captain.
Fuck! I’m so sorry he did that to you. I’m glad you’re safely beyond his reach now, and I hope your nightmares get that message soon too. Sending Jedi hugs your way, if you like them.
I agree with this. I don’t think anyone ever should feel obligated to continue to be friends with a rapist for the sake of them not being shunned, but I also think that if they do want to remain friends AND THEY HAVE CLEAR INDICATIONS THAT THE RAPIST KNOWS WHAT THEY DID WAS TERRIBLE AND HAS TAKEN BIG, CONCRETE STEPS TO NEVER DO IT AGAIN (very, very important caveat), they are not obligated to shun the person either.
Honestly, I don’t think that I could continue to be friends with this guy, even if he *had* given every indication of being reformed. And I really don’t think that it would be wrong for anyone to cut off contact with a friend who they know is a rapist, regardless of how hard they’ve worked to reform.
But I also don’t think that everyone has a moral obligation to never again associate with someone who raped someone else if the rapist has done everything they can to make amends and to make sure it never, ever happens again. I can’t and don’t want to defend their past behavior, and like I said, I’m not sure I could get past it and maintain a friendship. But I also don’t think that everyone who commits a morally repugnant and unquestionably terrible act is irredeemable and that everyone is obligated to write them off for the rest of their lives. I think that people can change, and while it never erases what they did and no one should feel like they are obligated to give them a second chance, I don’t have a problem with people who do choose to stay/become friends or partners with people who really have reformed.
But all of that said: LW, I do not think this is a situation where it sounds okay to keep being friends with this guy. Partly because he’s still drinking to excess even though alcohol was a factor when he raped someone; that means that he has NOT done everything he can to make sure he never rapes someone again, and suggests that he does not fully understand or care about how terrible what he did was. And partly, frankly, because you don’t seem nearly as concerned about this as you should be. You know that a friend raped someone and you feel kind of weird about it, but you haven’t tried to figure out whether he feels bad about it or thinks it wasn’t a big deal or even thinks she had it coming? You know he got “out-of-control” while drinking and raped one person and “behaved inappropriately” with another, but you continue to be around him while he gets really drunk and don’t see a problem with that so long as he doesn’t try to attack anyone in front of you? In discussing his rape, you think it’s relevant to note that you don’t like the girl in question?
Those are the kinds of things that make this sound more like you are enabling him than that you are willing to give a second chance to someone who has truly reformed. Because you have no idea if he’s reformed, or if he even thinks he needs to, and what you do know doesn’t look good.
Sorry, re-reading this I can see as it goes on that it’s not really on-topic here, since the LW’s friend is obviously not one of the sincerely reformed people I was talking about in the first half of this. I think I was reacting to the LW’s thought that cutting people off isn’t always required — and because I do some criminal justice work, that’s something I firmly believe and care about a lot. But this specific situation is ABSOLUTELY a time when you need to cut off this “friend.”
And also I think I may have misread some of the worst bits of this letter because the first time I read it I didn’t pick up on the fact that the LW thought that the friend was still at risk of raping other people — because holy shit, if you think that, WHY ARE YOU STILL FRIENDS WITH THEM??
And what makes the LW not worried about their rapist friend sexually assaulting them? In all seriousness, why not? Because I would be asking, “Well, if they’ve raped other people, how do I know I’m not on the menu if they can get me in a vulnerable position?”
Well, with the whole “he’s raped women I didn’t like,” thing plus the whole ‘I know he raped somebody but he’s never tried me’ I wonder if we don’t have a bad case of the Chill Girl thing going on. I mean, saying that he raped people the LW doesn’t like comes really too close to victim blaming for me.
“Chill Girl” sounds like a term I should know. Would you mind explaining?
The girl who wants to be liked by boys so she’s totally Chill about everything. EVERYTHING. And polices other women for making “drama.”
I always wonder if they’re buying their safety at the expense of other not-so-chill girls, especially girls who commit the ultimate sin of being angry. A crucial element is that the Chiller accept those nasty compliments that go, “You’re not like other girls.”
But I also don’t think that everyone who commits a morally repugnant and unquestionably terrible act is irredeemable and that everyone is obligated to write them off for the rest of their lives. I think that people can change, and while it never erases what they did and no one should feel like they are obligated to give them a second chance, I don’t have a problem with people who do choose to stay/become friends or partners with people who really have reformed.
You know, we just had this argument with the Readercon issue.
People can change. But they can change and prove they’ve changed somewhere else.
Forgiveness alienates the people who *haven’t* forgiven that person. Saying that that person has changed alienates the people who aren’t sure of that. And, IMHO, one is better off erring on the side of caution.
I don’t think that everyone is irredeemable. But I do think that, under those circumstances, they are — and should be — irredeemable to that social circle. Period.
I thought from the LW’s letter (which, again, I later realized this comment is not applicable to) that she was no longer part of the social circle where this happened and that she only sees him in a different group of friends these days. I totally agree that no one should be trying to convince anyone else that the dude has changed, and that if he raped someone in your current social circle there shouldn’t be any attempt to reintegrate him back into that same group regardless of how much he’s changed.
I’d be far more likely to believe in a non-violent offender being reformed. Rape is always violent. It’s an assault on a woman’s body. Rapists and all men who prey on women have social advantages, built-in prejudices, that do half their work for them in discrediting their victim.
I’ve had to deal with someone who presented themselves to me as a victim, but turned out to be the abuser. The abuser class they went to just taught them how to make themselves into a more believable manipulator.
This doesn’t actually apply directly to the LW. But my question, from watching this go down in various scenes, is what can we do to stop rapists from just scene-jumping and starting over?
It’s easy to go along in a scene where there’s a predator, watching warning new people , keeping yourself safe, making sure his apparent new target has an escort, etc, because kicking predators out is socially difficult and I know from experience that it just causes him to change social venues and start over in a situation where nobody knows he’s a problem yet.
I’ve been in social situations with new friends where a creeper from another social scene shows up I get to be the one who walks away and tells central people “I have to leave, X creeps me out and tried to assault me/my friend before.” And the only effect is that social group either “giving him a chance” or pushing him away, which just launches him off to another new social group sooner or later.
I like to think the collateral gain, the other people in the social group affirming that rape/stalking/groping are not acceptable, is worth the effort. But it doesn’t do anything to stop that specific rapist, and that’s just infinitely depressing.
I sometimes think that I would like it if there was a website for reviewing people. “This person abused his girlfriend and stiffed me for the utility bills. 0 stars.” “This person is a rapist. -1000 stars.” “This person makes nice cookies. 4 stars.”
Like Angie’s List, but for sexual predators? Imagine the commercials.
One of the big problems with sussing out Bad People is that abusers and rapists don’t generally have a people problem. It’s not true that they’re always horrible to everyone. It’s not true that they’re all sociopaths or narcissists. Often, they’re pleasant to everyone but their victim–they see their victim as a possession or an object or an enemy or all three. That’s one of the things that’s so damaging about sexual violence: being singled out for mistreatment other people don’t experience. It’s isolating.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot myself. I’ve cut a couple of people who I know are abusers, and very well may be rapists, out of my life. One of them was essentially pushed out of the community. I’m sure he’s still pulling the same manipulative bullshit on other women. In part, I’m sure of this because my partner warned his then-girlfriend about his shitty behavior, and about a month later, she wrote back saying thanks for the warning, and telling us he’d moved on to her best friend. We’re very good friends with her now.
The other one wasn’t pushed out by the community, and one of my friends is working with him on his issues. As far as I can tell, this means she defends him in public while not holding him accountable in private. Because obviously, holding him accountable would be so mean, given how sad and fragile the poor thing is. (The fact that he reacts incredibly defensively when called on his shit surely does not help.)
So yes, it would be nice if there were some broader solution for this. Though I have no idea how to make an Angie’s List sort of solution work. Perhaps a heavily community-moderated site with a strong emphasis on talking about your experiences with this person in as matter of fact a way as possible?
LW I would add that in my experience, reading and head-on, many, many kinds of abusers are charming and wonderful people–when they are not with their target/victim.Mcavitykitsune, my family has people like your cousin and I am so very sorry you suffered at his hands.
The ‘Cap, Macavitykitsune are right on about this–his ability to hang onto friends through being so ‘wonderful’ is empowering and enabling him. And I find myself wondering, really, when he will turn on you. not if.
I can’t base this from a formal background in psychology or law enforcement. But from the little I’ve seen in my admitedly midling lifespan this guy will, sooner or later, do you harm. Maybe it won’t center around rape but it is more likely he will than that he won’t.
And here’s the other thing. He’s already hurt you. He’s already used you to establish a beachead, if you will, of positive, friendly (and yes, well meaning, I do get that impression) support…and he can come back to that time after time, violation after violation. I don’t know what cutting him loose will do for this guy. But I think it could do reams of good for you and all those close to you.
And there’s one more way he’s hurt you. Like the people who wouldn’t believe that the person hurting me was doing so because of how ‘wonderful they were with everyone else,you have now become part of this guy’s crime. –I’m not saying you could have prevented the rapes. I’m really not. But I think that when someone like my relative or MK’ s predator gets away with hurting people and is accepted, still, and sheltered by others…it adds to the hurt. It excacerbates the hurt and I do not believe that this is OK.
And yes, I agree 100% with the Captain and everyone’s struggle to be nice about this. Not because I want to be a pompous cow but…why did you write this? I’m hoping it is for some moral if anynymous support because you want to enact a change, so if that was it…I’m sorry for your unhapiness and good luck.
My rapist was charming. Even WHILE he raped me he sounded nice. If you weren’t there to see that he had me pinned and if you took out my voice, he sounded smooth and calm, even then. To the point that even I had a hard time believing it- rape does not always look like they make it out to be in after school specials and movies.
Rapists are people with friends, lives, good personality traits, and serious scary control issues. In private, they act out their major power and control issues by raping, often because taking it is their form of pleasure, not because they can’t get laid with a willing partner. Just like child molesters are people who could be dating adults, rapists are people who could’ve found someone else for consensual sex but choose to rape because they are fucking sick in the head. We have to stop perpetuating the myth of the lowly-creepy-ugly -scary-psychopath-rapist, because that is most likely NOT who is doing this to the women in our communities. It’s our friends, our coworkers, that guy who’s kind of cute even though there are moments where his sense of humor is a little over the top, the friend’s dad who always helps when you’re in a jam but seems to be a little inappropriate when he’s been drinking. There are people who are testing the waters, finding out what they can get away with, either with a potential victim, or with their circle of friends/enablers, and you can’t sniff them out until a victim comes forward. And when they do, the right thing to do is to, at the least, refuse that person any more access to you, your friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances, etc.
My true friends are the people who understood that this new “friend” in our circle wasn’t right in the head. I had a “friend” who, even though she believed me, refused to take a stance and thought that maybe it was okay to be wishy-washy about her decision. Him being around her inadvertently vouched for him. “Oh, you’re friends with so-and-so?” And he raped again, one of her friends. YES, YOU GET RID OF HIM. Having values is admirable, and standing by them is having integrity. Or you can stand there and watch until you figure out you’re next, and then you’ll really know that rape is a really awful thing to go through, no matter how nice the rapist is.
I am so sorry you went through this.
As you contemplate continuing a relationship with this guy, consider this: if he can be “stellar, courteous and hilarious” in some contexts and a fucking asshole rapist in other contexts, he is making a deliberate choice every single time. He is saying (so far) when he is with you “I think I’ll be pleasant and amusing with her… use her for my decent-guy warm fuzzy self-affirmation,” while with some other women he’s like “I’m going to get my rapist jollies with this one.”
He’s playing a *role* with you when he *acts* like a decent guy, because decency is a lie if the other mode exists as well. Not to spell out the obvious or anything, but genuinely decent guys don’t have that other mode! Raping people is not an acceptable hobby for a good man! I don’t care if he “only” indulges himself once in a while! Aside from the inherent risk that someday he will change his mind about which mode he will use with you, why would you want to give a rapist cover as a decent guy, in his mind or in the public eye? Why would you want to be around a guy when you have no idea what nasty, rapist thoughts he is having behind his charming facade? Ew.
That’s exactly it: he’s choosing it. He’s picking what people he uses for what purpose. Or what women.The two are not the same to guys like this.
Sounds to me like he is setting up his next victim. Run girl, as fast as you can.
Before I go into any of this, definitely protect yourself and do what is best for you.
I have a similar situation in my home. My step-dad is a convicted rapist. He raped his first wife and did 15 years in jail and several more on probation. He has completed probation but is still a registered sex offender.
When he met my mom he was very straight forward with all of us. He told us what happened, let us ask questions and form our own opinions.
I know he has the capacity to be the evil guy that raped his first wife. He’s done it before. Yet, the guy I know is great. I confide in him as one of my parents. Hes’ a great boon to my life.
I feel safe around him. My mother feels safe living with him. She’s even defends him when they get pulled over by the cops. In a traffic stop, he has to present his blue card. The officer usually wants to pull my mom aside and ask her what she knows about him.
I’m not sure what sharing any of this means other than to say I know a rapist who I also know to be a good man.
ps. cis married male
LW is talking about somebody who has never been convicted, never done time, and is CURRENTLY an active rapist. So no, it is not a “similar situation.”
and due to all these factors has the potential to go on assaulting other women, and probably is. so no, definitely not the same situation. not one bit as other commenters mentioned.
TW for description of rape and just general raginess.
my stepfather is a rapist and a member of the police force in Australia. He cultivated an image of the “nice guy” in exactly the same way the LW’s friend did. He was charming, brilliant and a decorated officer. But this was a complete and utter facade so that he could perpetrate violence and grave human rights abuses against me and most likely others. I mean, who the hell would believe a wayward teenager over a high ranking cop, right? look at this dude, he has friends and is well respected, why would he do something like that? that’s the kind of gaslighty shit i had to deal with when i was a teenager, and that my dear LW is some of the behaviour you’re enabling. Yes, you. you’re enabling it. The only answer is to ditch this guy as a friend. He has no redeeming qualities, he’s someone who’s irrevocably damaged another person’s life (probably multiple people). When my stepfather raped me he did it with the knowledge he’d be allowed to get away with it. And he did. Don’t be the person that allows this guy to continue his behaviour. cut all ties, and cut them now.
That’s very nice for your family, but no one else is obligated to be forgiving of rapists just because you were.
Wonderful. Keep in mind that most of the women here who were sexually assaulted were targeted by men whose actions were known by their friends, but who figured they were really “nice guys” or that they felt terrible and that THEY feel just fine around him.
I’m disgusted by the slew of people here who are erasing RAPE SURVIVORS. I mean, for all of the compassion and open-mindedness some folks are barking at us to show for rapists, there’s nary a mention for survivors or women these assholes target. When they speak up, they’re told they’re being drama queens, they’re lying, they’re being mean because the dudely d00d’s been through so much/has substance abuse issues/is traumatized/whatever the fuck.
I’m seeing compassion and respect for rapists, and very little compassion or respect FOR THE WOMEN THEY RAPE. Women who often end up being disbelieved, shunned, or shut out because their so-called friends and family refuse to stop associating with the man who assaulted them and make excuses for him.
