Behind a cut for sexual coercion and general ickiness.
Ahoy there Cap’n,
I require some assistance please.
I have a male friend who I’ve known for about three years, after we met on a mutual friend’s birthday trip. We kept in contact after the holiday and in the last year since he moved back to our home country, we became much closer.
He’s been pretty awesome- he’s funny, generous and we usually have a great time when we see each other. We have always been strictly platonic and have never done anything to overstep boundaries. Once, about 9 months ago, while we were having a text conversation about our online dating disasters, he asked why we had never dated. I made it expressly clear that I cared for him as a friend but don’t see him in that way. He said that was cool, he respected that and changed the subject. I thought that was that.
He bought a new place in the last year, and I kept meaning to go see him/it. He invited me to his house and I was to stay the night just me and him (he lives out in the sticks and about drive 2 hours from my home town). Apart from our holiday, this was the first time an overnight stay was to occur. I have healthy platonic relationships with a lot of males and have stayed overnight in their homes alone and never thought twice about it. I didn’t this time either.
The night began well enough, good conversation and pleasantries. We then went to a few bars and he kept buying me drinks, even though I said I was way too wrecked already. Stupidly, I kept drinking them. In the taxi home, he put his arm around me and groped my boob. I told him, quite loudly, to stop and that it was inappropriate. He listened and moved away.
Got to his place and I decided to go to bed. He followed me upstairs to the spare room, which was meant to be my room for the night. He lay down on the bed next to me and when I got up, kept trying to pull me into bed. After repeatedly telling him to get out, he wouldn’t so I left the room. At one point I was trying to figure out if I could drive to a safe place (couldn’t, had drunk way too much). He got the hint eventually and pissed off to his own room after about 20 minutes. His behaviour had seriously creeped me out and, when he wouldn’t leave the room, I did panic a bit as I’m quite small and he’s not.
The next day was awkward as fuck. He wouldn’t talk to me properly and wasn’t making much eye contact. I was speaking to him normally, I think because I suspected talking about his behaviour the night before would turn into an argument and I didn’t really want to deal with it while I was a guest in his house. I was hanging like hell and he kept making out like I was in the way. His dog is quite big and gets excited with new people but only obeys his commands and when I asked him repeatedly to call the dog away, he wouldn’t. I stayed the shortest time possible and left to go home as soon as I was able. I didn’t mention anything about the night before.
I genuinely don’t know how to feel- the whole situation just makes me feel icky and upset. I’ve never before felt like someone was taking advantage of me. I thought he was a good friend of mine and someone I trusted. I wouldn’t treat someone like that. EVER. Others might think it was a such a small thing that happened (as opposed to rape or sexual assault, which I’m not negating in any way, please don’t think that), but it was a huge thing for me. I don’t allow people to touch me or lay in my fucking bed easily. I have to care and trust someone explicitly for that to happen and on my terms. My trust feels betrayed, and after talking to a few people, feel naive for going in the first place. I still feel slightly weepy and anxious as fuck thinking about it.
Some friends are like, he’s a guy, he was drunk, he tried it, failed, shit happens, like he stopped, didn’t he? He felt bad, that’s why he was ignoring me the next day.
Other friends say I was stupid to go and stay alone in the first place, and what did I expect? He’s male and obviously men can’t use their head once alcohol has hit their system (the one on their shoulders, not the one in their pants. That works, clearly). He asked me out once before so obviously wanted something more, and that my behaviour (staying overnight, drinking, trusting a male human being) was terribly naive on my part. Of course it’s my fault.
My problem is three-fold. One, we have very close mutual friends so will defo see each other again. Secondly, I hate not sticking up for myself, I keep thinking of things I should have said. Thirdly, I’m not sure if I’m overreacting. Is it worth losing his friendship over?
What scripts of wisdom can you give me to say to him? I have a feeling that he will get angry at me and say I’m making it bigger than it was and ask why I continued speaking to him the next day. He will probably stop speaking to me. I think I still need him to know that his behaviour wasn’t cool with me.
Please put me out of my misery- was I stupid to go see him alone, like the feeble, cock-teasing female that I am?
Or is having a drunk girl in your house just too good of an opportunity to miss?
Anxy as Fuck
Let’s talk about the thing with the dog and your friend’s behavior the next morning.
In the clear sober light of day, instead of apologizing for his behavior the night before, he gave you the silent treatment and let his big dog jump all over you. He let the dog at you even though he knew you were uncomfortable and scared and even when you specifically asked him to call it away. In other words, he punished you for not having sex with him the night before and made a point of showing you that he was willing to ignore your comfort and physical boundaries. Someone who thinks and acts that way is showing you that they are capable of anything. Of course you feel anxious as fuck – that kind of power play behavior is terrifying!
I’m so sorry this happened to you.
I am so sorry that your friendship is done, not because you did anything wrong or because there is any way you could react “incorrectly” in the aftermath, but because this dude decided to tear up the card marked “friendship” and then set it on fire. I’m sorry that this might ripple out through your social group and cause problems for you, even though you didn’t do a single thing wrong.
And I am so sorry that you are being blamed and wondering if you are to blame. Someone who gropes their friend and is told bluntly to stop, then gets into bed with that friend and won’t get out and pulls them into bed when they get out, and then sulks and lets his dog jump all over you should be the one worrying, “Will I lose all my friends because of this?” He should be falling all over himself to apologize to you and to make it right. But he didn’t and he isn’t, because our fucked up culture tells him that he made an “understandable”, “boys will be boys” “mistake” and tells you “what did you think would happen?”
There is actual a very simple way to find out if someone wants to have sex with you if you are unsure. It’s called “using words.” Your friend is well-aware of this, because he asked you, with words, how you felt about him, and you told him, “I don’t feel that way.”
Then months go by, and he doesn’t try using words, he tries giving you a ton of alcohol and then groping you in the cab. And you told him, “No.”
Then he stopped even trying to use words, which is how so many of these stories go. “But how was I supposed to know that she wasn’t into it? Poor confused me!” says every dude who tries it on with an unwilling or unresponsive acquaintance or friend or date. Sometimes I think dudes freak out about calls for explicit consent, verbal consent, enthusiastic consent, “yes means yes,” style consent because to be honest, they can think back to drunken escapades where they can’t be 100% sure that the other person wanted it because they never fucking bothered to ask (or, worse), and it makes them feel guilty as hell. “If that’s not okay, then that means I may have assaulted someone. That can’t be right!” Since no one likes feeling bad about themselves, they push back on the entire idea instead of, I dunno, listening to women? Or resolving to ask in the future or any measure that would help there be more good, non-coercive sex in the world. “Don’t be silly! I can’t possibly be expected to ask the person who is right in front of me with whom I am planning to do an extremely intimate and vulnerable thing! That would ruin the mood! I’m sure it would ruin something (like my sense of entitlement to sex when I want it)!”
Your friend stopped using words on purpose because he knew what the answer would be. He didn’t ask, “Hey, could the trip out to my house be a date-sort-of-thing?” because he knew that then you wouldn’t come. He didn’t ask before touching you in the cab. He wouldn’t get out of the bed and kept pulling you back even when you got out of it. He stopped short of raping you, thank heaven, but he used every single tactic that rapists use – isolating their victim, alcohol, not taking no for an answer, using size and strength and manipulation and bullying to get their way. What a fucking repulsive human being.
And of course you feel on edge. This person that you’d previously known to be lovely and trustworthy has done a complete about-face! You not only have to deal with the ick of the events themselves, you’ve been betrayed by someone you care about and have to grieve that friendship! What fans never seem to get about the victims of charismatic, charming, popular sexual predators is that their victims were giant fans, too. Nobody could possibly be sadder about it! Nobody!
Please, forgive yourself. To be clear, you haven’t done anything wrong and you have nothing to be forgiven for. Forgive yourself anyway. Forgive yourself for all the people who would put the blame on you, and for the little voice in your head that made you ask if you are overreacting. YOU ARE NOT OVERREACTING.
You had no way of knowing how he would behave. Forgive yourself for not being a mind-reader or a fortune-teller. Forgive yourself for wanting a fun night with a good friend. Forgive yourself for not knowing the perfect thing to say when a trusted person did a complete and sudden 180 into Full Dangerous Asshole Mode. Kick the “management consultant” who looks for ways it could have gone differently out of your head.
You have done nothing wrong or “stupid.” You have in fact done a great job of taking care of yourself by retreating into survival mode and getting out of his house with as little friction as possible the next day. But here you are, wondering how to “fix” everything, wondering how not to make him angry at you, wondering if this was your fault, wondering if a situation where you were groped and assaulted is somehow trivializing “real” assault (you’re not – being groped and grabbed and pulled into a bed is pretty effing real), wondering if you’re going to lose all your friends, and accepting their shame and blame for what he did as somehow yours to carry. So, write it down, say it, carve it on a picnic table at the local park, as long as you express it somewhere and somehow:
“I am not to blame. He is.”
If he contacts you, I hope that you will tell him that the way he treated you was unbelievably scary and wrong. Like, in those words: “What you did was incredibly scary and wrong. Leave me alone.”
Your friends who want to keep both of you in the social group will pressure you not to “make drama,” and he will use them as Storm Troopers to make & enforce “peace” between you. Your friends are wrong; you can and should expect that male friends will not grope and try to coerce you into sex especially when the question of “should we date?” was settled months ago when he asked you and you used your words to tell him explicitly that no, you should not.
Sadly, I have a prediction:
He, and/or some jerk in your friend group, will seize upon the fact that you stayed the night and try to hammer it. “Well, if you were so scared, why didn’t you call the police? Why did you stay? Why did you have tea with me the next morning?” Like, nobody can possibly be too drunk and tired to drive, stranded in an unfamiliar area, or have conflicting/hopeful feelings like “My friend will surely stop this pretty soon, right? Surely this isn’t really happening.” Everybody who calls the police is believed and treated well, screaming and fighting always work to deter a drunk person who is bigger than you, escalating a potentially violent situation always resolves it in the victim’s favor, and nobody ever gets through a traumatic situation any way they can only to have their real feelings of terror surface afterward, amirite? [/sarcasm]
Remind yourself (and them, if applicable): “I got through it the best way I could. I had a hard time believing it was happening. Now that I’m on safer ground, I realize how very scared I was.”
And keep track of who in your “friend” group says these blame-y kinds of things, and who suddenly turns into an armchair legal expert insisting on “reasonable doubt,” as if the legal standard for a criminal conviction is the only standard you can use in deciding whether to keep having happy hour with the entitled fuckface who assaulted your friend. Once again, I’m sorry, that you’ll now be mentally dividing people you know into “safe people who believe me and understand that what he did was wrong” and “unsafe people who think it’s okay to grope and assault their friends.” I’m sorry that you will be under social pressure to be “fair” to him and to forgive and forget, when really the right thing for your friend group to do is to say, “Sorry, buddy, you attacked our friend. Bye forever!”
Letter Writer, it’s ultimately your choice how you handle all of this, but please trust the recent experiences that tell you that this dude is not safe. It is okay if you expect and want your friends to support you in having nothing to do with him, and definitely okay to say “Hey, could you stop blaming me for ___’s creepy behavior and acting like I could have seen it coming? Thanks!”
Frankly, I would not be surprised if others have a story about him much like yours, but they’ve been too afraid to say something because they don’t want to mess up the whole social scene or they worry that nobody will believe them. Watch for those tight little silences among other women when his name comes up, and think of those women who have drifted away from the friend group after hanging out with him a lot. Those people are your sisters in a sad and powerful sisterhood that I wish with all my heart you didn’t have to be a part of.
Applicable Links & Resources: “The People You Meet When You Talk About Rape,” (The Pervocracy),”I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault” (Tumblr), “How To See The Charm That Everyone Else Sees In Their Harasser” (Reductress), and “She Didn’t Fight Back Because You Told Her Not To” (Harriet J, linked and excerpted at Shapely Prose), My Friends Won’t Stop Inviting Me & My Abusive Ex To The Same Parties (here), Don’t Be Friends With Rapists (Feministing), My Friend Group Has A Case of the Creepy Dude, How Do We Clear That Up? (here, 500 questions ago and yet these creepy dudes are still operating), Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture And What We Can Do About It (Kate Harding), Cockblocking Rapists Is a Moral Obligation, or, How To Stop Rape Right Now (Yes Means Yes Blog).
Reminder: This is a moderated comment-space. Victim blaming is prohibited, and think very carefully about the word “should” before you use it.
356 thoughts on “#823: Another Day, Another Creepy Dude Who Doesn’t Deserve Friends”
I am so sorry this happened. I am so sorry your friends have been so awful about it. This was absolutely not your fault. I have no real advice to add, just. Not your fault. You did nothing wrong. He did.
Ugh, exactly. First being assaulted by this scum, and then having “friends” play it down or outright blame you for being victimized. I think I’d be doing some serious social circle housecleaning.
Oh my god, the idea that women are stupid and naive if they trust their male friends NOT TO ASSAULT THEM needs to die. I am so sorry, LW.
And you aren’t making light of sexual assault or rape. When someone has grabbed my boob, despite me having clearly said that I don’t want to have sex or get off with them, I consider that sexual assault. It’s up to you what you name your experience, but you wouldn’t be exaggerating or making light of something if you called that sexual assault.
Yes, yes, yes.
We all know there are men who are real friends; who don’t act like this creep. We need to EXPECT MORE (and that’s aimed at both the “well what did you expect?” and the “boys will be boys” people. Because ugh).
And an important thing to remember, LW, is that you didn’t know that your encounter with him wouldn’t end in sexual assault until you were away from him and safe.
The only thing keeping him from raping you was HIS decision not to, and it must have been terrifying to be in that situation. The end result that you feared is the same end result that countless victims of rape and sexual assault feared before the act was committed; fortunately for you, the end result was different, but the lead-up to it was terrifying and exactly the same.
Facepalm facepalm FACEPALM. His decision? 100 bucks says that this was merely a blunder on the “friend’s” part. As Capitan has mentioned, this person has used the high-success-rate rape tactics 101, which means that in all likelyhood he planned the entire encounter in advance, with the explicit intention of raping LW. What I got from this post is that the “friend” simply miscalculated the quantity of alcohol, and LW remained too sober to be effectively incapacitated (as evidenced by her having clear memories of the encounter). Had the bar attendance lasted an hour or two longer, we would have had a full-blown rape story on our hands. As it is, the way I see it, the “friend” would have had to use physical force in order to rape LW, which means a considerably higher chance of facing criminal charges than if the victim is too drunk to resist. This “friend” ought to be treated as a rapist and a dangerous enemy.
As per “should”, one smart thing to do is to check if this “friend’s” other female acquaintances have had similar experiences. Odds are, LW is neither the only “friend’s” victim nor the most unlucky one.
I was thinking this too. This encounter was well-planned so you can bet this isn’t his first dive into the sexual assault cesspool. Start discreetly asking around and I guarantee you’ll find other women who have stories that closely align with yours.
And even if “someone has it worse” doesn’t make your plight any easier. There will always be someone who has it worse.
LW, I cosign Mary’s point that it’s up to you what you call this — you are the one who was there and you are the expert on what happens. But in my eyes you also wouldn’t be making light of anything if you called this attempted rape. I am so, so sorry. But the fact that he kept getting you drunker and drunker, despite your protests, and then began assaulting you once you were alone with him and so wrecked you would not, from the sound of it, have been CAPABLE of meaningful consent, says to me: he planned this. He had a goal in mind when he poured all those drinks into you, and it wasn’t that you would have a fun evening and then sleep it off alone and safe in his spare bedroom.He wanted, he planned, to get you drunk enough that you couldn’t stick by your earlier, sober “no.” He thought you wouldn’t be able to have it together enough to stop him. He was disappointed that he was wrong.
>>Secondly, I hate not sticking up for myself,
Oh, LW, you did, you did, you did. I am so impressed with how well you protected yourself, even when drunk and caught so terribly off guard in a place where you should have been safe. Let me tell you, something similar happened to me, and because we were dating, I did NOT tell him to stop, and I did not leave the room, and you can guess the rest. And that was not my fault either, and it wouldn’t have been yours if in sheer confusion and shock you’d just shut down. But you saved yourself and though you should never have had to, you should be proud.
I’m so glad someone said this:
“Oh, LW, you did, you did, you did [stick up for yourself]. I am so impressed with how well you protected yourself, even when drunk and caught so terribly off guard in a place where you should have been safe.”
“Oh my god, the idea that women are stupid and naive if they trust their male friends NOT TO ASSAULT THEM needs to die. I am so sorry, LW.”
I’m sorry too.
Isn’t it mainstream to say that men are truly sweet and cuddly people who protect delicate women, and only the feminazis who were supposed to say women can’t trust men?
When did the men and the mainstream suddenly turn into feminazis saying only a totally naive person would ever trust a man and be alone with a man? *clutches pearls* Sometimes I hate this world.
Men are cuddly and sweet and responsible for their actions – until they’re suddenly not, and it’s always the woman’s fault for being naive and thinking that he could control his sexual urges.
The idea that male sexuality is something they can’t control and therefore should be forgiven when they sexually assault someone is bullshit and needs to be wiped off the face of the earth. Men are perfectly capable of control, it’s just that many of them don’t want to/were taught they don’t have to control themselves, because obviously not being raped is a woman’s responsibility, right?
I would cut him out of the friend group, if anyone asks why tell them that he sexually assaulted you and put you in a dangerous situation where you were very scared, and you have no desire to have any further interaction with him. If they call for peace or say ‘oh he’s just a guy’ or anything along those lines, you know that they are not safe people and should also be expelled from your group of friends. Find out who your real Team Me is.
No, I think it is mainstream to tell women that they are wrong. That they are too trusting and too suspicious, too slutty and too frigid, that they should loosen up and take more care of themselves, be nicer and not lead men on. As long as women are doubting themselves and rapists and Nice Guys and men who think their right to compliment you is more important than whether or not you want to hear that compliment can operate with impunity.
Pretty sure the double-standards have always been there.
LW, I am so sorry that this happened to you. I am so sorry this keeps happening.
The only “should” I can formulate is that this creepy creep should be a better person. The fact that he is not a better person is no one’s fault but his own. He knew what he was doing.
+1 it was -premeditated- attempted rape. He has no excuse. I’m so sorry LW..
Look for support from the others in your circle, because you’re surely not the only one. And if they’re too scared to support you, dump them all. You deserve better.
Oh honey. I had something happen in that general sphere (the concrete details are all very different, of course), and all the “Why didn’t—” “You should have—” “If it were really—” climbed into my head and stayed there for a while. Therapy helped. EMDR helped. Horrified reactions from people outside that circle helped. Count this as a horrified reaction, okay? That was terrible, what he did, and you went in with good intentions. Let yourself breathe. You can have a clear conscience. You didn’t earn this. You shouldn’t have expected this. This was bad enough to grieve what you’ve lost.
You got yourself out safely: that is the best possible outcome, when someone is being a predator.
I remember the day it finally clicked. Abuser’s actions + my actions = terrible situation. I spent years playing with that equation, trying to make it add up differently. And then one day I exhausted all the options. Abuser’s actions + (me speaking up more, me being more forgiving, me being clearer, me being more skillful, me being truly anything) = terrible situation, because I cannot fix this equation, because he broke it.
Your “friend” broke the equation, and he broke it on purpose, because he chose to. Your only job is to be kind to yourself.
—love from a sad and powerful sister, who will drink tea with you any day, and repeat what you already know until you let yourself believe it
I’ve been there, too. Remote cabin with several friends and one dude I’d told several times to stop hitting on me/calling me babe/touching me without permission. Dude going on about how alcohol makes it easier for him to ‘get girls,’ and then whoops he forgot to mention that he’d put significant amounts of liquor in the milkshake I’d just finished drinking.
Dudes who are not planning to assault people do not ply them with alcohol when they’ve said no. They do not test their target’s boundaries (for example, by groping them) to determine whether their target is drunk enough to assault yet.
Dudes who think “this is my chance! I can get her drunk!” when they have time alone with a woman who’s turned them down? Those dudes are rapists.
What’d I expect when I decided to spend a week in a remote cabin with a guy who’d been harassing me? I expected to be treated like a human being, that’s what I expected. Anyone who throws out a dismissive “what did you expect?” is basically saying “it is unreasonable for you to expect to be treated like a human being.”
Having to learn who I couldn’t trust was awful. Lonely, painful, and confusing–I spent a lot of time not trusting myself to trust people, because obviously I had terrible judgment when I trusted them. But removing people who don’t expect the world to treat me like a human being from my life was an excellent decision. I can’t say if it’s the right choice for you, LW, but I can say that when all is said and done, I don’t regret it even a little.
Anyone who throws out a dismissive “what did you expect?” is basically saying “it is unreasonable for you to expect to be treated like a human being.”
Plus, on top of that, they’re saying, “I believe most/all men will commit sexual assault if given an opportunity.”
And they call feminists man-haters.
And if you are suspicious of men, “how can you paint all men with the same brush?!? Not all men!”
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
God, yes. “Not all men!” “Well, what did you expect when you went into a man’s apartment alone?”
It’s just as good as that other neat trick they do, the one about how cishet men are in thrall to their penises and just can’t help themselves, but women are the irrational ones because of periods.
YES! Exactly! As a woman, I’m expected to guard my person by not going out alone, not dressing a certain way, not getting too drunk…so if men aren’t all rapists (they’re not), why the hell do I constantly have to guard against the possibility of getting raped?
(I posted a reply to this and it disappeared. I’m guessing that the moderator(s) read it and thought I was taking the opposite stance from what I was actually trying to say, so I’m trying a second time to see if it sticks.)