And that is disgusting.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but did it ever occur to you that you’re a guy and therefore not on his list of rapeable women? He raped a woman. Not a man.
I mean, sheesh, I see this all over the place. Dude, what the fuck? You’re a guy. He doesn’t rape guys. And if I had a frickin’ nickle for everything a guy misses that a woman would find offensive or threatening…….
I think this actually illustrates more differences between your story and LW’s than anything. Your stepdad was completely open with you guys and told you about this instead of you or your mom having to find out from his first wife. That in itself makes a huge difference between this and LW’s story. She’s friends with a rapist who has not even told her about it, and regardless what people think they should do around registered sex offenders who disclose, just the fact that LW found out via word of mouth and is still trying to reconcile it with the persona she sees creeps me the fuck out.
Also, while no one has any kind of right to be forgiven or be trusted after committing a crime of violence and betrayal , I’m open to the possibility at least that a man who committed rape 15+ years ago, who was tried, convicted, imprisoned, and isn’t trying to conceal what he did or pretend to anyone that it wasn’t rape or hide that he’s a registered sex offender and should be, has maybe reformed and would neither rape anyone now nor blame anyone for “getting raped” as the culture of blame puts it.
And none of this applies to the rapist of this letter.
Though as others have noted, a man as character witness for a rapist who targets only women is … not as convincing as you might hope.
His first wife? And he’s your stepdad? Does that mean the woman you refer to so dispassionately was your mother?
I think his current wife is the poster’s mother.
And y’know, I’m all for accepting people back after they’ve reformed, on two conditions:
1) That it be optional. They can’t demand this. If someone’s totally reformed and I don’t forgive them, they need to say “I’m sad, but I understand,” not “BUT I REFORMED!!!”
2) That they actually reform! 15 years in jail, total openness about what they did, totally different behavior–that might indicate reform. The guy in the OP hasn’t even acknowledged he did anything wrong, much less spent 15 years paying for it.
I’m still bothered by a guy going, “Well, I’m a guy, so not in the victim pool, in fact in the useful people pool, so….” When we’re talking about something totally different, and a guy offers himself as a Devil’s Advocate of some sort.
My question for you is, does stepdad continue to receive therapy? Did you talk to the mental health professional in charge of his case while he was in jail, have you read his case file? Very few people are “cured” of this kind of thing. Usually it’s that they have learned how to manage it and are keeping it under control. It’s a lifetime commitment, not something that just “happened 15 years ago”. Also, assigning character judgements to these types of crimes is a slippery slope. At what point did he become a “good man”? When did he turn into a “bad man”?
Ever heard of beards? They are women who through their relationships provide cover to men who are homosexual but may not be comfortable with coming out. Did it ever occur to you that your family could be his veritable beard? I remain skeptical.
yes. this. forgot to say it in my first comment. highly skeptical of anyone who says a rapist is “reformed”. someone just doesn’t grow a conscience after a few years in jail. sorry.
But Captain, this guy’s a SUPER NICE rapist. You can’t just stop being friends with someone nice just because they’re a violent criminal.
LW, you know what you can change for the better by not hanging out with a rapist? YOU GET TO NOT BE FRIENDS WITH A RAPIST.
As a bonus, if everyone stops hanging out with rapists, RAPISTS HAVE NO FRIENDS. This is a bonus for everyone except rapists. It would be almost like we would be condemning raping people.
Also, does your rapist friend know that he is being called a rapist? Were the authorities involved? If not, then by saying “So I hear you raped X. I just want you to know how much I think raping people sucks.” you could be a. outing the rape victim and b. putting her at risk.
If the courts were involved, you could still be putting her at risk and, depending on where you live, opening her to legal action.
Ultimately, LW, I just don’t get why you want to talk to him about this: What is the best case scenario from you telling him that you know he raped someone? He blames alcohol? He tells you that the victim made it up? He says he’s sorry and will never do it again?
Which is more likely; that your rapist friend takes full responsibility and then you get to know that you are friends with a rapist, albeit an apologetic-seeming one OR he denies, excuses, explains, says it wasn’t *really* rape and you get to keep being friends with him, knowing that he’s an unapologetic rapist?
Seconding the concern about naming his victims to him. This is dangerous for them! He’s not going to hear “LW knows what I did to X.” He’s going to hear “X SNITCHED.” If he still has any way to contact her, he’s very likely to try to punish her for this.
Even the rapists’ friends might come after X if she “ruins his life” by making him face any consequences for what he did.
This is why newspapers don’t name rape victims, and it’s why you shouldn’t either.
I also don’t see the value of having this talk, honestly. He’s going to give you “his side of the story” and it’s going to be a giant pile of “she deserved it and also it never happened and anyway I’m a new man now.” At worst, you’ll believe it; at best, it’s a stressful waste of time.
Just cut the fucker off and leave it at “I’m not friends with rapists, bye.”
I agree with you both; if he’s only raped one person in your group of friends (AND HOLY GOD HOW DID I JUST TYPE THAT WHAT IS THIS) then it isn’t your place to endanger them. Also why is this a question?
Just a thought: I always like it when bigots say shit like, “In Shari’a law, a woman’s word is worth one fourth than of a man’s.” And here we have a woman saying that one rape isn’t enough to dump the MFer, and tossing in on top of it that the women he raped or assaulted weren’t women she liked, sooooooooooooooo…….It’s so abstract, so removed from feeling, that it’s like some kind of math problem. “Women I don’t like =x, one rape =y and dumping this dude as a friend equals how many xs and how many ys?” I’m afraid of that answer.
I think the issue with only one rape is that it makes it obvious who “told” and who he might try to get back at. If he’s known to have raped multiple women, then he doesn’t know who told, and no one is singled out for “retribution”
I’m still reading comments, but I agree that LW will gain next to nothing by having this talk with the rapist.
LW, you called him a rapist first. Do you honestly not see how being friends with that man is both dangerous and strange?
But actually, I just wanted to respond to Ginmar (but not to start a public debate). Shari’a Law states that two women must give testimony in place of one man. And believing in it because it’s Shari’a law doesn’t make one, or me, a bigot. And it doesn’t make me naive, either. I understand that it’s not something that many people are used to, but the problem only arises when rules like these are misquoted and/or abused, by people randomly spewing “facts” and/or by people using them to oppress others.
A cis-gendered practicing Muslim woman.
I want to amend my question to LW. You said you heard it from the horse’s mouth. Does that, in fact, mean that this man told you he raped someone, and still he CHOOSES to be a disgusting specimen of a man by continuing his behavior and still he CHOOSES to drink beforehand so that people like you (and others) will give alcohol as an excuse? Come on. Get real. Be honest with yourself.
S, thanks for your comment. I am definitely NOT going to open up a debate on Shari’a Law in this comments section because it will be a massive derail, so other readers, please do not reply.
Please note, I was quoting the response of your basic rapist apologist, not endorsing it myself.
I want to really strongly underscore that outing his victim is NOT YOUR PLACE. Asking him about this is NOT YOUR PLACE. One of the worst, most painful experiences of my life was finding out that someone I know took it upon herself to out me, with a loud “Hey, y’know, Shiny says you slept with her while she was blackout drunk, which by the way is rape, WHAT THE FUCK MAN” in a bar one night, in front of a very extended group of people. I know this woman thought she was having my back, but what she did instead was to rip the scab off of a years-old wound, make me the subject of a ton of shitty gossip and backstabbing, and give me the ever so delightful experience of seeing that the vast majority of people responded with “yeah, he seems like the kind of guy who would totally creep that way, but he’s part of our social circle and gee he was super embarrassed just now and it’s probably just some misunderstanding so let’s just forget about it.” Now, that last part at least let me filter a lot of undesirables out of my life, but altogether it was just crap.
It’s not your job to get vengeance or righteousness for someone else, especially if it’s not asked of you, and it is the absolute height of arrogance to take that on.
I totally agree. For me, it was attempted rape in high school by my first boyfriend, fortunately a guy at the party we were at stopped him. He then “dumped” me the next Monday at school in front of my classmates as we were waiting outside the classroom saying he needed someone “adult enough to have a physical relationship with.” The gossip afterward was horrible which is why I waited a year to talk about it and then told only 2 people what had actually happened, but I never gave his name because I was afraid of backlash. Besides those who were there and *saw it* I don’t think anyone else knew it was him. I successfully cut him and his friends out of my life…except someone talked about it because he tried to add me on facebook about a year ago and included the message, “So I hear you hate me for some reason…”
I can’t believe I had to deal with that after so many years of feeling like I’d moved on.
That guy is horrible, I am so sorry.
Shiny, I had the exact same thing happen. I never wanted anyone to know because I knew when it happened who the friends I could trust to really talk to and work through it with were, but one of them decided to tell everyone she could possibly find, ruining my trust with her “helping.” The rapist then proceeded to harass me intermittently for over a year, while people in the circle, some I barely knew, did everything stupid in the book, from offering to kill him to fighting with me about how I couldn’t possibly be telling the truth. Just awful.
This. So much this. This is EXACTLY why I never name the guy who assaulted me to anyone anymore. I never reported it to the cops. It was over a dozen years ago now. I didn’t tell ANYONE for several years. He’s frequently on the campus of the university where I work. The last thing I want is to be sued for libel or contacted and harassed by him. It’s bad enough having to pass him in the parking lot and having him smile and wave like nothing was ever wrong.
On top of the billion other reasons not to be friends with this guy, who is a disgusting excuse for a human being, think about what message you’re here. As a survivor, reading this letter was like getting a giant “fuck you”, because it comes across as you caring more about how much fun you have hanging out with this guy than you care about his victims, past and future (I’m sure there will be more). Think about what this guy has done to other women! Whether you like them or not, he has done something unimaginably cruel and unforgiveable to these women, and if you continue to socialize you offer your tacit approval of his actions. Do you really want to be the kind of person who apologies for a rapist?!
Once, when I was 22, I was introduced to a guy by mutual acquaintances, and he seemed nice enough, so we spent an hour or so wandering around vendor stalls at a market. At one point when we were separated looking at different things, a woman came up to me and told me that he had raped her and she just wanted to warn me. She was a stranger, and to all intents and purposes, so was this man I had just met.
I didn’t know what to do in that situation. I had no reason to disbelieve her, and her going out on a limb to share her experience gave her credibility in my eyes. On the other hand, at that age I was just starting to wrestle with the conundrum of “innocent until proven guilty” vs the safety of witnesses/victims, my personal safety, and general public safety. In this instance, I wasn’t forced to deal with it. I moved away from the area soon after. I don’t remember his name or what either of them looked like. I don’t know whether he continued to play in that social group. And I have no idea how I would have handled this information if I’d stayed. At that age, I was naive and compliant and “nice” and hadn’t learned to be assertive or confrontational or to use my words.
Kudos to you for reaching out.
It sounds like the witnesses to his past as a rapist are credible. You seem to have a few options: 1) keep him as a friend without constraint and ignore the privileged information you received from others (not recommended); 2) keep him as a friend but supervise his behavior as best you may without confronting him or outing him as a rapist (not recommended); 3) stop being his friend with or without accompanying explanation and/or outing him as a rapist; 4) confront him directly about the rape per Captain Awkward’s script and make a decision based on the additional information from that interview.
You are not a court of law, and you are not trying to convict him based on hearsay. You don’t need to worry about the weight of evidence or legal arguments. Your concern is with the safety of yourself and your (female) friends (or strangers, even), now and in the future. Don’t be derailed by complaints about being “convicted in the court of public opinion.” Repeat that this is about the safety of yourself and your friends, now and in the future.
Rape culture persists because of the complicity of bystanders through silence and inaction. Sometimes women are the most aggressive of victim blamers, and their policing of other women can be because they buy into the oppressive narratives of patriarchy, and sometimes because they are afraid it could happen to them or that they’ll be perceived as those problem women who aren’t “nice” if they make too much of a fuss. And it is because women support rape culture too that it has a sheen of respectability, making it conventional and normal. “I can’t be a rapist/misogynist, I have female friends (or wife/girlfriend/etc)!”
The alternative to “zero tolerance” for rapists is tolerance. Hello, rape culture. “But if I cut him off, then I can’t make him see the error of his ways!” In other words, there’s no improvement without engagement. But you can’t fix him, not your job. Engagement can be interpreted as support (“I have female friends!”). And as long as people remain friends with him, engage with him, what real social consequences has he faced for the rape? What is to discourage him from repeating the performance should opportunity arise? You can’t prevent him from raping someone else. The only person who can stop that is him, and he is unlikely to stop when the consequences are minimal because he’s “stellar, courteous, hilarious” except, of course, when he’s not.
How brave was that lady for saying something to you? So brave, I think. So brave.
“Sometimes women are the most aggressive of victim blamers….” That is such a sad, sad truth. It happened to me when I was sexually assaulted in high school. Lacking support from my friends was, for me, more devastating than what actually happened. In other words: your whole comment, I agree with it. 🙂
Yes, she was brave. Though for years I reflected on this incident, wondering what should I have done? After all, it wasn’t even as concrete as he-said/she-said, because it was entirely one-sided, and we must always be fair, not condemn without a hearing, etc. But I couldn’t discount her bravery of coming forward to warn a stranger.
acuratedpalette, I am very sorry that you experienced both the sexual assault and the betrayal of your friends. Thank you for the kind words. Someday, I want to write a post titled “friendship is betrayal.” I hope you have friends now who have your back.
It sounds like the witnesses to his past as a rapist are credible. I’m afraid I worded this poorly. It should be “It sounds like *you find* the witnesses to his past as a rapist credible.” That “objective” judgment of witness credibility is the primary tool for victim blaming and rape apologia. You need to act on the best information you have, and, frankly, what other people think of the messengers doesn’t matter much.
I think it’s a really important and interesting topic to cover when it comes to this, a convo many don’t broach. I would be all about reading it.
And I do, thank you! 🙂
we must always be fair, not condemn without a hearing, etc.
I actually disagree with this. Courts _have_ to be fair, and courts absolutely must not condemn without a hearing, and courts must hold themselves to a very high standard of evidence. But this is because the criminal justice system has absolute power over the people it chooses to accuse, try, and convict. Individual people in social situations belong in an entirely different category. I make it a personal policy to believe people who say they’ve been sexually assaulted unless I have compelling evidence to the contrary. I do that because the world is sufficiently stacked against assault survivors and I don’t want to pile on. I do it because that stacking means that people have very little to gain and a lot to lose by making false accusations. I do it because I know how common sexual assault is. And I do it because I generally have very little power over the accused. The worst I can do to them is stop being their friend and pass the story along.
Yes, I believe that it’s better that a thousand rapists walk the streets than that we lock up one innocent man. But I don’t believe it’s better that I allow a thousand rapists to be my friend rather than snub one innocent man.
Innocent until proven guilty _isn’t_ a right people have in social situations.
I totally agree with you, and that was what I was trying to express. I think it’s very common to conflate judicial and social standards. Hence all of the trolls who moan about their first amendment rights being trampled when they are banned or their comments deleted.
My point was that I fell into that fallacy of “fair and balanced” and not taking action without both sides of the story. Now I know that if someone tells me that stair is broken, I don’t need to go look at it myself, or even test it physically (thus possibly falling into the chasm of doom). I can just choose another route and pass along the message to other passerby. In the same way that I can choose to not read a book based on a review that I trust. And I can even disrecommend it to others on the strength of that review without having read it myself. And doing so is not some gross injustice to the author.