Yes, this. The idea that rape victims are responsible for rape is entirely wrongheaded and evil, and to blame someone for their own assault to their face is just a horrible, foul thing to do. The only one really capable of preventing rape is the rapist. And as a guy, I find the claim insulting as well — basically, every time someone says something like that it is equivalent to saying “men, including you, are by default rapists, who are only prevented from acting by the inconvenience of publicity, if any man is permitted to get a woman alone he will automatically commit assault because that’s just how men are”. All this does is excuse rapists from being considered the horrible people they are.
There was a successful media campaign to reduce rape, up in Canada, which seems to have been the first media campaign to produce a significant change in rape statistics. What was different about it? It targeted potential rapists and told them not to do that, pointed out unambiguously that sex without consent is rape. All the previous campaigns were focussed on warning women to be “safe” (i.e. conventionally chaste and fearful) and had no effect, because nobody ASKS to be assaulted, duh.
(Incidentally, there used to be a blog on Tumblr called Don’t Get Raped, now apparently defunct, which was an excellent counterargument to this sort of thing. It was a collection of news stories in which people did “the right thing” to protect themselves, and ended up getting assaulted anyway. “The right thing” ranged from “walking home with a friend” — whoops, the rapist waited until the friend left, then broke in — to “taking a taxi instead of walking” — taxi driver turned out to be a friend of the rapist — to “not leaving the house in the first place” — rapist waited until the lights went out and then broke in.)
And anyone who throws out “what did you expect?” when defending their friendship with the assaulter in question is saying, quite clearly, that they agree with you that their friend is the sort of person who should be expected to commit assault and they still choose to maintain that friendship.
SO. Much. THIS.
I have found it helps to take on a kind of Radical Honesty. What am I thinking this? Is this coming from some kind of stupid socialization? Does it even make sense to think this? And so forth.
The good people of the world spend so very much time rationalizing and making excuses for and pretending not to see the Manipulators in their work and social groups. Because it is so awkward to admit that the funny and charming and seems-so-nice one is really a predator with camouflage and bad intentions.
The Captain has already said so many good things I just wanted to add that I’ve run across what seems like more than my fair share of people who seem human and yet turn out to be capable of horrible things if the opportunity arises, and then rely on the fact that no one wants to admit there is a masked monster in their midst.
That is what is going on here, though. I am so glad you used your instincts and things were not worse. But they were bad enough and you should treat yourself gently because of it.
Not your fault.
One of the biggest takeaways I had from The Gift of Fear was to think of personal charm as an action, not an attribute. Instead of “he’s charming,” switch to, “he’s trying to charm me” and be curious/observant about why that is. Sometimes the answer is, “we’re on a date, and he would like another date.” Sometimes the answer is, “He is trying to gain my trust for nefarious purposes.” I found that framing very helpful in combating the internal second-guessing that comes with being socialized as a woman.
Yes, every single story like this starts with “he was funny/endearing/kind/witty/charming”. I think we women say this because we want to say “he seemed/seems so nice, I’m not a fool, I wasn’t hanging around with a total butthead”. But here’s the thing. *They seem nice*. They always seem nice. That’s how they have friends and how they attract lady friends to assault – if they weren’t nice they would be living in a cave somewhere and this story would be about a monster who jumped out of the bushes and attacked you.
Also. They actually, really, genuinely seem nice. We hear “he seemed charming” and imagine some smarmy guy straight out of an 80s TV movie with slicked back hair and a white suit saying “helloooo ladies”. No. They seem actually funny, witty, kind, like real feminists, like gentlemen, like people you actually like. Your friends like them too. You maybe have known them for a while. You’re not even sure they did the thing because nice people don’t do things like that and you’re sure that guy is nice.
*Its not your fault you were fooled*. They’re good at seeming like reasonable humans and it’s not obvious that they’re actually a lizard in a skin suit until the mask slips.
And that’s one of the many horrible things about stuff like this. Not only do you get to have all the bad emotions because someone attacked you, you end up doubting yourself and worried you can’t judge which people are safe and lots of people around you don’t believe it.
Because they seem nice. 😦
I don’t suppose the LW would want to make that explicit by saying, “Oh, so you think that is the kind of thing X would do to any woman he got alone?”…
…but, if she felt like it, she sure has got a right.
Them: “What did you expect?”
You: “Wait–did you know he was a rapist? Did you know he was the kind of guy who would deliberately get a girl drunk so he could pressure her into having sex with him? You already knew this about him?”
Them: “Well, no, but guys are like that.”
You: “Wait–you’re a guy. Are YOU like that? Do you pressure your friend into having a lot of alcohol, and try to pressure her into having sex with you, even though she told you she didn’t like that?”
You: “Wait–your boyfriend is a guy. Is HE like that? He’s the kind of guy who would use alcohol to try to pressure someone into having sex with him, even after she said she wasn’t interested in him? Are you dating that kind of a guy?”
“What’d I expect when I decided to spend a week in a remote cabin with a guy who’d been harassing me? I expected to be treated like a human being, that’s what I expected.”
This site needs a like button.
I’ve had something like that happen, and come to the same conclusion, with added–while I couldn’t come up with many things I was capable of at the time that would have stopped it from happening, the only thing he would have had to do was not try to rape me. His ability to prevent it was much larger than mine.
This guy didn’t stop when you said no, LW. He just regrouped and tried another tactic to push you into sex. So anyone who says he “stopped after you said no” is monumentally full of shit.
The Captains response is spot-on.
I am going through a similar situation with a (now) ex-friend. Thankfully, he didn’t assault me but he was not taking no for an answer (to requests to date, to favors I did not want, etc.). He was trying to push for things that I was clear I didn’t want and it was off-putting and made me really uncomfortable around him. He’s 14 years older than me so he’s old enough to know what the fuck he’s doing.
We’re not friends anymore as far as I’m concerned. I cut off all contact. I have no patience for this shit. If ANYONE tells me no, I accept the no as an answer. I don’t push for more or keep trying. Especially when it comes to romantic/sexual interest, I figure they know how to find me if they change their mind, but I don’t need to keep checking. They said no, I accept it, and if it’s weird I don’t hang out with them for a while until I am over it. I don’t push for more, push boundaries, and basically try to corner/manipulate/force someone into this. It’s bullshit and it makes me fucking ragey when people do that.
LW, I am SO sorry you went through this. Your instincts are all correct: this guy is not a kind person, he is not a safe person, and your anxiety and fear are completely normal reactions to going through a terrifying experience. I’m also sorry you’re about to find out who in your friend group doesn’t want to believe that the dude is the problem, and will try and blame you. I went through a related experience last year when I found out someone in my family was a sexual predator, who had targeted other family members, and his actions had been covered up and kept secret. It’s awful. It’s sickening. It’s infuriating and yes, it does drive a rift in social structures you thought were otherwise secure.
But! Your safety is worth it. You have the right to protect yourself. If that makes other people feel weird, they can fucking feel weird. I’m so glad you made it out of that guy’s house safely. I hope you can continue to protect yourself. I’m on your side, for what that’s worth from an internet stranger.
I spent chunks of my teens, twenties and thirties visiting men from different friend groups and sleeping alone under the same roof with them; often in the same room. There was never any suggestion of them pressuring me for sex, even though some made it clear they were interested. If the events described by the LW had happened to me, I’m as confident as I can be that the person would have found himself rejected by the rest of the group. Decent groups of friends do exist, and I hope the LW wastes no time in ditching this lot for more deserving company if they don’t come through for her.
Seriously. I get the feeling like this whole group of friends has built up a nasty little culture of shame and excuses. For me, it’s been part luck and part dogged persistence that I have found myself with a friend group who would never, EVER ask me to forgive and forget, or accept a share of blame for what’s happened. In fact… now that I think about it, there’s a creepy guy in our grad department. And though he presents a charming face and most of us start out liking him, we very quickly stop. And we warn newcomers about him. He’s treated with civility, but he knows damn well he’s not welcome at gatherings where he’ll be interacting with women.
That, to me, is a functioning social system. I’m not shamed at all for the fact that I used to consider him a friend. Neither is anyone else. But we don’t create an atmosphere that enables his behavior. I wish like hell that I or some of my amazing, safe, compassionate, strong friends were around LW right now to give a better example of what a supportive friend looks like.
I sleep naked, and have bed shared, naked, with a few choice and trusted platonic male friends who understood my previously verbalized boundaries. None of them raped me because they weren’t rapey assholes.
Sending you good thoughts, LW. This is a rough thing to deal with. I went through a trauma that separated me from my friend group, and in the end, I have better people in my life now who bring out my better qualities than my previous friends. I hope your friend group proves more supportive than my previous one, but if they don’t, I hope you find the more supportive friends you deserve.
Hang in there. None of this is your fault, and the people who care for you should value your physical and emotional safety.
I got wasted on my husband’s and my second date and had to sleep over at his place because I was unable to drive home. I slept in my underwear and a t-shirt he loaned me in the same bed as him. This was a guy who was actively dating me/trying to sleep with me and who had made out with me earlier in the night (with my enthusiastic consent). He didn’t even try to have sex with me, holding to an earlier stated preference to wait for sex until we were in a committed relationship.
That is what you *should* expect from dealing with decent human beings. Not what you got. You should never expect what you got, and shame on people who suggest it.
LW, I am so sorry that happened to you, and I am so sorry that you have already found people more interested in “keeping the peace” than in supporting you through all this confusion, disappointment, fear, and anger.
It super, super, sucks.
Wishing you well, LW.
Before I even read what the Captain has to say, you are NOT making too big of a deal of this, he IS sketchy as hell, it was NOT your fault you went out there with pure intentions and that he acted poorly. You’re cool here, LW.
Yes, this. I just got through the description of what the guy did, not even the part of the LW’s letter where they start talking about their friends minimizing things and the LW themselves feeling naive for having gone to his house in the first place, and I had to go off and post a rant about how this sort of thing was an excellent example of “rape culture” because what the LW did was an entirely reasonable thing to do with a trusted friend of several years, and yet there’s this clear cultural response to such things of “it’s her fault.”
I am deeply saddened at how spot-on that rant turned out to be. LW, to put it crudely, when someone is the sort of friend that this guy sounded like he was before this happened, you ought to be able to trust them to have your back, not merely just trust them not to grab your breast. Your friend betrayed that entirely reasonable trust, bigtime, and that is 100% on him.
I would also point out, as a specific note about the drinking, that it’s not like he would have done anything differently if you’d had less to drink. Even if you hadn’t gone out to his house, he’s surely the sort of person who would have found another time and place.
The drinking was the first boundary he pushed – she said no and he kept buying them.
LW I want to echo what the Captain said: You did not do anything wrong. You did the right thing: You kept yourself as safe as possible and got yourself out of a scary, dangerous situation as soon as possible. YOU ARE A HERO.
“You kept yourself as safe as possible and got yourself out of a scary, dangerous situation as soon as possible. YOU ARE A HERO.”
This site needs a like button.
This is a big deal, you didn’t deserve it, it must have been terrifying. That business with not calling the dog off gives me extra creeps. I’m so glad you’re ok, LW, and so sorry your friends are being less than supportive.
Oh. My. Goodness. You have succeeded in putting just the right words around so many things.
“I got through it the best way I could. I had a hard time believing it was happening. Now that I’m on safer ground, I realize how very scared I was.”
Yes, yes, yes. This was the story of my entire abusive marriage. It is such a horrible feeling to realize after-the-fact what an awful situation you are in only to have your in-the-moment behavior audited by people that have no clue how these situations work.
“Other friends say I was stupid to go and stay alone in the first place, and what did I expect?”
See, I do the same thing you did. I use my words like a grown-up, and I expect my words to be received in good faith. Conversely, when other people use their words, I accept them in good faith. The all-too-common idea that somehow we women should “just know” that guys are “just that way” despite the words they used and despite all our positive examples to the contrary … it’s so much bullshit and it makes me so mad.
“I expected my friend of three years to fucking believe me when I said I didn’t want to date him.”
I expected that when my friend of three years acted cool about me turning him down that he was being honest, not biding his time until he could isolate me and assault me.
“I also expected that my friends weren’t the kind of people who would make excuses for sexual assault, or blame the victim of same,” might also be a worthwhile piece of this, if LW *CHOOSES* to confront people who are defending this piece of scum.
I do want to make it clear that I’m absolutely not trying to say whether she should or shouldn’t confront “mutual friends”** who defend him, because that is 100% her decision to make and not mine. But Captain, you’ve spoken before about the value, at times, of taking all the weirdness and awkwardness that somebody is trying to dump on one and wrapping it up into a nice little package marked, “Return To Sender,” and if that’s a course of action which sounds attractive to the LW, it should be very doable, because that kind of manipulation depends heavily on nobody explicitly calling them on their BS.
[**I put “mutual friends” in quotes because, sadly, I doubt it is really possible to have mutual friends with this guy anymore. Someone who truly cares about LW is unlikely to WANT to stay friends with an asshole who assaulted her. Someone who tries to stay friends with both may be a person with whom LW chooses to keep the peace, or even enjoys hanging out with occasionally, but they’ve just demonstrated that they consider their own opportunity to enjoy the company of someone else they find entertaining more important than LW’s safety or comfort, and that isn’t the way a real friend behaves.]
The worst is when your friends don’t need to say those things because you’ve already internalized them. I went on a date with a guy once and the “omg that was weird & I’m not comfortable with what just happened” sleeved-out goosebumps hit me on my drive home. I was too focused in the moment on enforcing my boundaries, while he was dead-set on working his way over, around & through them.
And I still spent that drive and ensuing days wondering through what happened, & was he really that skeevy or am I just uncomfortable with how far I let him get…
Anyway sorry to make this about me, just wanted to agree that it’s totally normal to feel weirder about a situation after it’s over, in the (literally) sober light of day. And that the voices, internal & external, saying what you coulda shoulda woulda done are Monday night quarterbacking at best.
The responsibility for what happened that night falls on him, not you. Which sucks because you can only control yourself, not him, leading you to take on that responsibility if he’s not.
But count me among the commenters who believe you and believe in you.
I’m glad you contributed this. And I think it’s ok to make it all about you – I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I read these comments, I always stop and read the personal stories. They help me, a lot. They help me see links where I might not have before, and sometimes they bridge the gap between what the LW is writing and stuff that has happened to me, personally. So thank you for telling your story. Here’s my own:
I know exactly how you feel. I’ve tried to articulate the same thing – that no… it’s not just that my mother “didn’t believe me” when I confessed I’d been raped, it was that she’d spent the previous 14 years of my life conditioning me to not even believe it myself. When I told her it was rape, *I* actually thought I was lying. That’s the really fucked up part. I hadn’t struggled physically, so I spent the next dozen years or so telling myself, “I once had consensual sex and lied about it to my mom, accusing a guy of rape.” It took till my late twenties to start to realize that no… That was rape. The age difference alone – my 15 to his 35ish – made it rape. AND I had said no, back when he first broached the subject at the restaurant. That’s why he didn’t ask, in his car later.
Looking back, I feel more betrayed by my mother than I do by that guy. And no, it’s not just because she didn’t believe me. It’s because she spent so much of my life telling me stuff like “a woman is a rose and every time she has sex she loses a petal till she’s just a worthless stem” and also that everything bad that ever happened to me was my fault. By the time the guy got around to raping me, it… wasn’t rape, in my head. It was just one more pervy nasty thing that I was capable of. And one more lie I lied for attention. I was so twisted about it, I couldn’t NOT blame myself.
I’m so sorry that you and SM went through that.
…”everything bad that ever happened to me was my fault.”
Your mom = MY mom
Also, I want to reiterate: You did NOTHING wrong. You are NOT overreacting. What he did was frightening and abusive and not at all okay. He’s not a good person and anyone who defends his actions or blames you is garbage.
You did not deserve this and anyone who defends this shit is awful. He KNEW you were not interested so HE was the one who was doing the leading on–he led you to believe that he was cool with your boundary and that he’d respect it. And FFS anyone who said “He’s a guy and that’s what they do, they think with their dicks” should be reminded that if men cannot control their behavior then they cannot be trusted with jobs, leadership positions, or to be out and about unsupervised. That’s the logical conclusion of that garbage philosophy.
I agree so hard. I’m so sick of hearing that “men can’t help it” but “women should know better.” It is a totally BS double-standard.
Ahhh, don’t forget that if a woman does act self-protectively and assume that men are dangerous, she’ll be pilloried for that too.
Oh, yes: because she should magically know which one of two guys acting exactly the same way is the nice guy and which one is the creep.
The answer to this is always “Me, I’m a nice guy.”
It is a trick question. They are both creeps.
Yeah, “men can’t help it”, so *women* are the ones who have to be careful instead of, say, locking all the men up since they’re basically animals according to that logic.
LW, I am so sorry this happened to you.
Friends, to me, are people that have your back when someone does something terrible to you. People who question you when you say “I was attacked” rather than supporting you and asking how they can help you do not sound like friends to me. Please heed CA’s advice and pay attention to the way your “friends” are treating you. It may be time to let some folks drift away and replace them with better people.
LW, you are strong and amazing and this guy is a raging asshole. A few years ago, something *very* similar happened to me, and I had nearly all the same thoughts that you are having. People were asking questions like “what did you expect, going to his house?”, “if it was so bad, why didn’t you just leave?”, “at least he didn’t rape you”, and “why didn’t you report it?” and I was asking those same questions of myself. Time helps, as does reading resources like the ones linked here. You will realize that you did NOTHING wrong.
There is no “perfect” way for a victim to act, no checklist that you have to complete before it’s “decided” that this incident was assault and this guy is an asshole.
Captain, extraordinary advice. Wish I had it when this happened to me.
“At least he didn’t rape you.
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHHH this sentiment makes me SO ANGRY. How the hell could anyone SAY that?! HOW DOES THIS EVEN MAKE SENSE?!?!
If that is the standard you’ve descended to, and you’re using that shitty standard to silence a victim of sexual violence, you are being a garbage human being and you need to stop.
Yeah, if that’s your operating standard, then I never, ever want to see you again. Because you are going to excuse everything short of rape, and probably that as well if it doesn’t meet your definiton of “rape-rape.”
You dodged a bullet. Don’t let that trick you into imagining that the shot you heard, which deafened you that night, was just a car backfiring down the road. That is an absolutely terrifying story. I am completely appalled by anyone who tried to minimize it or make it sound like you should have expected any of this. You were defenseless, isolated, and in no condition to flee. Had you tried to drive, you might have gotten into a fatal accident. Everything detail about that story throws off alarm bells of the worst sort. I think that avoidance is the best bet. No matter what you do, or what he says, please don’t let him ease your mind into thinking he is safe to be alone with again. He ain’t right.
“You were defenseless, isolated, and in no condition to flee.”
And stuck in the home of a predator. From the LW’s account, this is clearly not the first time this guy has whipped out the predatory behaviors. The progression was too smooth for it to have been the first time. If this guy hasn’t already raped someone, he most likely will in the future. He’s using their playbook.
What a horrible story, it upset me to read it. 😦 I echo everything the Captain has said – what should have been a fun night with a friend has turned into a nightmare you totally didn’t deserve, and I’m so sorry it happened to you.
As a male with a number of cherished and close female friends, I feel so disheartened that there are low-lifes out there who act like this and treat platonic friendship like it’s worthless.
Love and support to you. I hope you’re alright.
LW: Not making it about me, but I spent several weeks in a “is it just me or was that a bad thing that almost happened to me” mentality in a situation not unrelated to this. I just want to say, it is not just you. It is never just you.
He knew ages ago you were not interested in that kind of interaction with him. He stuck around anyway, waiting for you to change your mind. When you didn’t he decided to change your mind for you. This was not something that happened on the spur of the moment. It was calculated, planned, and probably not the first time he’s used this particular scenario or a variation thereof. He intentionally targeted you for this action. Show him no mercy and give him no quarter.
He’s angry because his plan failed not because he’s a terrible waste of DNA and oxygen but because you (YOU! who he thought of as prey) thwarted HIM. Now he’s going to try and turn your victory into a loss of everything else, including your social circle.
My advice: Weed and prune like the boss you are. Even if you lose 95% of the people you hang out with because they’re going to “oh he’s really a nice guy/ what did you expect/ you’re making ME uncomfortable” the situation, that’s OKAY. You will not miss them as much as they’d like you to believe you would. And the 5% who have your back, who refuse to take the side of a predator, are better than gold plated diamonds dipped in chocolate.
I am rooting for you, LW.
Yes! Losing all or most of one’s main friends group is HARD, but if they are siding with the man who almost raped you, they aren’t really your friends. Find the people who are on Team You, even if it’s only a few people.
Jedi hugs. You did everything right.
And he gets extra bonus negative points for his being a jerk dog owner: “dog is quite big and gets excited with new people but only obeys his commands” is a recipe for Bad Things Happening, which in addition to the people directly involved, makes life harder for responsible people with giant dogs.
Not gonna lie, I am obsessed with the dog thing. To me it says “I could have raped you, you know.” It is so cold and calculating.
Oh yeah. It’s “you are in my power and I can hurt you if I feel like it.” NOPE.
It makes me want to go find this guy and train his dog to love me more than him.
That would be appropriate vengeance. Can we train the dog to not let him anywhere close to drunk or frightened women while we’re at it?