“Sometimes women are the most aggressive of victim blamers….” this is why prosecutors in rape trials usually try to populate the jury with middle aged men because the rape victims/accusers remind them of their daughters, while women want to believe this would never happen to them and so blame the victims for causing their own pain.
We could have a poll of everybody who ever got blamed for their own rape or assault by another woman. It’s that common that many women just don’t even consciously fear it—-they just act reflexively without conscious awareness. The notion that other people have more control over their fates than they do is extremely threatening.
I’m sorry, I’m confused- when you say you heard from “the horse’s mouth”…….you mean the girl he raped? You mean somebody sat down with you and told you they were raped and you still want to be friends with the guy who did it? As you refer to the guy as a rapist, straight up and with no wavering, it seems pretty clear that you believed this story.
I would never, ever want to be anywhere near this guy ever again, even just for the sake of self preservation. I’m completely baffled by any other reaction.
I was also confused by this: I took “horse’s mouth” to mean the rapist himself had either confessed to LW or described a sexual assault to the LW. In that case, the script alterations regarding the outing victim are not necessary since the rapist himself outed her, but all of the do not have this convo in private precautions still stand.
I wondered about that too, but I just can’t picture any conversation that basically goes, “Oh, you hang out with Group X? Do you know so-and-so? Because I raped her one time.”
I actually was in an all-male work situation wherein one of the guys /bragged/ about participating in a gang-rape. His justification was ‘she was the daughter of teachers at the school and she shouldn’t have passed out around us’. I got to hear how they dumped her, naked, in her parents’ yard after urinating and defecating on her. And NOT ONE of my male co-workers said ANYTHING except to DEFEND this. This is after I pointed out that /I/ was the daughter of teachers as well and did that mean that the same should be done to me??
And you know what? I got asked not to return to that job because ‘I made the guys feel uncomfortable’.
I left that job, left that field, left those so-called friends and moved 2,000 miles away. Best thing I ever did.
Something like this happened to me on a job too. I put up with it for a very long time and when I finally said something it was so tearful and freaked out that I only got taken *slightly* seriously. I don’t really tell people this part, but that was a major reason I ended up leaving that field. Ugh.
oh my god. oh my god. oh my god.
I know that it’s very unladylike to bludgeon people to death with shovels, but sometimes it just seems like it would be the neighborly thing to do.
I. just. can’t. WTF isn’t even harsh enough. Yeah, rape culture’s totes imaginary.
I had the lovely experience of working with a large group of sensitive 90’s dudebros some years ago, one of which informed the (all present male but for me) kitchen staff that “women get raped because they are asking for it,” then looked at me and asked, “Isn’t that true?” all wide eyed, sure of himself and expecting commiseration. After I picked up my jaw off the floor, I stared him down and said “No, actually, from personal experience I can say that is most certainly not true.” He looked confused as to why I wouldn’t agree with him and/or why I’d have been raped if I wasn’t asking for it. All the sensitive 90’s dudebros laughed.
I detailed that conversation (among others) in my 3-4 page letter of resignation, in a section entitled “Why (x restaurant) is a hostile work environment for women.”
Holy fucking shit. I kind of want to die of horror right now.
This is the stuff that scares me about our society. If the girl directly told this person that she was raped, and it was just…brushed off….
What about, heaven forbid, in years from now a child said they were being touched inappropriately, but because the person seemed SOOO nice and trustworthy, it would be ignored until it was too late? [years from now meaning in the LWs life]
This is why this stuff needs to stop NOW! Before more children and women get hurt. It’s a terrible cycle that bleeds everywhere.
Second paragraph was me. I was four, he was sixteen, but we attended church together so there was no *possible* way he was dragging me under the bed!
This shit (read: rape, molestation, anything to do with touching kids) is super common. Ignoring a molester not only gives them space to thrive, it feeds their justifications.
Yeah, I assumed that “from the horse’s mouth” was the rapist telling LW that he’d raped someone – presumably, one of the women LW doesn’t really like.
Either that or, you know, rapist also raped a horse and the horse told LW.
I get where LW is coming from. Sometimes people do terrible things. We’d all like to think that if we do something out-of-bounds, get in trouble, make a change, and pay our debt to society (as best we can) that we’d have a chance at something resembling a normal life and friendships again.
“Here’s this person who’s very agreeable to be around otherwise. What if that’s all in the past?”
Ask yourself if there’s anything about his behavior that indicates he truly has made any amends or moved on to a new phase of his life and personality. Your letter makes it sound doubtful. The fact that the incidents are framed around his drunkenness sounds like a like of accountability. He’s still drinking! If you do something terrible and alcohol is a factor, then when you are truly remorseful and trying to change, you stop drinking. Not only is he still drinking, but your group still has to intervene to stop socially unacceptable behaviors when he does so.
Basically, this guy has no problem with putting himself and people around him right back in the situation that it sounds like he’s blaming for the incident. And blaming alcohol instead of admitting that alcohol only makes it easier to do things you want to do but know you shouldn’t isn’t taking responsibility.
Kick this joker to the curb.
Rapists are predators. Every study done shows they engage in deliberate, predatory behaviours.
Most predators don’t go after prey by leaping in front of it, baring their teeth and shouting I’M GOING TO EAT YOU!. It’s possible your rapist friend is charming and nice around you because you’re part of his “safe” group – the social group that he can trust to have his back if/when (more likely when) he gets accused of rape in the future. It’s also possible he’s grooming you, or someone in your mutual social group, to trust him enough that he can assault them. Or maybe there isn’t anyone in your mutual group he’s interested in so he doesn’t feel the need to creep around you. The point is, you don’t know his intentions.
Not all rapey types act as overtly as the ones in the last pair of letters (okay, overt to most of us but apparently subtle as fuck if the reactions of the previous LW’s friends and partners is to be believed /snark). One of the best tools many of them have is the ability to charm people, to make them trust them, and to give conflicting messages.
Some of the most dangerous men I’ve encountered were also the sweetest, most charming and fun and friendly and easy to trust. Right up until the moment they weren’t, any more. Consider the fact that you’ve heard about these prior incidents a personal blessing. You’ve been forewarned. Run. And for goodness sake, make sure the rest of your social group knows why you’re keeping away. Your honesty just might save one of them from being his next target.
When I discovered that a member of my circle of friends was a rapist, I cooled off all interactions with him and asked my housemates not to invite him over any more, giving reasons. My housemates, being reasonable people, acquiesced. If your housemate is a reasonable person, he will understand any similar requests you make of him; if not, I would consider finding a new one.
During and immediately after the time I dated an abuser, the people around me (and him) all took the stance of being sympathetic to me – bearing in mind that I was one of a long stream of people whom he’d treated this way – but saying that since he hadn’t done anything to them, they couldn’t kick him out of their group. This is bullshit. I would really, really have appreciated if some – even just one or two – of them had said “this is not OK, and we are not going to sanction his behaviour by pretending everything is hunky dory around him”. Whether or not the survivor chooses to report, it can make all the difference to feel like someone is on your side and cares about what this person did.
I say this not as a judgement of you, LW, but to give you an insight into the kind of impact your choices might have on others. If you lose this friendship, you will not only cease to be friends with someone who could hurt you and the people around you, but you might gain some other valuable friends who might have been holding back before but now see that you are not on Team Rapist Douche-Canoe.
“During and immediately after the time I dated an abuser, the people around me (and him) all took the stance of being sympathetic to me – bearing in mind that I was one of a long stream of people whom he’d treated this way – but saying that since he hadn’t done anything to them, they couldn’t kick him out of their group. This is bullshit. I would really, really have appreciated if some – even just one or two – of them had said “this is not OK, and we are not going to sanction his behaviour by pretending everything is hunky dory around him”. Whether or not the survivor chooses to report, it can make all the difference to feel like someone is on your side and cares about what this person did.”
Yes, yes, yes to this. My abuser is STILL popular among quite a few people who know what he did to me. I’m still dealing with the PTSD, but they seem not to care about the continued emotional fallout and how their sanctioning of his actions by continued interactions with him, affect me or anyone else he’s hurt. The ongoing trauma caused by all of this is probably WORSE than the initial traumas I underwent with him.
I had a… similar situation. Only not exactly.
There was this guy. He was a pretty classical missing stair: everyone knew he’d assaulted people, both sexually and just plain battery. Everyone kept him around because…. I have no idea really; he’s smart and occasionally entertaining, but a huge dick even when he tries not to be. He sexually harassed me the first time I’ve met him.
But a few years later, I heard he changed. He’s been taking his pills. He does have some redeeming points and we do have some things in common so I thought, hell, why not give the guy a chance? He’s still a dick and he did do all these things, but shouldn’t I give him a chance to prove he’s better now, an incentive *not* to be a dick?
Then I found out he’d assaulted a — distant friend, not someone close to me but someone I did know. This was back during the time when everyone knew he wasn’t right, but it made it vivid to me. And he was still a dick. So I cut him out. Then I ended up talking to him again, briefly, because he was a big important part of a group I was in. Let’s just say, his being in that group was a big part of why I left it very quickly.
I’d never let myself be alone with that guy. I’ve warned my younger, more impressionable community friends against him. But I haven’t gone to that group and demanded what they were thinking, why they still had that guy. I haven’t told the guy who invited me to it, who used to be a good friend before his whining about why won’t I come to their meetings and why did I leave and why couldn’t I see he was only still contacting me about the group’s doing because he respected me and why am I being all mean and telling him to stop? (You can probably see why I didn’t tell that guy about the rapey non-friend being one. I mean, I’m sure he’d have believed me and respected my experiences! Not.)
It just seems like everybody knows about this rapey guy already and the only people who care are the ones doing it on their own ground, like my friend who wouldn’t invite him to her party (which is how I found out he’d assaulted that other friend). Even going so far as to block that dude on Facebook and refuse to hug him at conventions was unexpectedly difficult. And that was after he was utterly unable to hide his dick side around anyone, for any length of time. When it’s someone who is your actual friend…. I can see how that is hard to deal with.
But still, LW, cut the guy out of your life, at the very least. A rapist is, down when you get to it, someone who doesn’t think women are human. If you’re not a woman, surely some people you care about are. Is this the company you want to be keeping?
I am speechless.
LW, if you continue to hang out with this rapist, he will eventually rape or sexually assault one of your friends. Or maybe a relative of yours he meets. Or maybe a colleague he meets.
How will you look them in the face after he does something like that to them? What will you say to them–“Oh, I heard stuff, but he only does that when he drinks! He needs rehab! Besides, he’s always been courteous and great to ME.”
Otherwise, what Katniss said about this being a real “fuck you” to survivors–though I’ll expand that to a “fuck you” to women, since women are the majority of people who are raped.
I don’t give a fuck about how nice he is. The woman (women?) he’s raped probably doesn’t think he’s so nice.
And yes. If a friend of mine RAPED somebody, you bet your ass I’d shun the fuck out of them. And I’d shun the fuck out of anybody who associated with them.
HOLY FUCK I CANNOT EVEN.
Also, LW, the stats for sexual assault in the US (I’m told that other countries are pretty similar) are in the neighborhood of 1 out of 6 women. 1 out of 4 women who’ve been to college. MORE THAN 50% of women who’ve been in the military.
There are women you know who you DO like who have been sexually assaulted by someone, probably a man. What does it tell them if you’re willing to hang out with a rapist who doesn’t seem to give a damn about what he’s done? “Well, yeah, but this guy’s really cool, not like the one who raped YOU.” Fuck that sideways.
When I was 18, I had an affair – briefly – with a person who turned out to be a manipulative psychopathic liar. I broke it off because the person was making me feel very uncomfortable and I had realised that they’d tell me some stories that absolutely did not seem to be true.
Two years later, after the ex (we’d “stayed friends”, which on reflection was a big mistake) had managed to hurt me and several people I loved in various ways, I finally and comprehensively broke it off – explained I would never speak to or associate with them again, and why.
Five years after that, in a new group of friends, I bumped into the ex-affair again. Ex-A was terribly friendly, terribly cheerful, and when it was clear that I still intended to keep my rule of never speaking to or associating with them again, Ex-A told everyone in my new group of friends that yes, I wasn’t speaking to them, yes, they were Terribly Sad about that, and yes, they had no idea why.
I tried to explain why, but no one believed me. Ex-A was charming. Friendly. Generous. I was sulky, angry, and telling (what I admit) was a complicated and quite unbelievable story about Ex-A being a nasty, malicious liar. I didn’t think about bringing in any corroborative evidence (though I could have): I just basically stopped hanging out with new group of friends quite so much, self-protectively, because Ex-A scared the crap out of me.
They were very nice about warning me if Ex-A was coming to a meet-up, but it meant that I couldn’t come to any Ex-A was going to attend. Which was treated as emotional manipulation on my part… I don’t know what-all Ex-A may have said. but I do know that they consistently treated this as a mental health issue I had, a “problem” which I needed to “resolve”, and the rest of the group went along with that. Doubtless it sounded very convincing.
Ex-A got involved, one after another, with both of the most vulnerable women in the group – both of whom I then tried to warn, in really explicit detail, what Ex-A was like – and neither of them believed me (again, I never thought of trying to get corroborative evidence, and in fact their presumption that I must be deluded hurt/offended me), and both of them got back in touch after Ex-A had lied to them and manipulated them and hurt them for two years apiece – because they needed to tell someone about their experience with Ex-A, and I was the only one they knew would believe them.
You know what this guy is like: he’s a rapist. I’m sure he’s also charming and funny and lovely company. It’s how rapists and abusers get access.
I knew what Ex-A was like. I’m pretty sure I did all I reasonably could do to protect other people against Ex-A, and none of it worked – the only person I successfully protected was me.
You’re entitled to protect yourself. It’s possible you may also protect others if you make clear that you’re not hanging out with Charmer any more because he told you he raped women. But protecting yourself is worth doing. Stop seeing him.
“You know what this guy is like: he’s a rapist. I’m sure he’s also charming and funny and lovely company. It’s how rapists and abusers get access.”
And you know what? Even if this guy isn’t a manipulative bastard (which, for the record, you can’t actually know, as that is the nature of manipulative bastards) and really IS genuinely nice in all respects besides, you know, BEING A RAPIST, that doesn’t make him not a rapist.
I have to recommend Cliff Pervocracy’s Slavering Beast Theory and paraphrase it here: Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. That’s why it’s entirely possible for religious leaders to be child molesters and pillars of the community to be domestic abusers and totally cool dudes to be rapists. Were their good deeds all a lie? In some cases, no: the money they gave to charity probably actually helped people; the daycare they ran or the support groups they founded probably helped people, too.
That doesn’t negate the fact that they are predators. That doesn’t “balance it out” either. Giving money to charity or being charming and funny or doing community service doesn’t make you not a rapist: not raping someone makes you not a rapist.
This, this, this.
It’s so important to keep this in mind, because it’s when we forget it that we start thinking, “Oh, X can’t be a rapist/an abuser, they’re so *nice*!”