How about just all women, ever. That would be easier. 😉
I’m a dog owner and lover. But dogs have been ruled as “deadly weapons” in legal proceedings. Dogs, especially very big and vocal/jumpy can be terrifying. In no way did he NOT know that. He was using his dog as an extension of his power to punish (Yes! Captain-perfect word!) and threaten you further. Fuck that guy for being a disgusting rapey human and fuck him again for using his dog to further terrorize you.
“I could do anything I want to you.”
Yup. Like guys who smash things or punch walls during a fight. There’s just enough distance to say ‘I’ve never hit my wife/girlfriend’ and at the same time as sending a loud and clear message to her exactly how he could.
Yeah. An ex of mine threw things. Not AT me, but they were always MY things. It finally clicked that this was headed towards him hitting me when I came home after we had argued on the phone to find most of the figurines I had collected since 7th grade smashed on the floor. He had obviously pulled them off the shelf and thrown them against the opposite wall. (He wasn’t home when I got there.) I left that night.
My goodness Anon, goodnight, that’s terrible and I am so, so glad to hear you got out ok.
I find the displaced violence thing super hard because it often comes with a dose of ‘look what you made me do’, as well as our own brains often telling us ‘he couldn’t possibly actually hit me’ because dealing with the reality that he might is so psychologically traumatic.
Anon, my mom did this to me when I was barely 16. She’d been abusive for years but this was the worst. I ran away until I was 18 but not before she had softened me up for my future abusive boyfriend.
Oh yeah. And yanno, it’s not that hard for a dog to learn to behave well.
He is a lousy human being
Even if it is hard for a particular dog to learn for [reasons]…
Tough luck, scary assaulting guy! If your dog is a high needs dog, then do what you need to do to make it safe around people. If you can’t manage that, rehome your pup and get a dog for beginners.
Which is to say- scary assaulting guy is using his dog as a weapon. He’s endangering LW, other people, and the dog in the process.
I am all in for shinobi’s plan to dognap the hound, retrain it so it loves me best, and have it become.a canine parole officer, ensuring scary assaulting guy never has access to a woman ever again.
Yeah. The dog thing is giving me a full-body shiver. The message is, “I could do anything I want to you.”
I’m stuck on the dog thing because like, even in a completely different, neutral-to-positive time and place, like even if it had happened in LW’s favorite park on a lovely spring day, with several of LW’s favorite other friends and a nice picnic lunch around (instead of, you know, in “friend”‘s isolated house, the morning directly after he assaulted her, and while she was hungover) — even then, it would be a horrible, boundary-ignoring, unfriendly thing to do. The dog thing is, in and of itself, a serious foul in my book.
Yes, my reaction exactly. It’s not the dog’s fault of course, but its scumbag owner used it to demonstrate that LW wasn’t safe, in much the same vibe as if he’d had a huge male friend hanging around looming over LW and being obviously on the creepy guy’s Team Creep.
It’s also so cowardly. He uses another creature as a threat. “I don’t want to imply that I’M violent, that might look kind of messed up (even though I did). Ah, my dog! I can use him instead! And it has even more plausible deniabilty! Yay, I can still see myself as a good guy!” I’m sure he tells himself “Well, my dog didn’t like her, and you know how dogs have that magical ability to ~sense badness~, therefore, SHE’S the a-hole.” -100,000,000 points from him if he knows you get nervous around dogs.
Oh, LW, you are good. You don’t deserve this. You will find good people.
Well, it sounds like it’s even more than that. He didn’t actively do anything with the dog, per se. He just looked at the dog harassing her (through no fault or ill intent of the dog’s, apparently, but likely at least somewhat because of lack of decent training) and thought, “Yeah, that is a thing that I approve of. I’ll let that keep happening.”
I mean, it wouldn’t be better if he’d actively threatened her or been violent, certainly. But it sure speaks to a shallowness of character that whatever was keeping him from being actively violent wasn’t also causing him to get the dog to stand down. And it makes me think that whatever is keeping him from being actively violent is similarly shallow and malleable.
“He didn’t actively do anything with the dog, per se. He just looked at the dog harassing her…” Once she asked him to get the dog away from her and he didn’t, it’s stopped being a passive action.
I think you must be using somewhat different definitions of the words than I am — I’m merely using “active” to mean whether he is acting, in the simplistic literal sense, or not. And here, he apparently just stood there, rather than getting the dog away from her, which is basically my definition of “not active”.
To be clear, I’m not intending to imply any moral judgement by the word. I’d say this is a very clear example of why a person can be just as morally culpable for inaction as they might be for action. Personally, I almost find this more repugnant because it implies he’s the sort of person who thinks it’s more okay because he “didn’t do anything to her” even though he’s just as responsible as if he did.
I’m assuming the moral judgement of responsibility is how you’re using the word, in which case we’re in strong agreement with different words. 🙂
@Brooks – I mean clearly an active choice to act badly with respect to the dog situation. It’s *plausible* that until the LW said something, that he wasn’t really noticing the dog’s behavior (though, given his behavior of the previous night, not bloody likely.) Once the LW asked him to get control of the dog and he refused (ignoring her request is a refusal, even if he says nothing), he was actively using the dog to punish the LW. You don’t *accidentally* fail to control your dog when you are in the same room with someone who is asking you to keep your dog from jumping on her. It doesn’t matter if he didn’t move an inch in this exchange. He actively/affirmatively chose to let his dog keep behaving in a way that invaded the LW’s personal space and that LW made clear was bothering her. He used the dog to exert power over the LW and to once again violate her boundaries.
@Courtney: Thanks for explaining. Yup, I think we’re in strong agreement with different words — he very affirmatively chose to do nothing when he had a clear responsibility to do something and unquestionably knew about that responsibility. (And I bet that he feels like the “did nothing” part of it makes him less responsible for it than if he had done something directly to her that morning, and I am disgusted and angry at him for feeling that way, on top of all the rest of the reasons I am disgusted and angry with him.)
I don’t mean to imply that he’d be a better person if he attacked LW directly. I LOVE how you phrased it-
“But it sure speaks to a shallowness of character that whatever was keeping him from being actively violent wasn’t also causing him to get the dog to stand down. And it makes me think that whatever is keeping him from being actively violent is similarly shallow and malleable.”
Do you mind if I steal this for in real life conversations? That was almost lyrical.
I’ve thought it over, and I think the thing with the dog was gaslighting. It will be hard to explain to certain people why the dog’s aggression was a threat the owner was creating. I’ve had times where my small, friendly dogs are a pain in the butt (sometimes literally- puppy loves jumping up and down to lick rear ends), and some people will conflate “Dog doing annoying dog thing” with “Owner allowing and approving of annoying (and dangerous) dog thing”. And I think he knew that people would be more likely to support him if he could say “She didn’t like my dog jumping on her” versus “She claims I was lunging at her and growling”.
Also, as some other commenters pointed out, his viciousness may have bad consequences for the dog, as well as the next woman he tries this tactic on. So while violence is never good, I do think this is pretty sneaky and cowardly.
The dog situation sent shivers down my spine.
I would also point out that besides this being a JERKY LOUSY thing to do to LW and other women who may have been in her shoes (or will be in her shoes in the future), it also puts an animal he pretends to care about in a very dangerous position, because if the dog ever attacks someone it will probably be put down for something its human taught (or at least allowed) it to do.
I feel sorry for that poor pooch. Not only is it being poorly trained, but the owner is permitting behavior that could get it put down.
Y’know, the funny thing is, if his badly trained dog had flipped out and bitten the LW, I bet her friends would’ve been a whole lot more sympathetic about her not wanting to hang out with it again.
Because, generally, dogs don’t get a free pass because oh, it’s just their nature! If you didn’t want the dog to bite a chunk out of you, why did you go near it? Everyone knows that all dogs bite! You should’ve brought a tranquillizer gun with you! Why didn’t you learn self-defense so you could fight it off?
Sucks to be a dog, I guess, and have to live up to such high standards.
I had an incident at the dog part recently where a guy with a huge dog stood doing nothing as it jumped all over me and grabbed at my little dog i was holding in my arms. When i told him to control his dog he told me it was my fault for how i was treating my dog. Then laughed with his friend like it was a big joke.
I was freaked out – i was shakey with adrenaline after but i hadn’t planned to report it because noone was hurt. But my bf said we should and he filed a complaint.
Turns out this same guy was known to them and had had 4 complaints in the last month.
My point being that these kinds of arsehats need reporting so that they get a reputation because guarantee you’re not the only one they have done it to.
Yeah, this stuck out to me too. I had never thought of it this way, but: I remember a guy that I rejected at a drunken hotel party/eventual orgy the night before did something similar to me the next morning. I had confided in him before that I thought that this one dude that was there was really creepy. While I was sitting on the bed talking to people and drinking coffee, he said to that guy, “Hey, [me] looks like she could use a back rub!” The guy had been offering back rubs and getting no takers. I had to say “No thank you” really firmly to get him not to. Rejected sulky dude was smirking at me the whole time. I remember feeling mortified not just for me, but for the creepy back rubber, who was socially awkward and likely painfully aware that he was being made fun of.
So… the guy used his creepy friend the way this guy used his big dog. As punishment and intimidation.
I’m so sorry this happened to you. I agree with the Captain. He set this up, knowing how you felt. Then he punished you for saying no. And now other people in your social group will likely punish you as well. It is the unfairest.
LW, I’m so sorry this happened. It feels awful enough to be disillusioned by a friend not being who you thought they were, let alone feel so threatened and disrespected by someone you trusted.
It’s so dispiriting to think about how common this kind of behaviour is and how many excuses are made for it, and think about how many men I know who seem like lovely people would probably act this way given the chance. And how would you possibly know before something bad happened? And so much “education” about sexual assault is centred around the comparatively rare scenario of evil strangers who jump out of bushes – I guess because “remember people who seem sweet and trustworthy have a good chance of being opportunistic predators, especially if they’re male and you’re female” isn’t something anybody likes to hear even if it’s true?
I have been in a similar situation. Here is what I’ve found.
A lot of people who would NEVER coerce someone into sex, have internalized coercive ideas. Like, “if men couldn’t get women drunk, nobody would ever have sex!” Ideas about coercive behavior being normal. Sometimes, with those people, I find it helpful to challenge them to think not about what’s “normal,” but about what they would actually do. Like, “You say that, but I don’t think *you* would ever do something like that.” Or, “Well, what do *you* do when someone’s not interested? I’ve never seen you get someone drunk.” That framework can get people more in touch with their empathy and morality.
Some people will also respond better to a framework of betrayal-of-friendship. You might have better luck framing it as “We were friends for three years, I can’t believe he manipulated me/disregarded my feelings/was so cruel to me.”
But having to explain such a clear-cut situation is exhausting and demeaning. I found that it was worth it to reach out to seemingly-ambivalent friends in only a few cases– for the most part I just jettisoned the people who were not on board. Good luck.
“A lot of people who say they would NEVER coerce someone into sex”
Actually, I was talking about non-coercive people who have internalized excuses for coercive behaviors. These people exist! There are a lot of them! And when I have taken the time and energy to engage with them about the disconnect between their (good) behavior and the (horrible) behavior they were willing to excuse, they have often been very receptive and eager to learn and do better.
More to the point of the letter, it sounds like the LW’s social circle might have this type of person in it. I was sharing my experiences engaging with people I trusted who were being disappointingly ambivalent. Perhaps I should have been more clear that I was talking about how to navigate the social circle, not how to think about the violation itself.
I agree with you. that’s, to me, the very definition of rape culture–that everyone, non-rapists included, just see a lot of this stuff as totally normal, often because they’ve internalized it so hard they don’t even realize it. I don’t think every person who has internalized that stuff would coerce someone into sex; in fact, rape culture requires that people who wouldn’t still shrug off/think of as normal all these toxic cultural ideas, many of which revolve around alcohol.
What Lasers said. It’s not only about predators Sometimes it actually takes thinking “What would I think of MYSELF if *I* did this” to realise the idea is horrifying, the conditioning that well, some men somewhere really can’t help it is so strong.
“Would *I* ever do to anyone what my boyfriend did to *me*” was the moment that made me begin to realise it might not have been an innocent mismatch of expectations and I might not be overreacting.
Yeah, I’ve noticed that too. Where people defend behavior they would never themselves participate in, but seem protective of the “right” to do so anyway (by which I mean, they actively discourage pushback from society about it). I’m going to try your tactic of asking them point blank if this is something they would personally do.
Just a guy chiming in to say “Wait, what? Nope! Hell no!” to the actions of creepy dude, and a double middle finger to the ones minimizing that behavior.
Perhaps you, like me, have also become aware that “People joke about their truths.” And men will sometimes say things they wouldn’t while in the company of women. So, my hope is that when a man starts up with “Henh henh, amirite?” while in your hearing, that you see that those criminals are expecting to be validated by other men. They read a silence as permission.
You can help Be The Change and very firmly express horror and rejection of them, in the moment, while you in those groups. It will matter, it will further cultural change, that your words and actions firmly match what you are saying here.
I would have reacted exactly the same way, including the pretending everything is okay the next morning and then GTFO ASAP. That’s a totally normal and sensible way to react to this kind of sudden predatory behavior by someone you thought you could trust. (And I’m beyond sad that this happens enough for us to use words like ‘normal’ and ‘sensible’ in connection with defending yourself from a predator WHO WAS A FRIEND, OH MY GOD.) He’d stopped attacking you at that point, and you were pretty sure that if you didn’t escalate the situation, he wouldn’t escalate it either (beyond being grumpy and letting his dog harass you, which holy crap, that is not benign) and you’d be able to get out of there without things getting any worse. That’s a solid strategy. Some part of you knew how to get out of there with a minimum of damage, and you did it. Good for you.
Everything about this situation is unfair and sucky, and it is 100% his fault. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.
My heart is breaking for you. The loss of what you thought was a good friendship is worth grieving for – because it is gone. True friendship relies on a big ole foundation of trust, and that is what he smashed to bits that night. Your trust in him.
You are an intelligent, logical, reasonable being put into a surreal and scary as hell situation. I hope your sense of safety is soon restored and that you have some support you can lean on as you process all of this.
This was not a “small thing”. From the other comments, it’s clear that your letter has resonated with a lot of us -sadly, our club is larger than it ought to be – but know you’re not alone and hands are reaching out to help you through. Peace and love to you, Anxy.
On a tangent, I would like to say how charming I find the slang ‘defo’ and ‘anxy’. Will adopt henceforth.
On topic, reading the Captain’s response was just like a balm.
a++ lolstralian slang
LW, you are not overreacting in the slightest. This sounds terrifying, and good for you for keeping a clear head and getting out of there as quickly and safely as possible. Anyone who would tell you that you’re overreacting, or say “what did you expect, men gonna men” do not have your best interests at heart. And I’m very sorry about that; I’m sorry that you’re having to find who your real friends are now. But it is not your fault, not at all. This is 100% on him.
LW, I have stayed with many friends, some of whom were male, and some of whom took it as an occasion to make a pass. Fortunately for me, they happened to NOT be giant creepazoids when I said NOOOOOOPE but this could have been me, or anyone else, is what I’m saying. This is an unexceptional thing to do! You did a regular thing! It should have been fine! It is 100% not your fault or responsibility that this dude took the occasion to not only make a pass but then take it all the way to physical assault and terrorizing you with his dog (SO not cool, so creepy, so wrong).
It’s unfortunate and wrong that society’s ‘rules’ for women seem to be ‘treat every male person as if he might rape you at every time.’ It precludes the possibility of friendship, casual relationships, or regular social interactions. It’s terrible that people who calls themselves your friends are blaming you for not thinking your friend was going to assault you.
If it’s possible for you to avoid seeing him, like, EVER, mutual friends or no, I think that is an entirely reasonable way to go. (Of that won’t work for you, that’s cool too! Your boundaries are yours!). Jf.
“Treat every male person as if he might rape you at every time” but also, simultaneously, “#notallmen you man-hating harpy how dare you,” of course. Sigh.
Basically, ignore all danger signs up until the point you are being assaulted – at which point, how did you not see all those danger signs and magically intuit the exact right thing to do/say to keep yourself safe?!
No, no, those aren’t danger signs. Danger signs are never about the man. They’re about what the woman is doing.
Or something like that, as far as I can tell. Sigh.
“It’s unfortunate and wrong that society’s ‘rules’ for women seem to be ‘treat every male person as if he might rape you at every time.’”
And then when you do, it’s “don’t be so meeeeaaaan, just give him a chance.” It’s like they don’t actually want to give us the opportunity to say no.
And even if you say “no,” in their minds either “no means yes” or “no means try harder.”
“It’s like they don’t actually want to give us the opportunity to say no.”
THAT. It’s the unstated goal of the double standard. “Don’t be a vulnerable idiot!/Don’t be a mean hateful hag!” both translate to “just don’t say NO, ladies, period.” Gah.
LW, you are 100% right and I am glad you are safe. Ditch the turd-friends who don’t support you; life is short, but it is also long, and there are plenty of better friends you haven’t met yet.
LW, you were in a horrible situation, and you handled it beautifully.
To be honest, I don’t think I would have handled it nearly as well. I would have ended up in a situation I didn’t want to be in, doing things I regretted, and feeling like it was my fault. And our friendship would still have ended, possibly with the added bonus of years of creepy drunk dials. (Not that I have any experience with this…. at all…. or anything.)
You should be proud of how you stood up for yourself and protected your boundaries. And angry at this guy for not respecting them. You shouldn’t have to tell a friend no more than once. You shouldn’t have to kick them out of the room. And you shouldn’t be contemplating how to re train their dog for them over breakfast.
No matter what your friend thought they were doing, or tells other people he did, what he ultimately did was make you REALLY uncomfortable. You don’t have to tolerate that. Keep standing up for yourself.
LW, I don’t know if hearing about my (positive) experiences will be useful for you, but just in case:
I had a friend in a similar situation – we’d been friends for a long time, I knew he’d been interested in me (though I thought he was over it), I was staying over at his place, and I couldn’t go anywhere else that evening.
We went out for dinner, came back to his, and when it was getting late he said, “would you like to spend the night upstairs [i.e. with him] or should I get out the airbed?” I said, “I’ll take the airbed, thanks!” And he said, “sure” and started inflating it. And he left it at that, and I spent a comfortable night alone on the airbed.
That’s how a decent man treats that situation. He used his words, gave me the opportunity to use mine, and respected my answer. So if your friends are asking “what did you expect?” then I think you expected to be treated like my friend treated me. Because that’s how reasonable people behave! And I am really, really sorry that your friend behaved in such a vile way instead.
I have also had at least one positive experience that comes to mind –
Neighbor of mine (who happened to be a classmate and friend) and I spent the evening getting drunk and playing poker with a group. Later, he came by my place and started rubbing my shoulders. I stood up and said, “Well, this was fun but I’m going to bed – good night.” He started to follow me and said, “How about I come upstairs with you?” I said, “No.” He nodded and said, “Okay,” and left.
Next day it was as if nothing had happened. We kept the same friendship for the rest of the few years we were both in college.
I personally like collecting experiences and stories that show people being grownups and acting the way they are supposed to act. It just reinforces the idea to me that we are not being unreasonable with our expectations and it’s an in-your-face to all the “well you should have known” people.
I love the idea of modelling good behaviour as a way of fighting this prevalent culture of rape and coercion!
I have one that was with a super awkward awkward nerd guy, so it acts as a good counter to a lot of the myths about what one can expect from socially awkward people who can’t read social cues. I spent a weekend hanging out with a male friend and sleeping in his room while he took the couch in the living room. We hadn’t flirted and there was no expectation on my side that it was a date. On the last evening I started getting the weird feeling he was into me and, totally missing my cues of ‘not interested’ wherein I had started laying it on thick about how I wanted to get back with my ex, when we were watching TV in his room he told me he liked me. I said ‘sorry, no’, he looked a bit abashed but just said goodnight and went downstairs, end of story.
So, even with a super awkward guy who couldn’t use his words to ask for a date and created a hella awkward situation where the whole time had secretly been a date to him, and struggled to read the social cues hinting I woudln’t be interested, he still understood not to cross the line and a) touch me, b) try to push my no to yes.
I also have MULTIPLE examples of guys, who I invited to stay the night for the express purpose of staying in my bed, who ended up sleeping on the couch because I was drunk and they were afraid to make the first move.
I once decided I wanted to try casual sex so I picked up a friend of a friend at a club, got back to my house, made out with him, got naked and into bed with him and then suddenly realised that I really wasn’t into it. After a few brief moments of confusion (understandable, he wasn’t exactly sober) he got dressed and left. That’s it, end of story.
Like, we were naked! In my bed! Making out! I had definitely led him to believe both implicitly and explicitly that there would be sex and when there wasn’t he didn’t argue with me or hang around or make me feel bad. He just left. I think about that every time someone tells a story like the LW’s where they or other people ask “what did you expect” because that is what we should be able to expect. That at any point we can say “no”, no matter what we’ve said before, and have that respected.
The first time I had PIV sex as a teenager, it hurt WAY more than I was expecting, so I told my partner to stop, and he did immediately, with much expression of concern for my well being and no complaining/guilt-trip/pressure to try again. A grown-ass adult has no excuse for acting with less self-control than a teenager in the middle of an act generally known to send the hormone-level to 11.
Another teenage story: I was at a house party, and me and a long-time male friend ended up drunkenly crashing on the same couch. He started snuggling up and kissing my neck, and I utterly sucked at assertiveness back then, so I just kinda meekly pushed him a little. His response? He rolled over and went to sleep, and the rest of the night went by without incident. We’re still friendly to this day.
Most people want others to be comfortable and safe and will be on the lookout for ways to make that happen. LW, your non-friend did the exact opposite – he went out of his way to disregard your comfort. Fuck that dude.