I dealt once with a pedophile (in my capacity as a lawyer, thank god… not personally). He had gotten away with a lot because he was charming, and as erudite as a university professor… because that’s what he was. But he said some truly disturbing stuff *in court, on the record* about how the problem wasn’t him, it was other people’s narrowminded conceptions of appropriate and inappropriate sexuality when it came to children. Talking about his own infant daughter. Nice, charming, funny, well-read… none of that is any guarantee.
Hasn’t anybody seen Silence of the Lambs?
“Maybe he shoves old ladies into traffic, but he’s such a snappy dresser!”
“He might strangle the occasional puppy, but he makes the most delicious gazpacho!”
“We’ve all heard the strange noises coming from his shed, but his zinnias are the brightest and lushest on the whole block!”
I’m sorry, LW, but you know what you sound like? You sound like a chimpanzee fancier. “Sure, there are all those stories about chimpanzees chewing off their owner’s faces, and maybe he has started shrieking at us and showing his teeth, and maybe we have been warned countless times that he has literally superhuman strength and an instinctive need to establish and defend dominance within his ‘troop,’ but Mr. Tickles is just zooooo cuuuuuuute, isn’t he? Isn’t he? Ooo’s a cute widdow boieeee? Ooo’s a boo? Oo’s a funny widdAAARGH! AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH! NOOOOOO, MR. TICKLES, NOOOOOOOOOOOO! OHGODOHGODOHGODOGARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHH!”
Except, wait, nobody’s gonna chew your face off, so you’re really more like a chimpanzee fancier who has a toddler at home.
Sometimes bad people are entertaining or amiable people sometimes. Sometimes they’re three-dimensional human beings, with talents and vulnerabilities and interests of their own. That’s kind of the problem, isn’t it? They’re people. If they looked less like people and more like, I don’t know, wolverines, then maybe things would be clear. That doesn’t mean this guy isn’t a rapist–rather, that every necessary component of a rapist’s psychological makeup isn’t right there in his head as well. It must be. After all, he’s committed rape. You know what he’s like. He’s already attacked at least one person.
LW, ask yourself if you’d hang out with this guy if he’d only molested one child. (Or eaten one face.) Then get the fuck away from this creep, and apologize to the women you’ve hurt by supporting him.
Oh dear. From the title I thought this was going to be a “this guy I know raped someone a long time ago but has since made significant and apparently lasting changes to his life that make me confident he’s now a safe person to be around but I still feel weird about it” but instead got a “my friend sometimes rapes people while drunk (and still drinks), but he’s never raped me or anyone I actually like, so I kind of feel ok about it”.
I mean… I hope this was one of those letter that after the LW typed it all out it seemed really obvious to her that her thinking has been a bit twisted and has now realized that she shouldn’t be friends with an active rapist, but decided to send it anyway just because. I’m actually going to just chose to believe that for now.
Captain, I would like to point out that your ‘not even a little bit nice’ is WAY NICER than you seem to realize. (The lack of swearing, alone, is kind of a feat of Emily Post-hood.)
I think it’s possible the LW is male, due to the reference to ‘women-friends’ and the utter, complete lack of fear for LW’s self. (Although, hey, I had a woman describe our mutual boss’s proto-rape advances on her and then, when I advised her to not go on a trip with just him to a remote foreign location about which he had said, ‘we only need one hotel room, right?’, she responded with, ‘Do I really look like the kind of woman who gets raped?’ Uh, yes? People can be clueless about danger, is what I’m saying, even women.) IF LW is indeed male, then:
Yes, you incredibly short-sighted jerk, you can make things better by not giving cover to a rapist. ‘Cause that’s what you’re doing. Women who know you are being led to believe that the rapist is safe, because you spend time with him socially, and women who know better are being taught that rapist is totally allowed to rape, so long as he’s not too showy about it in your face – because then he might get a bit of a talking to about his alcohol consumption (rather than his raping). Are you really such a terrible privilege monster that making raping more fun and (socially) profitable is totally worth it so you can hang out with a courteous, hilarious fellow?
If LW is female, those things still apply, but also: Danger, Will Robinson! Rapists gonna rape, and whatever reason you have for thinking yourself safe (which, does it have anything to do with the fact that the women he raped are women you don’t like? I don’t know if that’s the case, but you included that totally irrelevant fact rather pointedly, so…maybe think about that.), whatever reason you have for finding him safe should be overshadowed by the fact that he’s a rapist. Keep him out of your home, avoid him out in the world. He is dangerous, and you are not exempt from that danger.
I didn’t even think about the fact that the LW was like “yeah, maybe not with the drinking for you” but isn’t sure if the RAPING is that big a deal. Priorities!
That reminds me of this coworker I had (TW for… most things). Charming, funny, drug/alcohol addict, history of domestic abuse. You know the type. People kept blaming the “scrapes” he was getting himself into on the fact that he specifically dated “trashy” (their words) women. He ended up getting drunk one night and beating a woman who was living with him. She ended up dying from the beating. His trial wasn’t for a year later and he still worked in my office in the interim. Still charming, still funny. People were STILL like “well, if he didn’t date people from X street (the wrong side of town, you know.) and cut out the drinking…”
LW, Your friend is not a special snowflake of a rapist and you are not a special snowflake of a friend of a rapist. This is exactly what happens all the time. Knock it out.
FWIW, I took the LW to be a man, too. Sounded like a case of guy culture minimizing rape. If that’s the case, then LW has the opportunity and RESPONSIBILITY to be part of the only solution that has some chance of helping: other men refusing to provide cover to their friends who are raping women.
The Specials explain what to do if you have a racist friend. Works just as well for a rapist friend I think.
Ha, that’s great! Thanks for that link.
Wow, I snorted coffee up my nose. The steel drums are awesome!
uhg uhg uhg DON’T read the comments (I know that should be obvious for YouTube comments, but UHG).
Video was great, though 🙂
I need to re-find it, but there’s an extension for some web browsers that replaces YouTube comments with herp derp. Best extension ever!
The one thing that bugs me about the LW is she seems to be blaming the dude’s drinking, at least in part, for him being a rapist.
One of the first things you learn when you learn to drive is that alcohol works in two ways: it takes out your judgement first and your coordination second. It does not change your character alignment from Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil – it does not make you do anything you would not do yourself already.
Judgement is what makes you think things like, “If I rape that person, I will be a terrible person who has abused the trust they have placed in me,” or, at the very least, “If I rape that person, I will go to jail and jail is bad.” Judgement does not prevent you from having the urge to rape people in the first place.
And also, once you’re an experienced drinker you get no kind of pass for poor judgement while drunk. If you know that you do stupid, harmful, or otherwise bad things while you’re drunk, you can choose not to get drunk. And if you can’t choose not to get drunk (i.e. you’re very addicted) then you can get help to choose not to get drunk.
Yes! My mum recently realised (thanks to my dad) that drinking red wine makes her irrationally irritable and angry. So, the moment she realised it? No more red wine! Because if you cannot control your own behaviour when under the influence of a thing, the first and only step to be taken is to STOP EATING/DRINKING THE THING.
LW’s friend is still drinking? Either he doesn’t care enough to keep away from alcohol, or the alcohol is just an excuse. Either answer makes him a shit head.
Did you just make a D&D reference there? Lulz.
More importantly, if drinking brings out the worst in you, STOP DRINKING. Seriously.
LW, if you need yet another good reason to cut this guy off (and you really, really shouldn’t), someone who deviates so far from basic morality in this one massive respect, is guaranteed to have other strings to his bastardly bow. You know his charm is a complete fraud, and if he’s prepared to commit rape, he’s going to have no foibles lying to you about all kinds of important things, stealing from you, maybe being violent towards you if (a) there’s a reason that makes to him and (b) he thinks he can get away with it.
So you’re not going to be raped, but this guy is all about what he can get away with and as such, he is dangerous to everyone around him, including you.
Also – and I don’t think it can be said enough – your friend is a rapist!
Mmmm… wasn’t it the Meet the Predators blog posts elsewhere on the internet that showed the results of those studies on unconvicted rapists?
Ah, here we are. http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/
“Lisak & Miller also answered their other question: are rapists responsible for more violence generally? Yes. The surveys covered other violent acts, such as slapping or choking an intimate partner, physically or sexually abusing a child, and sexual assaults other than attempted or completed rapes. In the realm of being partner- and child-beating monsters, the repeat rapists really stood out. These 76 men, just 4% of the sample, were responsible for 28% of the reported violence. The whole sample of almost 1900 men reported just under 4000 violent acts, but this 4% of recidivist rapists results in over 1000 of those violent acts.”
Now, it’s possible LW’s friend doesn’t deviate from acceptable behaviour in areas other than rape, or that he only targets women (I don’t know if LW is a man or a woman, but I’m leaning towards male because of the way the letter is worded). But it’s definitely worth pointing out to LW that, just because you’ve only seen his charming side, doesn’t mean his predatory side (which you know exists! and is horrible and rapey!) isn’t predatory in multiple ways.
After I was assaulted, a large portion of my group of friends remained friends with him. I was trying to give off strong vibes of Everything’s Fine Stop Looking At Me, so I never talked to any of them about it, but it was so painful for me. I already felt small and gross and like his non-rapey perception of the incident was way more important than mine. The more I saw other people, especially other women, talking and laughing with him, the more I felt like that.
So, bad news: your choice to stay friends/friendly with him has consequences for the other women in your group, and for the other assault survivors/women who’ve spoken up in this threat.
The good news: your choice to treat him like a criminal and someone who doesn’t deserve to be friends with you (both of which are true) can be a really powerful statement to the people around you. It’s not going to fix this guy or change the past, but the act of being believed can mean so much to a survivor.
What you do here really matters, LW. I hope you know that.
This is very like my experience with my rapist and my social group. Mine ended up dating a friend, who is no longer a friend because she believed his word over mine, and told me that my experiences were irrelevant, because he was nice to her so there was no possible way he could have been horrible to me.
LW, good luck with your choices. It’s rough, I know. I was friends with mine after I knew he’d abused another of my friends, and he was pretty nice until he raped me, too.
The problem with the “but he would never rape me!” argument is that this is generally step one in any predator’s plan to victimize. Build trust and then blindside when you let your guard down.
I was raped by someone who I thought was safe. I ignored the fact that he was always talking about sexualized stuff. I rationalized his creepy behavior because he was also funny and was good at coming across as harmless.
And then he raped me.
If this rapist rapes you, everyone around you is going to say “but you KNEW he does this! Why did you let yourself be alone with him?”
The subtext being that it is the victim’s fault.
What do people expect a rapist to look and act like?
They do not announce themselves or wear discerning clothing that sets them apart.
Think of it this way- if he were a murderer and everyone knew but no one could actually prove it in a court of law because he was that good at gwtting away with it, would it matter how charming and well-behaved he was? You can’t get unmurdered or unraped. There are, on the other hand, many charming awesome people who are not also rapists.
I agree with the majority of comments on here saying that if LW believes the guy in question is clearly a rapist, he’s probably not worth being friends with.
But what to do in cases where one is unsure? Where she said rape, and he is disgusted and denies it vehemently? It still leaves me not trusting the guy entirely, and I wouldn’t want my female friends to date him since I don’t want to entirely discount the woman’s claims. But I don’t want to entirely discount the guy’s claims either, so I wouldn’t want to completely abandon a friendship.
Think about it this way: if you stop being friends with the guy in your scenario, the worst case scenario is the guy loses a friend and so do you. If you continue to be friends with him because ‘maybe she’s lying” (and lying about rape is rare, FYI), YOU ARE FRIENDS WITH A RAPIST.
The choice seems pretty clear to me…
My, that’s a lot of qualifiers — if he is *clearly* a rapist he’s *probably* not worth being friends with?
Or if all we have is the victim’s word and he says “I did not” vehemently enough (instead of confessing to a felony), you only don’t trust him *entirely*?
And you don’t want to *entirely* discount the woman’s claims (but mostly, just because he denied it?)
Do you even realize how strongly it comes across that you are prioritizing keeping the guy as friend over protecting women against rapists???
You’re saying HE gets the benefit of the doubt (like he is the one who has greater incentive to be truthful in that situation)… so basically, unless you actually saw the rape or someone happened to have caught it on video or the rapist confessed, you’re going to side with the dude.
Statistically, false rape accusations are actually very rare (despite what some sectors of the population would lead you to believe). Culturally we’re socialized to think of rape as being what happens when an innocent woman is walking through a dark parking lot at night and a scary thug wearing a ski mask attacks her, when that is just about the LEAST likely rape scenario in reality. The problem with this (well ONE OF MANY problems with this) is that it allows men WHO ARE RAPISTS to be totally convinced that they totally didn’t actually rape anyone, it was just an unfortunate misunderstanding or some similar line.
Basically, if you think a guy might be a rapist, or someone says a guy IS a rapist (WHETHER HE DENIES IT OR NOT), you’d do well to just head for the hills.
There are, in fact, plenty of men who will essentially say or think to themselves “I deliberately used alcohol/drugs/threats/force to get her to have sex with me but I’m not a rapist.” If you don’t use the word rape huge numbers of men (this was done in a college setting) will admit to it, even if they would never admit to themselves that it was rape.
There have been studies and it’s absolutely true. If you don’t phrase it as “rape”, a lot of men (who would never call themselves rapists) will self-disclose to having coerced and manipulated women, used physical force, gotten women intoxicated so that they couldn’t resist, basically most anything that IS rape, but that isn’t the “lurk in a dark parking lot, attack a woman and drag her behind a building” stereotype.
My two questions to myself, in that situation, would be:
1. Does one person have more incentive than the other to lie about this?
2. If I choose to believe [X] and I’m wrong, what are the consequences? What harm does that do, and to whom?
I mean, these are basically the questions I would ask myself in any “X’s word against Y’s” situation within a friend group. But I think the answers are more obvious than usual when an accusation of rape is involved.
1) That’s a good point I hadn’t fully considered.
2) That’s a good point I had fully considered, which is why largely I’ve chosen to believe my female friend and acted accordingly (offered what limited support I could given that we’re not super-close, disinvited my male friend from any future group gatherings, etc.) The one step I haven’t been able to bring myself to take is to cut myself off from my male friend entirely and throw away a decade-old friendship. I don’t invite him over to hang out any more, but we’re still Facebook friends and will occasionally stay in touch via comments on each other’s posts.
Anyway, I see the consensus from the other responses and can understand it, and with regards to my female friend I believe her, and I’m not inviting the guy to group gatherings ever again, but occasionally chatting with my male friend who I’ve known forever online, it’s just hard to believe he’d do something so awful, you know?
Thanks for the responses.
It being hard to believe that anyone you’ve known for so long would do anything so awful is exactly the reason that half my family has been sheltering a child molester for thirty five years. When he raped his daughter’s 15 year old friend, and was convicted of statuatory rape, the family built a meme that the girl just had “daddy issues.” When he molested his 6 year old relative and the boy’s mom moved to get away from her child’s abuser, all anyone would talk about was how much he missed “those babies” and how hard it was on him for their mother to take “his babies” away.’Cause having to suffer any ill effects at all for his actions makes him the victim. Because those of us who won’t be around him or have our children around him are just big drama causing meanies who can’t let go of the past. Riiight.
He has permanantly damaged at least three members of his own family, and at least one member of someone else’s family. Still they protect him, engage with him, act like things are just fine on his end, because they knew him before he was a child molester, and can’t imagine him (that little boy they knew) ever hurting anyone. Because he takes care of his mother when she’s sick. Because he’s a widower. Because he had cancer. Whatever excuse they need not to deal with the ugly parts of reality.
“But what to do in cases where one is unsure? Where she said rape, and he is disgusted and denies it vehemently? It still leaves me not trusting the guy entirely, and I wouldn’t want my female friends to date him since I don’t want to entirely discount the woman’s claims. But I don’t want to entirely discount the guy’s claims either, so I wouldn’t want to completely abandon a friendship.”
Either way, you’ll be abandoning a friendship–either with the man or the woman who said he raped her. Please read some of the comments in this thread and others by survivors who saw the man who sexually assaulted/raped them still be accepted into the group, and their own stories disbelieved because he insisted he didn’t do it/he’s a nice guy/you’re stirring up shit.
“She told you blah blah blah? What a bitch. She totally wanted it. She’s a slut anyway.” That is pretty much how any confrontation seems likely to end to me. Especially if you are bringing up certain incidents, so I don’t know if it is a confrontation worth having.
When they do studies of rapists in prison is to ask if they ever “had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances.” That’s apparently how most people we call “rapists” think of what they are doing. (Icky yuck.)
(I also HIGHLY recommend the letter writer read this post about rapists and their behaviors: http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/ This quote in particular: “The rapists can’t be your friends, and if you are loyal to them even when faced with the evidence of what they do, you are complicit.”)
I had to deal with an incident where a guy I was seeing where he went ahead and did something to me after I explicitly told him not to.
What I said to him the next day was about trust. I told him that he had violated my trust, and that I no longer had any confidence that he would treat me with respect. His inability to respect my boundaries meant that I would no longer see him in any capacity, and that I didn’t want him around my friends because he couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing.
I think that might be something that could be said to the LW’s rapist friend. He has shown himself to be untrustworthy. He can’t be trusted not to “take advantage” of women who are intoxicated. He can’t be trusted to control his behavior when he’s drinking. So he doesn’t get to be around anymore.
I had a second date with a guy who scared me into thinking he might try to PIV me without a condom. I told him later that I wouldn’t be seeing him again, because testing boundaries (or appearing to) is a predatory tactic.
Of course that meant I was the bad guy for saying “hey look, women generally will be freaked out when you do this to them, so don’t do that.”
Would he have raped me? I don’t know. But if you’ve made me wonder if I can trust you, I’m not going to stick around to find out.
testing boundaries (or appearing to) is a predatory tactic.
I wish I’d heard THIS bit of advice twenty years ago, let me tell you what. HEY, LISTEN UP, PEOPLE OF THE FUTURE.
Yes. So much this!
It would have saved me at least one emotionally abusive relationship had I understood it ten years ago, for sure. You know, the kind where the guy rapes you several times and YOU FEEL GUILTY.
I really should make a list of things to tell any daughters I ever have.
I wish this guy had threatened me with it so I could have gotten rid of it before he actually did it.
If only all the assholes had tattoos on their forehead like Raven in Snow Crash.
Gotten rid of HIM. Oy.
It would be “nice” if they all operated that way, giving you a chance to run for it.
Or heck, it would be REALLY NICE if they didn’t rape anybody or push any boundaries or take the lack of a no for a yes…!
I’m going to tell a long-ish story that is relevant to this and yesterday’s writers because it’s about what what happened to my group of friends when someone spoke out about being raped. Trigger warnings for rape abound.
In college and for about six years after I was in tight with a group of friends who I thought were the best friends I could ever have. Some of the men in this group were creeps and gropers and rapists like the ones described in today and yesterday’s letters – charming, funny, attractive, smart. But also? Rapists. The group forgave this behavior and wrote it off as drunken antics (booze and drugs, I realized later, were the bond that kept us together). The women might talk about how so-and-so had crawled into bed with us after a party and bothered us all night for sex, or warn each other to be careful around someone else because he is a known “gropey drunk,” but then we’d hang out with these same guys and maintain friendships or romantic relationships like there was nothing wrong with their behavior.
One night, a small group of friends went out for drinks and one of the men went home with one of the women because he didn’t want to drive drunk. He was well liked in our group, and he and the woman were good friends for years. He raped her that night. She called the police, and he actually ended up serving a small amount of jail time as a result.
Her decision to speak up and finally name and condemn the behavior so long accepted as normal tore the group apart. Two factions developed, one defending the rapist and one the woman. To my eternal shame, I stayed neutral. I was even a bride’s maid in a wedding where the rapist was the best man. I understand how that I did this because I had been raped once and groped and creeped on plenty by men that I considered to be among my best friends. I couldn’t take the rapist’s side, because there was no doubt in my mind that he did it. But if I took the woman’s side, I’d be acknowledging that this group of amazing friends were actually a bunch of rapists and rape apologists who didn’t take care of each other and among whom I didn’t and never had felt safe.
The end of the story is kind of anti-climactic. All of this happened around 1997. In 2000 I moved to another state for a job, and then moved to two more states for a boyfriend (now husband, and 100% unaffiliated with this group of friends) and then school, respectively. In the process, I cut ties with the old gang. I was Facebook friends with a lot of these folks for a brief time until pictures of the guy who raped me, showing him smiling and laughing with these friends at recent social events, starting popping up in my feed, and friend requests came in from the gropers and creepers, the guy who raped me, and the rapist from the story above. The old gang was still together, still forgiving and fostering rapists, still assuming I’d smile and pretend nothing had happened. I deleted my FB page for a number of reasons, but cutting this group out of my life again was a wonderful side effect.
The story does have a happy ending, though. I now have an amazing group of friends who identify as feminists and know what rape culture is. When one of our friends turned out to be a creepy, gropey drunk we cut him out of the picture. We would and do take care of each other. We believe each other. I feel truly safe. I’m happier with my friends now than I ever was before.
I hope all of the LWs find the strength to cut ties with rapists and rape apologists and find better friends.
Thanks for sharing this, Jenny. I’m glad you cut ties, moved on, and found a place where you’re treated the way you deserve to be – with love and respect.
I love how CA’s answer (and much of the discussion of the last post as well) is framed in terms of a level of tolerance – asking what exactly WOULD it take to stop being friends with this person? I am imagining a little punch card like I have from a froyo place that gets a mark every time someone is rapey. “Sorry, the rapist/creeper needs 10 holes in their card before we can unfriend them!”
While I’m not involved in situations like these, this concept of “Exactly how much am I required to tolerate before I stop being asked by myself or others to put up with someone’s bullshit” is so relevant, helpful, and widely-applicable for me.
To turn this into a FEELINGSCOMMENT: Captain Awkward, I love how you see the world, I love how you take situations apart, I love your blog, and I’m so glad it’s in my life.
And I managed to make it sound like my actual froyo card gets hole punches for rapey behaviors. I just meant that type of card! The actual one is for froyo only! That’s what I get for commenting from a phone.
This whole punch-card thing made me lolsob. The frantic clarification just made me lol.
I am lolsobbing as well because it was meant to be a ridiculous idea and then I realized I totally need a card like that to count how many times my MIL is a jerk so I can prove I don’t have to be around her that often. So the same idea in a different situation might sadly be useful to me.
I think commas would have been my friends there, yes.
Addendum (warning for triggers):
It took me a long time to admit that I was raped, even to myself. At first it was “he must have thought that I was flirting with him and that inviting him to sleep on the floor of my tiny college apartment that I shared with my husband was an invite for sex.”
Then it was “well we used to be in a relationship and I knew he was lonely and frustrated; what did I expect would happen?”
And he acted like nothing was wrong afterwards. We played some video games and I walked him to the bus stop. He even called me a week later to wish me a happy birthday and then called me a couple of times after and left whiny messages about how I hadn’t called him back and demanding why.
Finally, I had to admit to myself that he had waited until my husband went to work, then climbed on top of me while I was sleeping and started raping me. And when I woke up to that, my brain felt like it had disconnected and I disassociated and felt numb and far away. I could not fight or even move my body. And when he was finished, I went and cleaned up like a zombie.
It is still hard to write the words, and talking about it is even more challenging. But I know that every time I talk about it, the experience becomes less ambiguous and more clearky Wrong and Bad in my mind. And that at least is a small victory.
Thank you for sharing your story. There is a young girl in my community who was raped by her boyfriend… and when she accused him people took sides… and one of the things some people cited as part of their decision to disbelieve her and stay friends with him was that afterward (same day) she was hanging out with him and his friends acting like everything was ok. And the reason I knew to say “that doesn’t mean a damned thing*” is because of people like you, who have been brave enough to share their stories, so I knew there can be a denial phase when, as part of a short-term coping mechanism, your brain is frantically gaslighting the rest of you saying “that did *not* just happen,” “really, I’m perfectly ok…”
The other thing that threw me for a loop was that I did not feel like the Rape Victim stereotype. I still enjoyed consensual sex with my partner. I did not start cutting or self mutilating. I did not spend all day crying in the shower or binge on junk food.
The cultural narrative of what makes a rapist also dictates what makes a rape victim in the eyes of our society.
It is quite possible that LW has many friends who refused to out themselves as rape victims but who still have been raped. But like me, they may have done the analysis of how likely he would be legally punished vs how much more of a target for abuse from the media and so called friends for making a Scene with little evidence and a complicated past that involved consensual sex.
Even after raping me, he would be far mote likely to be viewed as a victim than me.
Well, for the record, I’m on *your* side!! He raped you. Whether or not you ever choose to take what he did to the legal system (and I can understand why you wouldn’t, given the poor prospects for vindication), he is a rapist.
I still can’t bring myself to call it that with mine. I had suggested I wanted to have sex after the first date; I went to his home and had no way to get home; I didn’t really say no, because then if he still ignored it I’d have no way to pretend I hadn’t been raped, it would be really real instead of just shitty consensual sex that made me cry when I went home.
I can’t even count the times I’ve said yes and wanted to say no because of this very reason.
Oh honey, I am so, so, so sorry. I hope you have a lot of supportive people around you.
Every small step…you’re further along than I am. Your rapist is definitely Wrong and Bad, and it was not your fault.
TW for rape.
That story so strongly reminded me of my own. I had an ex, she was staying with me for the weekend, there were drugs and history and obligation involved. We had breakfast with my friends after.
We weren’t in the same friend group, so no one shunned me or anything, thank god. And I didn’t tell anyone about it for five years.
I also hear you on the not-a-typical-Rape-Victim thing. I’d like to see a broader representation of experiences when talking about rape, to combat the SVU complex.
thank you, thank you. I do not consider what I’ve been through rape. sexual abuse, yes, but not rape. my ex would not have sex with me unless it was “mutual”, but would make me feel lower than the ground he trampled on if I didn’t give (or if I started to give him what he wanted, realized what I was doing and how much I didn’t want to do it, and finally got the gumption to stop.) he would stop, but would make me feel like complete and utter shit for stopping that sometimes I would keep going to keep that from happening. he rendered me voiceless. I was able to break it off with him…but after that happened, I couldn’t tell any other men “no.” if I had, they probably would have backed off. as far as they knew, I wanted it too…aside from begging for an exit through my eyes (and occasional tears), I could not say a word.
every time I had sex with any one of those guys, my mind detached, just like you said. and it was as though the experience wasn’t quite mine. it was, the memory was there. but, so very numb to it. I had to come to grips with the knowledge that he was repeatedly violating me, and manipulating me so that he could violate me again.
I had forgotten that. I don’t want to forget. I want to face it and be strong. I am far removed from that situation now, and if there’s any time to become strong, it is now. thank you, for being strong enough to post this and for reminding me.
Thank you for sharing this- it took me more than 2 days before I broke apart, I even hugged him goodbye. I was like a zombie from the point when it started until someone asked me the right question and I crumbled. In the rape crisis center they said it is incredibly common for women to go numb like that.
if I may… what was the “right question” they asked you?
so that when I come across another woman that has been through similar, maybe I can find the right question to ask them.
LW – You are the rapist’s ally.
As many others have said, you are the person this bastard is using to present himself as a good person. By continuing the friendship and supporting him, you support a rapist.
It is the widespread lack of condemnation for rape and general sexual assault when it isn’t “textbook” rape (i.e. stranger in the dark) that allows it to flourish. It is the lack of social consequences for breaking boundaries that encourages people to continue to do it. ALL of us have an obligation to back each other up on maintaining boundaries in all situations.
You are enabling a rapist to continue. And frankly, if you think you’re safe, you’re wrong, because it’s easily possible the other women this man has assaulted thought the same thing, right up until they were raped.
If your goal is to change things for the better, you might consider using your friendship as leverage to get him to take action. After you talk to him, you can think about what it will take for you to feel ethically okay with being in his life.
For example: “We can continue to be friends until you are next alone with a woman.”
For example: “We can continue to be friends if you enter rehab this month.”
For example: “We can continue to be friends if you fully cooperate with the police in convicting you of rape.”
Continuing to be friends with this guy, as things stand, just teaches him that he can rape and still have friends. If he won’t take action to correct his behavior, starting right now, then he can’t have a relationship with you, and you need to warn people about him so they can make their own decisions about whether to befriend a rapist.
When I read the letter I think that’s how I interpreted it — not as “He’s so great, how could he possibly have two faces?” but “If my influence could help somebody (not necessarily even him) than how is anyone helped by my walking away without explanation?” Because if one can’t out the victim, there obviously cannot be explanation.
That’s a shitty situation one way or another. Honestly, I would dread to be in it, because I probably would blame myself if something happened and I wasn’t there to intervene. Even though it doesn’t make objective sense to blame oneself for not being able to babysit a peer.
Reading this letter left me with a heavy feeling of anger and despair in my stomach.
My ex is charming, funny, and intelligent. He’s also a rapist and an abuser who uses his charisma to convince others that his victims are “crazy” or lying. He smashed another girlfriend’s head into a wall outside a restaurant and the people who were there are still friends with him. He raped and manipulated me for YEARS, and when I told people about it he told them I was crazy, and they all stopped talking to me.
People I am friends with go to events he attends. People I consider my friends will associate with him at events, because it’s not fucking important enough that he raped me. That he raped multiple women. That he hits women. They let him stay because they would rather ignore him than deal with the facts of what he’s done.
I’m sorry for spewing this in the comments but this shit is not okay. It’s not fucking okay to ignore a rapist’s crimes because of the way he acts towards you, in public, a fellow man. Fuck everything about that.
Thanks for keeping it real, Captain.
Oh, I am so sorry to hear this. Jedi Hugs if you want them.
*Jedi hugs* Thank you. It gets better every day, at least.
can I get in on this Jedi Hug party? that is not okay. reading your post is upsetting.
*Jedi group hug*
Because I can’t edit: This post inspired me to unblock my ex on Facebook so I could defriend everyone who is still friends with him. As shitty as it was to have to look at his face, now I have the satisfaction of being done with that. At the end of the month, I’ll be able to move out to live with people who are actually friends with me and who won’t associate with that psychopath. I’m done being tolerant of this bullshit.