A friend of mine talked about a time when she met up with an ex who was visiting her city, and she was kind of expecting they’d have sex. They had a few drinks, went back to his hotel room, some kissing and cuddling, and then somewhere along the way she realised they’d stopped kissing and cuddling and were just lying on the hotel bed chatting. She said, “oh hey, don’t you want to have sex after all?” He said, “Well, sure, but I noticed I was doing all the first moves, so I stopped to see if you’d take the initiative, and you didn’t, so I figured you’d weren’t really into it that much and that’s fine!”
My first time hurt a lot too. I didn’t have to tell the guy to stop, he asked more than once if I wanted to. I was all “NO KEEP GOING I have decided to get this done and WE ARE DOING THIS ow ow yes I’m sure!” which was maybe not the best decision but still active, energetic consent. I am so glad about that, because I would have had an even harder time figuring out later that Subsequent Dude had done a bad thing to me without being able to compare and contrast with someone who actually cared whether or not I was okay.
A grown-ass adult has no excuse for acting with less self-control than a teenager
I can add a teenage story to this. I once had my all-dudes group of friends over to my house for a party. We spent most of the night outside playing flashlight tag. At one point, and I absolutely cannot vouch for the order of events that led to this despite having been 100% sober, the five of them – all goodly sized, corn-fed Midwestern boys who each had about a hundred pounds on me – had tackled a laughing, screeching me to the ground, pinned me and tickled me long enough to *literally* hog tie me … and then, laughing, picked me up and brought me inside. And we had pizza and ice cream, and played GTA together til one in the morning.
It’s honestly only awkward to think about in hindsight, where adult-me is painfully aware of how very differently that story could have ended out in rural nowheresville. But the point is, it went the way it did, because I had a group of friends who weren’t coercive, boundary-violating assholes. LW, I’m so sorry this happened to you the way that it did, because you should absolutely have been able to expect that your friend would treat you like a human being, that your friend would respect your friendship and your stated boundaries.
Another positive example. My partner and I had had sex and gone to sleep. Some time later I woke up slightly, and about a minute later my partner rolled over, cuddled me, and started touching me. I moved their hand away, and we both fell back asleep. In the morning, I asked them how awake they were, and the answer was “not even enough to have formed a memory about it.” Even asleep people are better at consent than this creep.
I was thinking about all those studies that show that people — including men — understand “soft no” when it’s not in a sexual context just fine, but all that is totally overshadowed by “asleep people understand consent and the soft no better than assaulters pretend to.”
I have two exactly inverse experiences of this from traveling:
Experience one (longer, grumpier story.) I couchsurfed with a guy in a city. Didn’t know him, but he had lots of good reviews on the couchsurfing site, so I thought it was a reasonable risk. What he didn’t tell me UNTIL I GOT THERE was that his flatmates didn’t want me in the house (they were freaked out by the couchsurfing stranger thing) and that I shouldn’t leave his (tiny) room while I was in the house — so sleeping on the couch downstairs, the most comfortable arrangement, was right out (unless I was ready to wake up at 5 AM so none of his flatmates saw me.) THEN, after I had set up my sleeping bag on the floor, he told me he couldn’t stand to have me sleep on the floor, it offended him as a host, and I had to share the bed with him. Worst thing he said: “You’re an artist! This shouldn’t bother you!” UGH WHY DID I TELL HIM THAT.
My budget was tight, it was late, and I thought: fuck. Well, I guess I’m doing this. Nothing happened? But I couldn’t sleep AT FUCKING ALL. Ugh. The next day he asked me to leave and I was VERY THANKFUL.
It wasn’t the sharing the bed, it was the sharing of the bed AFTER I had clearly expressed I would clearly prefer to sleep on the couch or even the floor.
Experience two (shorter, happier story.) I couchsurfed with a friend in a different city. Knew him from working with him for a couple weeks. When I got there, it turned out he had five extra guests taking up all the extra couches. His proposal was that I sleep in his bed and he sleep on the floor. There was no weirdness about what I should or shouldn’t be comfortable with, and it wasn’t creepy because there had no testing of my boundaries beforehand.
Moral of story: LW YOU ARE FINE, YOUR “FRIEND” WAS BEING A SHITHEAD, UGH UGH UGH, I WANT TO PUSH HIM IN THE MUD FOR BEING SO GROSS.
I had a good friend who was also an ex (we had broken up a couple years previously) invite me to sleep over his house. After hanging out for a few hours, he was like, ‘awkward question, but do you want to have sex with me?’ I said ‘no,’ and he was like, ‘okay!’ and apologised if he had made me uncomfortable and we slept in the same bed that night with no issues.
So yep, seconding that it is possible for men to use their words and to be respectful. 🙂
Yes, this! One more person on the internet telling you that you didn’t “ask for it”, that you made okay choices, and you should have expected him to treat you like a valuable human being with the right to say no and have that no respected. I too have had co-ed slumber parties, and on rare occasions they have involved alcohol (very rare since alcohol often makes me sick). ALL of those guys have been thoughtful, respectful, and considerate. You know, like a FRIEND. Not trying to use me. You had every reason to expect that this guy would treat you that same way.
Can’t speak for the LW, but I so appreciate positive examples like this. As a kid I was very much indoctrinated into the mindset of “all people can and will hurt, trick, rape, or kill you at any given time and therefore you must exercise CONSTANT VIGILANCE and if you don’t it is YOUR FAULT if anything happens to you.” Sometimes it’s very helpful to get a reminder that actually, no, most people are not out to take something from you.
Two positive stories.
I didn’t have sex until my early twenties, but twice in my teens friends decided to “help” me lose my virginity.
At a party, after spending a while having a good conversation with a guy in his twenties, my friend got me drunk then told me to go lay down in the bedroom to rest. Conversation guy was in there. He had been told I wanted to have sex with him, but when he saw my state, he got me water and stayed in there talking with me until I sobered up. Then he thanked me for the conversation and took me back out to my friends.
Two friends took me to a motel room for a party. It was just three boys, and my friends paired off with two of them. I was uncomfortable, and the third boy asked if I’d like to go out to the pool. We sat in deck chairs and talked. He asked if he could kiss me and I said I’d rather not, so we walked to a nearby diner, chatted and ate, then he got his friend’s keys and drove me home.
We need a twitter tag #whatdidyouexpect with stories of men acting like decent people in situations where they could have raped someone.
“We need a twitter tag #whatdidyouexpect with stories of men acting like decent people in situations where they could have raped someone.”
I LOVE THIS IDEA.
Me too!! Both of those are totally awesome stories and examples of the way people SHOULD act towards each other.
I wanted to throw in another positive story here:
I have a friend who I had slept with several times not long before, but since the last time we had slept together,we had had a conversation about how I wasn’t much feeling casual sex anymore.
Soon after that we were watching a movie and I fell asleep on his couch. He offered to let me stay over, we slept together in his bed and he didn’t try anything. In the morning we were cuddling and being affectionate, and he looked down at me and said “can I kiss you?” and I said “no thank you!” and then we watched cartoons and got breakfast.
I just want to add in my positive experience, since it seems to be a thing.
The first time I met my boyfriend in person (we had met online through a mutual friend), I indicated that sex would not be happening because Reasons. He accepted this at face value, and never even brought it up. At one point, he’d been planning to spend the night with me at my hotel, and decided that his pantsfeels were strong enough that they could not be ignored. So he just kissed me good night and went home, instead of pressuring me to go further than I wanted. We’re currently living together, sharing a bed in a one bedroom apartment, and sex has still not happened, or even been suggested, because my boyfriend is a reasonable human being who understands boundaries. (He even stopped clinging to me at night, despite being a lamprey, because though we are both super affectionate people, it’s simply not physically comfortable for me.)
So screw those people who ask ‘What did you expect’, when what you expected was perfectly reasonable adult human behavior.
Also, I’d like to point out that I’ve babysat toddlers who had no problem understanding “please don’t do this thing to this other person because other person doesn’t like it.” And would, in fact, point out (often loudly) that *insert adult* shouldn’t do that thing either because other person didn’t like it. His behavior is scummy and 100% not on you.
This is just awful. And I hope the other friends are on LW’s side. Creeps don’t make good friends. But recent happenings in a local queer group I’m a part of have made me think about how friends and a community should address abuse.
Clearly, LW’s scenario is awful. But what’s the right thing to do when the alleged abuse is less clear-cut? In the scenario that happened recently in my group (of about 5000- all and then some of the city’s small LGBTQ community, basically), a young woman of color who has mental illness (not raising this to say abuse didn’t happen, just that it explains the debating and fighting and schism that followed), alleged that another young person, who was trans, had emotionally abused and gaslit her in a past relationship a year or two earlier, when they were both minors. She did post some screenshots from texts to support this, but she also named and shamed him in front of the aforementioned 5000 entire community. Many people supported her, but some people said, “I do not think you should name him” (a colleague of mine pointed out that the poster could face defamation charges for her post, and others said that “hey, this is where everyone in the community can see, and the LGBTQ community is so important to everyone that I don’t think that without a process and opportunity for the other person to share their side, they should be kicked out of the only real queer community in the state,” and that “hey, if we always allow naming of people without moderation or due process, an abuser could also accuse their victim wrongly and then the victim would not be able to refute it- doesn’t that support the gaslighting you’re alleging?”). There were also some friends of the person defending them.
But, to every comment, even those not saying “But X is a great person!” that did not completely agree with the person got shouted down by her and her friends as people being racist and abuse apologists. Some people also tried to offer, in other posts, a more nuanced view that mental illness, addiction, and poverty (big problems in that community), can be major factors in emotional abuse and that someone should not be forever named on the permanent internet and kicked from their community for something they may have done while high/drunk/in a mental illness episode/under great stress. Some of these types of posters also shared negative actions towards partners and family as a result of such things, and were shouted at for “agreeing with/supporting abusers.”
The group split after this, with maybe 10-20% of people making and going to a new Facebook group with different rules (allowing naming of abusers, only POC can discuss race, and other things- some good for those who left who were largely minorities, some I disagree with, but, you know, not my circus.
Sorry for the rant. It’s just been on my mind- what is enough to kick someone from a community or friend group, and especially in larger groups, what should the process be to hear from all sides? I just think that sexually coercing someone like in the letter, or physically abusing them, is qualitatively different from emotional abuse, which is more easily dished out and more easily stopped than violence.
Sorry, I was waiting for the part of your comment that was relevant to the LW’s situation?
I was meaning to finish my comment, sorry. Anyway, LW deserves to be able to disassociate from this creep and have their friends side with her. What he did wasn’t okay. But, I think that with non-physical or sexual coercion or abuse in a friend group or community, it’s going to be harder to decide what to do. Not to say emotional abuse isn’t abuse but that it’s much more nebulous and harder to pin down- and more of a “X said, Y said” problem.