I was just discussing a friend with this over chat. She’s also an ex of his, and confirmed that he did convince everyone I was crazy – he had convinced her that I was for years until she and I happened to become friends and allies. It hurts having that confirmed but you know what? Fuck all those people. I’m burning down the bridges as soon as I’m able.
I was never raped, just abused by my high school and college boyfriend. (I love how I say “just” abused.) I’ve been out of high school 19 years now, and it was only about a year or so ago that I started to realize the vast levels of anger that I had for everyone who stayed friends with him and believed his lies about me, the relationship, and what happened. And who had watched him abuse me and told me I was “too sensitive” and should just learn to laugh (at myself) when he tried to humiliate me in front of our mutual friends.
So, yeah. It’s okay to be angry! Which you know; the vehemence is me reminding myself. I wish I’d been angry enough to tell them everything then, rather than trying to be “the better person” and just not denying the lies he’d told.
I wish a lot of things, but, you know what? I’m making up for it now by never talking to them again.
The anger can be frightening. I’m less angry now than I used to be, but I still have days when I want nothing more than to commit a crime of vengeance. I’ve only made psychic solid ground for myself in the past year, so each analysis and insight I get is a big step forward. Each concrete step reminds me that I’m in control of my life. I know now that I can talk about this and survive, and feel angry and be okay.
I’m really happy for you, and that you’re getting in touch with those emotions. Processing them is painful but I think it’s made me a stronger and more aware person. Screw all those people who dismissed you!
People will get more angry with you for being angry than they will for the guy who did something to you that’s entirely likely to cause anger. What they did is they tone trolled you out of existence.
Ugh, I am so, so sorry and glad you’re able to move on from those people. The point you made in your comment is a very important one:
Predators/abusers do this SERIALLY. Chances are you are not their only victim/gaslighting object.
They count on the social circle to back up their narrative of events and make it difficult for whistleblowers.
Yes, thanks for making that explicit! The ex in question did this serially and sometimes at the same time, juggling multiple women he kept quiet through manipulation.
Predators/abusers do this SERIALLY. Chances are you are not their only victim/gaslighting object.
This point needs to be made over and over and over. Serial rapists are responsible for a lot of rapes, percentage-wise. Abusers find new victims. Allowing other people who are uncomfortable to confine an offense to a single incident erases this part of the reality.
It’s never about a single, isolated incident. There’s always a question of what else has happened, or could happen.
Hey letter writer, what if you found out that your friend had raped a kid? A three year old, say. Would you think, “how can I convince my friend not to rape babies unless I stay friends with him?” Or would you think, “Jesus Christ, I cannot be friends with someone who rapes babies. Who didn’t just do it once. Whom I’ve seen with my own eyes try to grab kids when he’s drunk. That’s fucking horrible, I cannot be around him.”
If you’d be horrified by someone who rapes babies, how old does his victim have to be before you just don’t care that much? Three? Six? Ten? Fifteen? Twenty? Twenty-five?
I’m glad you wrote in for advice because I understand that this guy is not following the “script” we have in our brains for “rapist.” And it sounds like, around you anyway, he’s not even following the script for “creeper.”
I don’t know if this will help, but I think it might.
I don’t personally know, but I know from a friend about an actual case of an actual reformed rapist, and his social group and how they interact with him, perhaps this can help you spot the differences between “former rapist” and “currently hunting for his next victim rapist”
This guy was still a teenager, and when the girl told her family what happened, he confessed his part completely, and then him and his family went directly to the police and he told the police straight up what happened.
He served jail time.
After he got out of jail he moved back in with his family.
His family loves him, but they want to make sure this never happens again so:
When they meet someone new, his past is disclosed, there is no “it happened because of [excuses, reasons etc..]”
He is never alone with possible targets. He has fully agreed to this and does not try to get around these conditions.
When he gets older and wants some freedom from living with parents, he gets an apartment with a friend who knows what happened, so he can’t bring targets back there.
People at his work, people who hang with mutual friends, people who know and hang with his family are all told soon into the relationship and also told that it is totally cool if they don’t want to be around him or further the relationship.
Also important: he gets counseling.
So, your friend who has disclosed to you that he is a rapist does he:
Take steps to avoid similar situations? Disclose openly what happened, tell people before they are great buddies with him what happened so they can feel free to shut down the friendship before they are too invested? Quickly get himself to AA so that he can avoid being drunk around possible targets? Get himself to the police and confess everything that happened because he broke the law and needs to be held accountable for it?
And further, when you see him stepping over the line while drunk, do you say “Hey sorry, my friend is totally stepping over the line and he has raped people while drunk before, let me get him away from you.” Or “Oh, [rapist] you get so handsy when drunk, lets just step off for a while”
Because even if you are Trying to Do the Right Thing, you are still normalizing his behavior, and other girls might think “Oh, he just gets a little handsy when drunk but he backs off when told, I’ve seen it happen” and then he probably won’t back off when day when you aren’t around, and guess what? You’ve just played into HIS narrative.
And I do think “Meet the rapists” very good and informative for you to read, and I know this is a terrible and triggering narrative for some people to read, but might I also recommend googling “confessions of a serial rapist” that showed up on reddit? I understand if you don’t want to read it, because: Gross. But I think it might be helpful to you to hear that mindset.
You aren’t actually this guy’s friend, you are part of his story, you are “girl who would probably have my back if something happened” or “girl who thinks everything is just because of alcohol and therefore it is not still a horrible thing for some reason” He might be friendly to you, but he is not your friend, you are his dupe in the story of his life about how he was so good at fooling people that he could rape with no consequences.
“Because even if you are Trying to Do the Right Thing, you are still normalizing his behavior, and other girls might think “Oh, he just gets a little handsy when drunk but he backs off when told, I’ve seen it happen” and then he probably won’t back off when day when you aren’t around, and guess what? You’ve just played into HIS narrative.”
If he rapes women, he needs to get arrested or placed in counseling of some sort, like Alcoholics Anonymous and some other kind of counseling. I read something in my Social Work Practice textbook about a man who whenever he feels moody seeks to fondle young girls, and he had counseling where the counselor suggested ways to curb that behavior. Letting this behavior go and trying to resolve everything yourself is really not enough, and his behavior is not acceptable.
Ok…LW I think you need a bit of a reality check. If you are a man, you need a “Holy male-privilege batman!” check. Because what the rapist did is NOT OK. But what you are doing- NOT OK and the definition of rape culture.
As a woman, being friends with a rapist isn’t even something I would consider to be a possibility. And- to be honest- if I were in your group of friends, we would not be friends. I had a super close friend once talk to me about how his ex got groped at a party. And he was mad at his ex for not fighting back enough etc. That one conversation nearly destroyed our entire friendship. The only reason we are still friends is that when I gave him the “what the fuck do you mean you’re made she didn’t fight back?” speech, he actually listened, and realized how totally blind he was to rape culture, and what it was like to be a woman in a world where rape is ok.
Since then he has done a complete 180 on anything related to rape and sexual assault…and yet if I were ever raped I would not want to tell him.
LW, you are in dangerous territory here. You know this guy raped women. You aren’t just ignoring it- you are friends with him. You are supporting him. To me, there is very little difference between what you are doing and announcing to him (and all your female friends who have been attacked) that rape is OK. Forget about his friendship and worry about being a decent human being with friends who are also decent human beings!
Let me tell you a hypothetical story. I have this friend named Joe. Joe is super nice and funny and awesome when we are together. We have tons of fun. But Joe is racist. I know, because when I am with the friends in our group who are black, he makes racist and inappropriate comments. And I know he has physically attacked several of my black friends when he is alone with them. But DUDE- he was DRINKING. And he is a NICE GUY. And FUN. And calling him on this would be awkward. So really, all I have to do is keep him from drinking. I don’t have to use the word racist. He’s just “stupid”, right?
Now replace “Joe” with your friend and “racist” with “rapist”. SO NOT OK. So please, make this your wake up moment. Right now, you aren’t necessarily an ass. You are just blinded by rape culture and privilege (you are privileged if you can ignore rape, regardless of what sex you are). But if you KEEP being friends with him, and keep ignoring rape after it has been pointed out to you…well you go from from a dude/girl who is blinded by rape culture to a dude/girl who is SUPPORTING it.
I don’t think you have to name names- you aren’t trying to win an argument. But if I were you- I wouldn’t just exit, I would try to blow that rapists smokescreen to hell. You don’t need to name names to say “You are a rapist. That is not Ok.” You do not need to name names to tell every female friend that rapist has that he is a rapist, and they are not safe with him. Being friends with him is supporting rape culture. To me, just walking away is ignoring it. You need to speak up if you want to end it.
LW, as someone who was gotten drunk at a party and raped aged 15, by a friend of the family, I’d like to add to the list of people pointing out that yet more damage is done to survivors by all the people who decide that their sexual assault just isn’t that big a deal. They don’t doubt that something ‘a bit off’ might have happened, but they just don’t care *enough* or believe it was bad *enough* to punish the guy. Women have a lot of ‘sex’ they don’t want or like, after all. Happens all the time. Buyer’s remorse, and all that. Especially if they’re drinking – why ruin a guy’s life over something he did when he was drunk, for god’s sake! (And so on ad extreme nauseam.)
The guy who raped me was young, good-looking, charming, and also newly married, so very few believed I hadn’t been a willing party. And the few who did didn’t care enough to even stop talking to him. People I thought were my friends still invite him to parties. I ran into him once or twice before I realised that people who didn’t think him raping me was a biggie weren’t my friends. It killed me inside by little bits to see people I thought cared about me making backslapping small talk with the guy who raped me. That’s what the women in your group that your rapist friend raped see – everybody else smiling and making nice with him. They go into spaces they thought were friendly, and they’re sucker-punched every time. How about making your home a safe space?
You should really listen to the folks here who are telling you that staying friends with this guy is enabling his behavior and supporting rape culture in your community. That’s true. Here’s another thing that’s true:
This man is manipulating you. Run.
Every second you spend with him is a second that you will look back on with regret when it all clicks and you realize how very badly you’ve been played. Run. Being friends with this man is going to start fucking up your life and your friendships in ways that will be increasingly harder to repair.
So get the fuck out. Now.
Go see a therapist. Tell them everything. Vent. Excavate the numerous ways he’s manipulating you. Get angry. Scream. Cry. Block him on Facebook, cut him out of your address book, and burn him out of your life forever.
Your life will improve, I promise. There are nine billion people on this Earth, and nearly every single one of them would be a better friend than him.
Okay, so, let me get this straight. You enjoy this guy’s company and he hasn’t raped anyone that you actually like, so right now this is not exactly a #1 priority for you, but it is making you feel funny and making you think that possibly this is not reflecting on you in the best of ways.
I’m not sure zero-tolerance approach towards the friendship is going to change anything for the better.
So the standard here is what, exactly? Saying “Hey, I hear you’re a rapist! don’t do that again or we can’t be friends anymore!” and having him say OH GOD YOU’RE SO RIGHT I’M SORRY IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN! Because, yeah, I am pretty sure that isn’t going to happen.
Would I do well to modify our friendship?
From “do whatever as long as it’s to women I don’t like” to… what? “We’re still friends, but you gotta know that I hate it when you rape women”? Because I don’t actually see how that does much for this situation except for making you feel better.
Do I bring it up out of nowhere and see if I can make him more aware of his behavior?
Is this code for “If he actually KNEW that what he was doing was rape, he wouldn’t do it”? because I am pretty sure that a) he knows damn well, b) if he’s pretending not to know that his behavior = rape, then he’s invested in his rationalizations, and c) what, exactly, are you expecting to happen if he does admit that what he did was rape? Again, OH GOD YOU’RE SO RIGHT I’M SORRY IT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN is not on the table.
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’?
Well, I’m not sure. I’m not sure what you’re hoping to get out of this. I know you see value in this guy’s friendship, but right now you are broadcasting “Yeah, whatever, he rapes women, but their lives are SO MUCH LESS IMPORTANT than the awesome conversations I get to have with him!” That is what you look like right now. That is what people who know about this guy see in you.
Congratulations, you are currently Joe Paterno to his Jerry Sandusky. And hey, that might be your in! “So, you know about Jerry Sandusky, right?” “Yeah, why?” “I’m not your Joe Paterno. Find someone else to keep your secrets safe and cover up for you. We’re done talking from now on.”
Is there anything I can do about the awkwardness?
Whose awkwardness? Yours, in that you’re actually calling him out on being a rapist, or God help me please don’t actually be saying “I would tell him that I know he’s a rapist, except that I don’t want him to feel weird about it,” because I would have to just leave the earth right now and move to Mars.
Are there any ways to make this situation better for me and for other women I know?
See the above: right now, you are telling the world that you value this guy’s contribution to your life– being a charming conversationalist– is way more important than, you know, how he RAPES WOMEN sometimes. Possibly he has done something bad to someone that you actually like, and you just don’t know about it because they figure you’re already on his side, so why bother?
You can’t actually get him to wear a t-shirt all the time that says HI, I RAPE WOMEN! SHUN ME! and you can’t follow him around, quietly warning every woman he talks to, so the best you can do is to shun him yourself and let people know why, and to say that this kind of behavior is NOT. FUCKING. COOL. and that you will drop assholes like that from your social circle. Letting it have no social consequences for him doesn’t just enable him, it encourages potential rapists who see this pattern and realize that they can just go ahead because it’s not like there’s a down side for them! It discourages women from saying anything when they’re sexually assaulted– not just by your charming friend, but by anyone. It normalizes the idea that this is the kind of thing we put up with in our friends, and makes everyone comfortable with continuing to do exactly what they’re doing, and that’s how more women get raped and that’s why they don’t say anything about it.
Yeah, it’s awkward to make waves. I’m sorry that’s going to suck for you. It’s true that it sucks more for the women he rapes! but that’s not exactly an incentive if you’re not feeling the threat yourself, and there’s always that “but saying something will make me look like I’m overreacting!” fear. So here’s the thing: you can’t ask people to trust you if you’re willing to overlook rape as a minor character flaw. You’re not trustworthy right now, but you could be. It’s your choice.
“you can’t ask people to trust you if you’re willing to overlook rape as a minor character flaw”
I like that.
Congratulations, you are currently Joe Paterno to his Jerry Sandusky. And hey, that might be your in! “So, you know about Jerry Sandusky, right?” “Yeah, why?” “I’m not your Joe Paterno. Find someone else to keep your secrets safe and cover up for you. We’re done talking from now on.”
Oh my. That is brilliant. I hope this metaphor makes it out into the wild.
Carbonatedwit, I just wanted to say, I love this comment. I actually might be able to apply it to my own real-life situation so I’m stealing it, if that’s okay.
And word to everything Captain Awkward has said. WORD.
I am simultaneously laughing and crying right now. Laughing because you’ve made your point with blistering, unerring, and hilarious precision; and crying because I am so sad that most people, myself included, can read/hear something like what LW wrote and not even realize the wrongness of the culture that lies underneath it.
I find myself wanting to say “What is this I can’t even”.
You *know* your friend is a rapist. Yeah, that sucks. Your charming, funny friend raped someone and sexually assaulted someone else.
If it helps to understand what he’s doing, consider that Gavin de Becker says that charm is an acquired skill. Many people, good and bad, have learned to be charming. Charm is a useful tool for getting what you want and getting people to like you, nothing more, nothing less.
Doing nothing is not neutral. Doing nothing is saying to those people who have told you that your friend is a rapist, including (it sounds like) one of his victims, that you don’t care what he did to them and that being friends with him is more important than showing zero tolerance for an unrepentant rapist.
It sounds to me like you think that as long as you can stop him creeping on other women and getting drunk, you’re keeping potential victims safe while helping him overcome his rapey tendencies. You aren’t. Losing your friendship sends a stronger message than anything you say or do while remaining his friend. And by staying friends with him you’re sending a giant fuck you to the women he’s raped – who may not just be the women you *know* about (hey, they might even be other friends of yours, rather than women you don’t like).
I’m kind of hoping we’re being trolled. Because, oy.
I’m guessing you’re probably feeling kind of crappy and a little defensive right now, LW, so here’s another way to look at it.
Let’s say you really care about your rapist friend so much you can’t bring yourself to drop him. Let’s say you really believe that you can help to change him if you remain his friend.
And let’s really give your friend the benefit of the doubt and say that, in the face of all evidence against him and everything we know about who rapists are and how they operate, that he somehow isn’t a predatory person or whatever.
Right now? You’re being a bad friend.
Imagine if we weren’t talking about Your Friend, The Rapist. Imagine it’s Your Friend, The Kleptomaniac Hoarder. He’s a really fun guy, great to be around, lovely to talk to. But his house is horrible. It stinks, there’s so much stuff in it you have to stand in one spot and avoid touching surfaces when you visit, and you feel creeped out when he offers you something to eat or drink there. And sometimes, little things go missing from the houses of other people he visits, only to turn up in one of the piles in his house.
But he’s a fun guy, and so nice, and he’s never stolen anything from you. So you think that by ignoring the mess and tolerating his house, and by just gently keeping an eye on him and stopping him from taking other people’s stuff when you’re around, you’re helping him. Sure, maybe he sometimes still takes stuff from people, and he’s had a near-constant chest infection for weeks now from all the dust and bacteria in his home, but it’s okay. It’d be super awkward to try and address this properly, right?
If you cared about your Kleptomaniac Hoarder friend and wanted to help him change, you’d take action. You’d encourage him to get therapy. You’d lead him towards support groups for recovering hoarders. And maybe you’d even contact social services or the letting agency he rents from. But if you do that he might lose his home! But that might also be the push that gets him into therapy and gets him the help he needs. And maybe you might need to issue some ultimatums. Like, you won’t come to his house until he starts to try and fix it. Yes, it will be awkward, and yes it will be difficult, but if you actually gave half a shit about HIM, you’ll take the hard route that involves doing what’s best.
Right now, you’re helping no one. You’re not protecting women from him – because you cannot, absolutely cannot, watch him 24/7. You’re not helping him get better. You’re not helping yourself.
It should go without saying that I think you’re a fool to think your rapist friend is the rape equivalent of the kleptomaniac hoarder. Rape isn’t generally something that a person can do by accident, or without meaning to, or in the heat of the moment. It’s a deliberate, predatory act and the sort of people who do it tend to be predatory, manipulative people. But if you’re really, truly invested in believing that your friend is somehow NOT like that? Then the only other option is that your friend has something seriously wrong with them. And a problem like that cannot be addressed by simply ignoring it.
True. But then there’s the fear of retaliation thing. Maybe cutting him off really is the best of no good options.
well then there’s the question of how much they care about this friend, and if they’re willing to make as much of a huge sacrifice to help their friend overcome this huge issue – potentially severing damaging their friendship to do it. possibly repairable in the future, possibly not. it’s a gamble.
if it were me, with any major issue in a situation in which I genuinely cared about them and wanted them to get better (I’m not on a rapist discussion right now at all), I would be doing everything in my power to help. I can’t say that I would be strong enough to say “I will do what it takes to help them, even if it means we can’t be friends, at least for a while”. …but I do wish that I were that strong.
Wow. This is pretty horrible.
LW, it seems like a lot of this stems from you not understanding that rape is a big deal. Not a minor annoyance. Not a gray area. It’s one of the most horrible things someone can do.
Read accounts of rape survivors, like the ones in the comments above, and try to understand. Don’t try to write it off or pretend that it’s not that bad. Try to understand how awful that experience is.
Rape isn’t okay just because you “strongly dislike” the victim.
I don’t. . . I can’t even. . .
Perhaps you are right and I will end up being in the wrong for giving LW the benefit of the doubt, but I thought the point of that was merely that a private conversation seems unlikely…if LW dislikes them there’s a chance they dislike LW right back and wouldn’t understand why LW suddenly wanted to chat. Possible? No? I just think if LW really thought it was okay or not a big deal, this letter would not have been sent, or even written.
LW, imagine if you had written this to Captain Awkward:
I have a friend who rapes dogs. I’m pretty sure he raped a dog I know. I heard from someone credible that he is not nice to another dog I know. He’s always nice to me–in fact, I enjoy his company. Should I be friends with the animal abuser?
How would you answer yourself?
Good grief. I really think this comment should be shared in big letters all over the internet. Nailed it.
This is so depressing on so many levels. People like dogs. Rape is the only crime where the mere act of accusing someone of it means that the victim is found to be deserving of being so victimized, or in popular language, ‘getting raped’. (Note the passive phrase there. “I got poison ivy. However, men DECIDE to rape women.)
People don’t like women. Each and every women starts out in a hole that has to be filled in by appeasements to society so she can merely be tolerated. If LW is a woman, she’s afraid of being dumped in a new hole; if LW is a man, he just revealed that dogs matter more than women. Maybe he values some women—but they’re exceptions. He, too, is making some choices.
I think I’m a little devastated that your example works and works well.
I was thinking about this last night in terms of serial killers. Do you want to be THAT PERSON who writes to the serial killer in jail and gets married to them? Hopefully not.
The man who raped me still has many female friends who were my friends. When what happened to me became public among that group of friends, everyone backed him up because he was so nice, so fun, such a good friend, and I was just the golddigging ex-wife out to hurt him in the divorce, and clearly he was in so much pain, and how come I had stayed married to him if he had raped me, and so on and so on.
Every time I see someone say “but he’s such a great guy,” I shrink in on myself. I look out the window of my home in a state far away from where my rapist lives, and I get agoraphobic. Because I have to watch out for myself. Because I didn’t do it well enough before, according to the people who used to be my friends but turned their back on me when I had the poor taste to voice what a great guy had done to me. Because so many people have his back, and no one who knew both of us have mine. I do have new friends, some of whom knew me as I was escaping that situation, friends who helped me find a way to my own life free of him. Except I’m not really free of him. I remember him every time someone defends a rapist and reminds me that being friends with a great guy is more valuable to many people than telling a rapist that what he did was wrong and inexcusable.
LW, I am telling you this so that you can think on that, and what it feels like for the victims of rapists when someone in your position expresses reluctance to end a friendship with a rapist. It hurts.
Gawd, Molly, I’m so sorry.
Thanks. I’m aware that I’m still in recovery, and there are some days when I deny to myself that I was raped (because there wasn’t physical force, we were married, not to mention the fact that ALL OUR FRIENDS DIDN’T BELIEVE ME), but I am in much better mental space than I was back then.
If telling my story helps fight rape culture in some way, then I’m glad I spoke up. Most of the time I can’t manage it.
I’m so so so sorry. You didn’t deserve what happened to you, and you definitely deserved better from your friends.
Thanks. I’m in a better place now. Surviving that situation has affected my behavior and coping skills in ways that I don’t always realize, and I’ve caused pain to people because of that. That angers me too, that through his actions, he’s still affecting my relationships with my friends (though of course it’s still my actions that did the hurting, and my actions that need altering). At least the friends I have now are much more understanding.
Something I ran into a lot when telling those friends I could not maintain friendships with people who were still friends with him, was that I was being manipulative and abusive by telling them who they could be friends with (along with the usual “I don’t want to pick sides”). That’s something that’s also hard for a survivor to hear, because I had already heard that from the man who raped and abused me, so it sounded like confirmation in my ears. I wish I’d had better knowledge of how rape culture works at the time and how this was all part of it. There are a lot of ways that friends of victims and their rapists can continue to harm the victims as they pretend they’re being neutral.
Thank you for your blog.
Your choosing to end certain relationships is hardly telling anyone else what to do. That’s projection. Here’s the thing: you are a sign of contradiction to them. You can’t help but indict them in their mistaken views or their spinelessness. Neutrality is not possible, because neutrality is itself a choice against justice. They *are* picking sides, whether they think they are or not. And it isn’t your side, clearly.
You know, I was thinking about this some more, and this aspect of it just blew me away:
Usually, when a woman says “That man raped me,” the problem is that people don’t believe her. Because rape is so awful that if they believed her they’d have to, like, do something about it, or at least think less of the guy, or something.
But you believe. You just aren’t sure whether you should care.
You aren’t sure whether you should care. That your friend raped at least two women.
Go read the Survivor Thread. The original post, and all 359 comments. Every. Single. Damn. One. And then think again about whether or not you care that your friend is a rapist.
I’m going to stop here because I don’t think I can keep it clean and above-the-belt, per the Captain’s instructions, if I go on.
It hit me in so many ways when reading this, all the ways it’s never the victims’ fault.
if a woman goes out in a thunderstorm and flies a kite and gets hit by lighting, then, yes, she bears the responsibility of being imprudent.
if a woman is raped by man, there is nothing that she’s done that can shift his decision to rape her on to herself. he chose to rape her because he’s a rapist, not because she did anything to make him rape.
Crikey. Any mates who are murderers, or would you draw a line there?
Well there was this ONE guy, but he was kind of a douche so i don’t think it really counts? It’s morally ambiguous, at the very most.
I’m not sure why but when I saw the LW’s thought processes, I was reminded of the stuff I read in more mainstream advice columns all the time. “X did Y to me, does that count as abuse?” Where it’s specifically a woman distrusting her instincts about a man. The underlying message of those letters is “It’s not fair if I just reject him, I have to find a *reason*. If you say it ‘is’ abuse then I get to leave him, otherwise I have to stay.”
I feel like the LW putting the man’s experience above the woman’s is another part of that. Like “it’s mean to shun him, and I can’t be mean” is crappy, but it’s also not just a contextless thought. When she asks “how can I make it better for the women I know” with the silent caveat “(without making the man unhappy)”, that’s straight from the cultural playbook “women have to be nice and tolerant and put up with stuff”.
I may be reading too much into the letter, but I feel like this is the first time that LW has come up against the contradictions inherent in that worldview. “Be nice to men, and they won’t hurt you, and that’s working out for me so far, so I won’t dump him, except I keep having this angry thought that what he did was *wrong*.” Yes. You will have to choose. Do you put up with crap or do you do something about it?
When she asks “how can I make it better for the women I know” with the silent caveat “(without making the man unhappy)”, that’s straight from the cultural playbook “women have to be nice and tolerant and put up with stuff”.
I was thinking about that, myself, after posting my other comment. This stuff is not easy, and we really, really, really are socialized to avoid making waves, particularly when the people that would impact are, well, men. It involves making men angry and hurt and uncomfortable because of something a woman says and/or does, and the existing social rules are 1) DO NOT DO THAT, EVER, and 2) IF YOU DO THAT, BACK DOWN AND APOLOGIZE IMMEDIATELY.
Women doing things without giving a damn about how it affects the men is downright heretical. We are not often taught to be leaders, to make our own decisions and stand by those decisions even when other people think we’re being mean and snobby and wrong, and therefore it’s really hard to stand up and say “you know what? I’ve weighed the options, and even in a he-said/she-said case I’d rather side with a liar than with a liar who rapes people.” Because that’s going to piss a man off. It’s probably going to piss other guys off. It will cause drama. It will mean other people, both men and women, trying to talk us out of it because oh dear God what about what HE is feeling?
It isn’t easy. But this is a topic that ought to cause people to consider being a leader instead of a follower, and dealing with the fallout.
Long time lurker, first time commenter. When i opened up this link i thought it would be a case of the “i am socially obligated to interact with a rapist because of social function/what the victim wants/some professional reason” not “i’m choosing to socially interact with a known predator of my own volition because his personality is just so super duper it is irreplaceable in my life”.
The first would be really interesting to discuss, the second means you are the problem. Other commenters have noted how devestating “picking sides” can be. You don’t like those women he assaulted? Rest assured now they’ll never like you. How about your other lady friends? Do they know you’re friends with a rapist? When my friends are friends with *any* predators–nevermind if they preyed on me–it means they’re the enemy. It means they have either a piss poor understanding of what that does to a person or do know and just can’t be bothered to care. It means they’re okay with someone potentially doing that to me or any other friends.
Most of us don’t get to pick and choose that a predator only preys on people we conveniently don’t like. And hell, the fact you not liking them enters into this at all should require a harsh look at your ethical center.
Oh and sweety? Alcohol doesn’t magically change men into slathering beasties with an insatiable sexual appetite. Drugs don’t have free will or feelings or consciousness. Men are not all at their essense rapists waiting for alcohol to lower their inhibitions enough to go through with it.
As noted in the creeper post, you *should* be feeling bad and uncomfortable. You’re friends with a known rapist.
Now that i’ve established myself as a ray of sunshine now would probably be a good time to end.
Alcohol doesn’t magically change men into slathering beasties with an insatiable sexual appetite.
Apart from the fact that being really horny != wanting to rape people. Rape isn’t sex in any way, shape or form.
Quote disappeared. So: first paragraph is a quote from Marni Jane.
I do not disagree, but it seemed to me that what LW was struggling with more is the idea that (s)he could have some moderating influence on this person. Which is probably an unsustainable fantasy, but one I can understand.
You know, I drink enough that you could probably accurately call it ‘a drinking problem.’ I’m not proud of everything I’ve done while I was drunk, either. I’ve embarrassed myself in front of people I wanted to like me; I’ve started big arguments about really stupid shit.
You know what I’ve never done, though? I’ve never assaulted anyone. I might be a drunk, but I’m not a predator.
Your friend does not have a drinking problem, or if he does, it’s secondary (like, way, way secondary) to his ‘being a rapist’ problem. That’s what needs to be solved. Not the drinking.
I get that it’s hard to give up a friend, but by pretending that his sense of humor or his manners or whatever are more important than the fact that he’s assaulted more than one woman (that you know of), you are enabling him. You are helping him hurt people. You need to stop that.
In vino; veritas.
I drink what can only be described as ‘too much’. I don’t rape people; yo. I also do not punch people when drunk nor do I weep in a corner when drunk. This is because I am not rapey or violent or depressed when I am sober.
I am myself, only drunker. This is not always a good thing; I am sometimes too loud and selfish and opinionated and have a habit of making crappy knob gags. But I do not fundamentally change as a human.
Neither does the rapist. He just cares less about the social inhibitions (what will my mother-in-law think if I say “That’s what she said!” after every other sentence?! What about the calories in this entire pizza? How likely am I to get into trouble if I rape this person?)
Drunken rapists are rapists that are drunk, not nice guys with a skinful.
I just want to clear up some misconceptions I’ve read here about mental illness. Mental illness is neither an excuse nor justification for committing crimes. It is simply an explanation for why SOME people commit crimes, and if we’re lucky an avenue to preventing that person from committing more crime. Regardless of your mental or emotional state you are FULLY responsible for whatever heinous act you commit. It’s estimated that 20% of people in prison have bi-polar disorder and will serve out their sentences in the same capacity as those w/out mental illness. Also, the idea that people with mental illness do not have the ability to plan their crimes is false. SOME mental illness is about impulse control, and some is about a complete disconnect from social norms. It takes all kinds.
I also take issue with the “garden variety rapist” attitude. That sounds like some “boys will be boys” nonsense. I have an image in my mind of someone saying, “Yep, we live in a rape culture” and shrugging their shoulders like whataya gonna do? UHM no. There are some seriously mentally and emotionally disturbed people running around, and some of those people are rapists, and need to get some serious help immediately if not be removed from society totally (which I would prefer). Like anything else, we as a society need to be more knowledgeable about this issue so that we can prevent crimes and protect eachother.
That said, I completely agree with the Captain. LW needs to confront “friend” (I can’t think this person is actually your friend, although you may be a friend to him). If he refuses or denies the accusation, CUT HIM OFF! He poses a serious threat to yourself and women around you and if he’s not willing to admit that, then he is a more serious threat to your safety and well being as he has gone through the complex mental and emotional manipulation required to live with himself after committing these crimes. I say crimes because I doubt that he has only raped on person.
If he admits to what he has done and expresses remorse then, as a condition of whatever type of association you have with this person require that he seek consistent mental health support and attend AA. Alcohol is many times used as a tool to numb a person to their crimes. Jeffrey Dahmer used to get drunk before he killed. The minute he stops seeing a therapist or going to AA, CUT HIM OFF! He is out of control and if he isn’t seeing a professional, it’s only a matter of time before you are attacked.
Also, NEVER allow him into your home again, NEVER be alone with him, DO NOT go to events in which he will be attending and there will be drink involved. If he shows up, you leave as soon as possible. Do not invite him to events where there are other women who may be vulnerable to his predatory behavior. Don’t for a second think that you can let your guard down and be “safe” with him. It’s not true. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that he’s “cured” or whatever. He may never “cured”. IF he stops raping people, he will likely have to struggle against that for his entire life. These warnings apply whether he is seeking professional help or not.
Essentially, continuing to be friends with this guy will require A LOT of work, heartache, and still may not work out. Is it worth it?
I’m not as eloquent as the rest of the commentariat here, so I’m going to suggest a couple of links:
First, I strongly suggest going to this blog entry:
A Few Things to Stop Doing When You Find a Feminist Blog
and scrolling down to the topic “I Don’t Want To Say I Was Abused Or Raped Because That Cheapens Abuse and Rape/Some Girls Ruin It For The Rest Of Us”
This is in response to “but he only raped women I don’t like.”
I would also like to submit:
Another Thing I Could Do Without
as yet another response to the whole idea of staying friends with someone who is a rapist.
Others here have responded in much more eloquent ways, but I find Harriet J’s blog to be really excellent on this topic (in fact, I strongly recommend that the LW go to Fugitivus and read ALL the posts on rape. Every single one).
Although I do not actually think the LW is likely to read as far as my comment; I have zero faith in people who are willing to be friends with rapists. Still, perhaps someone here will find these links useful.
Harriet J. is for sure the best person writing about this, ever. Thanks for the links.
The problem with trying to change or help a friend is that it’s really damn hard. The friend has to pull his own weight in this, because you cannot single-handedly make him change. Just standing by as his personal Jiminy Cricket and going, “Hey, you shouldn’t drink tonight,” or “How about you don’t rape that lady” isn’t going to accomplish much unless the friend, himself, is ready to change. And this is a different thing than your friend being willing to put on an act of penitence and talk about his AA meetings without trying to change, to quiet your conscience and keep you around.
This is the Darth Vader friend. YOU CAN SEE THE GOOD IN HIM. But also? He just blew up Alderaan. Choose wisely.
I have someone in my life whom I know is a sex offender currently awaiting trial. I dearly love this person and want the best for them–but right now, the same traits that make them a sex offender are making them self-centred, selfish, and hurtful to their family and friends. All I can do is support the people around them, and we work together to remind ourselves that we are not responsible for this person’s behaviour. We cannot change them, and we don’t have to stay around and “help”. We only get to decide whether we will engage long enough to provide resources and support for positive change, or duck out until they stop being an asshole. We get to decide that we can’t condone their behaviour and walk away. (And it helps that this person isn’t a rapist, but instead someone who committed a misdemeanour. Even still I had to wrestle with whether or not I could be okay with staying around them.)
It’s that person’s choice to go to therapy or Sexaholics Anonymous, to do stepwork or not, or to not sexually offend. I can’t do a damn thing, and my career is about helping people change in positive ways. And like I said above, for any kind of sexual predator to try to unfuck their head enough to not want to offend does take years of active work on their part. That means years of watching this guy struggle, and possibly rape more women, in the best possible circumstance.
So given my own circumstances, I don’t feel I can tell the LW what to do. I still have a relationship with the sex offender in my life, so I don’t have the DTMFA high ground. But I will say, from an informed perspective: sticking around really, really sucks.
“This is the Darth Vader friend. YOU CAN SEE THE GOOD IN HIM. But also? He just blew up Alderaan. Choose wisely.”
So very well said. (And, Luke? Was that final moment of deathbed conversion really worth getting yourself and your friends tortured repeatedly?)
A friend of mine went to university not knowing anyone else going to the same institution, and so (as typically happens) made friends on his course and through his accommodation. One of the best friends he made out of this situation was not unlike the example you gave, LW. By the end of the first year, the friend was arrested on child pornography charges.
People who have done (or even more worryingly, continue to do) terrible things are not necessarily socially inept. In fact, being fun and charming can make doing terrible things (and getting away with them) easier. The way to counteract this is to not make it easy for them to get away with it. That person should lose friends over this, they should have concrete consequences to try and get it through to them that it is not okay. Losing friends would ideally be the least of them.
Them being cool and so much fun to hang out with only makes it more important if nothing else that you do let this matter, and not brush it off.
My rapist split women into two categories, sluts and datable women. He told people what girls he thought belonged in which category. And he raped or molested every woman in our friends group that fell into his slut category, and no one said anything to him about it. This guy is a predator.
Very strong reminder that people who talk hatefully about women do indeed hate women and will act accordingly.
I am very sorry this happened to you and I hope you could move on to a better circle of friends.
In the script you’ve given swiss expat, you tell him to confront the rapist by outing the victims using an “_____ and ______ told me what you did” model. Rape is about power. Outing those women to him could very well instigate some sort of revenge on them by his hands. Before swiss expat confronts his “friend”, he should talk more to the woman that shared her experience with him. He ought to be a good friend to her first and foremost. He should ask her if she’s had any counseling to deal with the rape and encourage her to seek out that kind of support. She’s not alone in the world. Unfortunately, rape and other forms of sexual assualt are relatively common crimes. In fact there’s been much work done to show that the way we socialize men in the US creates a “rape culture”.
To that effect, Swiss expat should think about the way that he and his male friends act towards the women in their lives (both when they’re around and when they’re not) and why this “friend” feels that sexual assault in any form is “ok”.
From a legal standpoint, she has shared knowledge of a crime with swiss expat and not reporting to the authorities amounts to being an accomplice after the fact. This is crime and needs to be reported as such.
Thanks for this, you and other commenters are right on that Swiss Expat should not out the victim.
You are absolutely correct. Swiss Expat should not out the victim. You and other commenters were very helpful in drawing that line, I appreciate it.
The problem I see for Swiss expat is that (s)he is not their friend; (s)he’s not even close to them. Although we know it was “from the horse’s mouth,” it’s not clear exactly how the facts came out, and they may not want to discuss it any further than they have. It still might be worth a shot, but I can see how they might actually look upon questions from somebody who has consciously distanced him- or herself as an unwelcome intrusion.
Maybe it’s because LW reminds me of me a few years ago (I’ve been guilty of that kind of thinking), but I suspect — and hope — that on some level he really knows that he has to cut this person out of his life, and just needs confirmation that it’s the right move.
Once rape culture is in your head, it’s really really hard to get it out. There are guys who don’t feel right about it and have the potential to change their thinking, but they look around them and all they’re seeing is constant, relentless affirmation that it’s OK. If LW actually reads this blog he probably knows he won’t get that affirmation here, so the fact that he wrote in says to me that he is reaching for a hand to help pull him up.
If my feeling about him is right, what I’d say to LW is: Keep trying. You can’t undo all the wrong ideas you’ve been fed overnight, and it will be hard, and there will be a lot of guys you used to like but just can’t hang out with anymore. Not just rapists, but guys who apologize for them too. I know they have good qualities. Every human being does. And it’s hard to look someone in the eye and say I can’t be your friend because of this. But you can, and it’s the right thing to do.
I feel a smidge of compassion for LW because I know if I thought something happened that my presence could have prevented, I’d be racked with guilt, and telling myself that I can’t follow everybody around probably wouldn’t help much beyond a purely intellectual level. Now granted, it looks like there may be some laziness and preference for inertia in there too, which (s)he should fess up to if guilty. Still, it would have been just as easy not to write in. The best counterpoint I’ve seen is the idea that (s)he could already be actively hurting his victims and not even realize it — if I were LW, that would probably snap me out of it.
i wonder what you mean when you say you want to make the situation better for you and other women, LW. does that include the women you don’t like? does that include the rape victims?
i lost almost all of my college friends after i was raped, either because they valued his friendship over mine or because they wouldn’t stop pushing me to report it to the police (which i had a number of good reasons not to do). i don’t feel safe being friends with people who think rape is okay; one of the best things i did for myself was defriend everybody who stayed friends with him on facebook.
i think you need to be honest with yourself and pick a side. either decide that you don’t think rape is okay and quit hanging out with a rapist, or decide that you do think it’s okay and quit hanging out with rape victims. of course, you don’t know who the rape victims are, since we don’t have it tattooed on our faces, so maybe you’ll run out of friends that way. darn.
my final comment will be that i hope all of the survivors of rape that have shared their stories on this post have alll the support they need and deserve. Shit like this enrages me and breaks my heart and all sorts of horrible other things, but before getting my aussie ass to bed i just wanted to remind us all that we’re all worthy of complete support, whether it be for something ages past, or just yesterday, and this is never, ever our fault. the LW in this case is an example to me of a culture that we all have a role in dismantling. end soapbox, goodnight.
There’s lots that I agree with here, but sometimes the “angry protector” tone can be wearying. Sometimes victims don’t speak out because, in trying to integrate/understand their experience(s), they can have some empathy for their abusers. When we see attitudes like some of these towards LW, in which the fact that she struggles at all is somehow complicit, that shames the struggler, and, since we have been shamed by our experience already, we remain silent. I, for one, appreciate LWs struggle, even though what the rest of you say is true. However, if you look back at the posts, you, too, are focused on the perp; he has received almost all of your attention.
Thanks for the link. But I’m a she, not a he.
I have read all of the comments. Many of them have been helpful in clarifying my feelings toward a non-rape/non-abuse situation, but have also helped me make some sense of what happened to me a long time ago. I was raped but didn’t even know it until years after. I know that sounds weird but…he was my boyfriend! The first guy who’d ever said he loved me, and the first I said I loved! How could a boyfriend rape his girlfriend?
It didn’t help that I had an out-of-body experience when it happened. (I had read about this kind of phenomenon in a gender issues class taken a few years before this, but never believed in it until it happened to me. Shame on me.) It also didn’t help that because I wasn’t mentally all there, I didn’t say no. I thought for it to be rape, I had to say no. So what if it was a situation in which no normal, sane guy would have thought of having sex with his girlfriend right then.
Immediately after it happened, I started crying and I asked him why he had done that. And then, like all the other arguments we’d gotten into, he started crying and saying he should kill himself. (He had depression and had tried committing suicide twice before I met him.) And somehow I ended up comforting him that night. What the hell?! Even then I knew something wasn’t quite right. If I told him today that he had raped me, he would be astounded and surprised. But he knew then that he had done something wrong, or he would not have started crying and threatening suicide.
I blocked the whole thing out by the next day but I had a vague sense something was wrong. We still kept dating, though, and even when we broke up a month later, I tried to stay friends with him.
I didn’t tell anyone what happened for a long time. After many years, when I started remembering some of it (turns out that when you block out a trauma like this, your body can still remember it! Painful sex, anyone?), I told a few friends. But I still don’t remember much. I know I’d had sex with him before that time and after that time, but even today I can’t remember having sex at all with him, even with years and years of therapy.
I still feel horribly guilty saying I was raped. Because I didn’t say no, because it wasn’t “real” rape, because it wasn’t violent, because he was my boyfriend, and because I can’t remember much of it so I didn’t really suffer. But I wish I had never met him.
I’m sorry, that really sucks. It sounds to me like you did suffer, and are still suffering–just not in ways you expect. I hope knowing yours isn’t the only story just like that is a comfort to you.
He’s a rapist. Period.
I’m currently experiencing this. I was raped twice by my boyfriend about six months ago, but I’m just starting to come to terms with it over the last month. I’ve been very vocal on my blog about it. I’ve been very vocal about the entire processing of the break up, the abuse, and the sexual assaults.
In my desperation, I was on the verge of outing my rapist on my blog. Fortunately for me, my rapist outed himself in a Facebook group. Protesting his innocence. Up until he did that, no one knew who I was talking about.
Still, he’s called for support and he’s getting it. He’s getting huge amounts of support. And I’m being called into question. I started getting messages from his friends telling me that I’m “crazy” because he would never do such a thing.
He is extremely charming and funny and cute and fun. But no one sees the darkness I saw. Not even most of his girlfriends, I’d wager. Although they see much more than his friends see. His friends just see him at dance, at potlucks, at poly dinners, at events. They are too close to him like I was. They don’t have the connection of the depth that we did. And they weren’t punished with rape like I was.
I’m going to quote directly from and link to this post on my blog in the next couple of days.
Don’t stay friends with rapists. With 97% of rapists walking free in a rape culture full of victim blaming, the only thing we have is our voice and public humiliation.
So shun the fucker.
I am depressed by the fact that the letter-writer talked to his friend about his ALCOHOL problem, and not the raping-people thing. Where on earth are they getting their ideas about what is/isn’t appropriate to talk to someone about, or have an opinion on? Holy shit.
I have written a full response to this post and many of the comments on my own blog. It raised some questions which I believe Captain Awkward does not want to go into here and I wanted to visit those questions and give people an opportunity to sound off on that topic here.
Please be kind… I\’m a relatively new blogger. I am sure I have a lot to learn. Thanks!
Readers, Zachariah is banned from commenting on this site. I let this through because he apparently REALLY wants to talk about this post. I haven’t read the link and I don’t care what’s in it. Please take all responses to Zachariah’s link to Zachariah’s blog.
I know this is an older post but I stumbled upon this report about rape normalizing language that I think is relevant and so here it is: http://jezebel.com/5866602/can-you-tell-the-difference-between-a-mens-magazine-and-a-rapist
jeez, hit post to soon, I would have thought all of the examples came from rapists, it’s scary that mens mags use any of this language
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