This seems like a good topic for the forums or its own question. The reminder “But there are exceptions when you don’t know all the facts and there are bigger issues involved” isn’t a good fit for the LW’s situation.
I would like a post about this, as I am familiar with the situation you describe and have been wracking my brain ever since it began in terms of questions about how the whole thing could have been handled better. If you had a specific question, I think this community is one of the very few places that might be able to talk through the whole “how to deal with this stuff given the internet, inequality, etc” thing and reach some useful conclusions. Would support a post!
That’s what I was thinking as well- I put it on FoCA under “standards for kicking someone out of a community?” I really think that there’s a lot of room for good mediation or at least some sort of community process- given that there are a lot of good social-justice minded types and several people with experience in the legal field in that group.
*waves at fellow queer from my state* What heading is it under? I’m curious to read this community’s thoughts.
LW, let me add to this chorus of voices here that you did nothing wrong.
Just imagine what it would be like to live life without having the constant nagging worry of is this person unsafe? are they trying to get me alone? can I really trust them? do I need to be careful how much I drink around them?.
Oh wait. Men do!
The Captain’s advice is spot on, and LW, I would recommend (if and only if you want to!) getting out in front of what I’m sure his narrative will be (she led me on! She got drunk! Look at her leading me on by getting drunk and being female in my presence!) and maybe reaching out to some of your friends and letting them know what happened. Their reactions will tell you all you need to know about whether it’s worth keeping them as friends.
And finally, your rape-y “friend” is a garbage human – a literal, trash and shit filled Dumpster fire of a human being.
Unfortunately, blanket statements along the lines of “Men don’t have to worry” are inaccurate. They serve to drive men’s stories of surviving rape, incest and abuse, back underground.
When I was relatively young, my then-husband didn’t tell me that he’d been sexually assaulted by another man while at work until after we’d been married for five years. He said he didn’t think anyone would believe him.
They’re two sides of the same ugly coin – one side insists women have to police their behaviour rigidly to prevent themselves from being raped because men are forever-horny animals, the other side insists that rape can’t happen to men because it’s something that men do to women (and if a man rapes another man, it’s not as big of a deal because rape isn’t damaging for men like it is for women). Both ideas are dangerous bullshit that stop men and women from seeking support and/or reporting the crime.
But men, as a group, generally don’t worry. (I don’t know about “don’t have to worry” but they certainly aren’t encouraged to worry). I think that can even be a factor sometimes unique to men who have been assaulted, especially by a woman, to have not in any way steeled themselves for the destruction of their sense of safety.
I think it’s a fair call to say that [most] men don’t generally think about these things. There is no pressure to be a mind reader that behaves perfectly according to all bystanders to avoid rape/be believed if you’re raped. I think the lack of that constant background noise can be a big obstacle in communicating what rape culture means, as they cannot imagine feeling unsafe or at least being told they should for their whole lives.
That in no way erases how awful rape of men is or how wonderfully (-_-) society deals with it.
@Hrovitnit, thank you for understanding my comment.
Right, it’s not so much ‘men are not raped’ as ‘sexual violence is not something that most men expect or fear on a regular basis’. Which can actually be devastating the male rape victims.
*Cis men do.
I’m trans and even though I’m fully “passing” and have been for years, I still carry my keys in between my fingers when I walk home at night, and I have trust issues off the scale. Some things are so ingrained that they never really go away.
Recently have heard a coworker friend use the phrase “I mean, I could have escalated things after she said no. I’m a decent guy, so I didn’t” when he’d been pushing for activity with a woman and she wasn’t ok going past makeouts.
I was furious; you can say “no” at any time, this isn’t “teasing” or “cockblocking”.
LW, even if you hadn’t used your words, you pulling away and leaving the room and being visibly uncomfortable would be enough for a friend to back off. Yes, some people have trouble reading cues, but there is a difference between being unable to observe body language and ignoring it completely.
His sober behavior really seals the deal on his nastiness; I’m sorry you were hurt by your friend, who decided your boundaries were negotiable/should be ignored or burst through.
Small piece of advice? If you find yourself missing him and feeling sad, past the anger and ick, that’s ok too. It’s ok to grieve the loss of someone who has hurt us, even if they are a very toxic person. You may end up with more people on your Team Me than you thought, supporting you through this, and they may find it weird that you feel conflicted on this.
That’s ok. You do what you need to, to feel comfortable with yourself and your friends and your surroundings.
Congrats to your coworker friend for only contemplating sexual assault as an option and not actually doing it? That’s…. ew.
Also seconding your point that missing people and feeling sad – even when they’re objectively horrible people – is normal and okay. Losing a friendship sucks.
I’d be super tempted to hand him a cookie and walk off.
~…but the cookie would be filled with poison…~
Is your coworker Dennis from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia? The stuff he’s saying sounds like something from “The Implication”. Gross.
Oh, ew ew ew. “I could have escalated things”=I could have committed sexual assault. Yes, at any moment, any of us could have committed a crime! I could have punched the person who annoyed me in the coffee line this morning! I could have stolen my friend’s stuff when I was over at his house! Etc. The fact of bringing up the “I could have” in this case at all seems to be saying that it was because of her behaviour that he “could have”, that because they were making out, it would open the door to it being more ‘reasonable’ or…something.
I don’t know, there’s just a lot there that is creepy as hell. I don’t go around pointing out all the times I technically could have done something terrible but didn’t, after all…
“I *could* have taken a dump on the floor of my friend’s condo, but I’m a reputable housesitter, so I refrained.”
Wisdom for life: be the housesitter, not the houseshitter. 🙂
Thanks, I needed the laugh that gave me. 🙂
LW, I’m so sorry this is happening to you.
May I just say two things?
You were two hours away from your home town, alone in the home of a guy much bigger than you, and with a big dog as well. Not saying anything that morning wasn’t not sticking up for yourself, it was a smart thing to do to make sure you get out of there okay.
As for the “what did I expect part” – even if there had been a way for you to know; hell, even if you had gone there as his date and had totally been planning on having sex with him! As soon as you said “no”, none of it matters. Questions like “what did you expect” imply that him touching you without your permission would somehow be more okay if you had expected it. It WOULDN’T. Being able to foresee something doesn’t equal permission.
I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said already, so I’ll just quote Sergeant Murphy from the Dresden Files: “The reason betrayal is so loathed is that it generally comes from the last person you’d expect.”
I am so angry and sad that you don’t have that friend anymore.
He was horrible.
He assaulted you (for real!), even so you got out of the situation safely. I applaud you.
I hope your friends are horrified by your ex friend. Let me rephrase: I hope all of your acquaintance will be your friends, and that they will drop him in horror .
LW, you are not alone and you did nothing wrong.
This story hits home for me because something similar happened to me with a man that was (supposed to be) a very good friend of mine. Similarly, this friend had feelings for me which I shot down early on in our friendship, but it became (without my realizing it at first) into a grooming situation wherein he continued to be an awesome, helpful, supportive guy that I trusted. The result of this was him creating multiple situations in which he tested my boundaries, always seeking a way for my “no” to become a “yes”. Half of this was done while he was dating someone else!
After one too many of these incidences, I called for a friendship break. It wasn’t easy and looking back now at what I said, I’m sad that I didn’t give myself permission to eject that guy more forcibly than I did. I gave a lot of reasons and justified things because I was still trying to protect his feelings (!!) despite everything. They sought me out after my proposed break and I told them that I didn’t want to restart our friendship because at the end of the day, I didn’t trust him anymore. Even when he was “apologizing” for past behavior, it was all in the context of how he felt and what he needed. Fuck that shit. And anyone who justifies shitty behavior like that can also fuck right off.
So, of course you feel betrayed, because you were! When someone we love and trust and hold dear threatens us, makes us question ourselves, and violates our boundaries, it is heart-wrenching and so wholly emotionally debilitating. Please give yourself time to mourn the loss of this friendship, and forgive yourself for your feelings of self-doubt. These situations happen because they are calculated and planned on by predators, not because you’re crazy for trusting a human being that was supposed to be your friend. Real friends don’t create situations where they can take advantage of and/or harm you!
You are a brave and courageous person! It may take time to move past the shock and horror that this guy caused for you, and it may be exacerbated by turds that claim to be your friends but don’t back you up. You are strong and you deserve better than to be treated poorly for someone else’s actions. Healing and support to you!!
Hi LW. You didn’t do anything wrong. Your “friend” turned out to be a creepy asshole who, after you said “not interested but totally down with being friends” waited for an opportune time to try and coerce you into having sex. He waited 9 months. NINE MONTHS. He acted chill for 9 months until he could lie to you and get you in a position where he could try to force you to have sex with him. That’s so gross of him. He is a gross person. If anyone tells you it was spontaneous or he couldn’t help himself or whatever, remember that he acted chill to give you a false sense of security for NEARLY A YEAR. That’s not spontaneity. That’s pretty much the opposite of spontaneity.
You, on the other hand, got out the door okay. You did what it took–you sized up the situation, figured out what to do to get out the door safely, and then you did it. Well done you.
Your so-called friends who are telling you that’s just how dudes are? If they are dudes, they have given you a very important piece of information about themselves, namely that they would rape a woman if they got her alone. If they are women, sadly, they’re telling you that they wouldn’t help you stop a dude from raping you. So it might be sad but it’s also important information.
I’m so sorry that this happened.
You did nothing wrong. Nothing at all. You have absolutely no responsibility for his actions.
Having been through something…not exactly similar, but a sexual assault anyhow (which, by the way, I went to the police and then court for and it was a much more horrific experience than the assault itself so if anyone dares fucking say to you ‘why didn’t you call the police?’ please laugh in their idiot, uninformed faces) and I have a couple of pieces of advice based on my own experience.
1. Give yourself a break if you can’t have the righteously pissed off reaction that you think should. I felt conflicted for a long time, I felt I may have contributed to what happened for a long time – and then I felt guilty as hell about feeling that way, because it wasn’t the reaction I wanted myself to have, and if I felt that way was I really, really sure of what happened? It’s natural to be conflicted. It’s natural to try to assign yourself some blame – because if you did something wrong you can prevent it from happening again and keep yourself safe! Unfortunately that’s not how it works, but basically this all takes ages to work out in your own head, so give yourself a break if you don’t feel the way you think you should.
2. In time you will look back on the friends who supported him instead of you, the friends you lost because of this, and be fucking glad they are gone. Because they are assholes, and fuck them. These people are showing you their true faces right now and they’re saying “I am not worth your time or energy”. It’s incredibly hard to lose people at the time, but keep in my that one day you will look back and feel relieved that they are gone.
Take care of yourself, LW. Treat yourself kindly, and if/when you feel conflicted, think “if someone else came to me and told me about this experience, what would I think?” That little bit of distance can really help you understand what’s going on in your head.
Check out the hashtag #Ghomeshi on Twitter right now, for the answer to “why didn’t you call the police?” Or don’t, if you don’t feel like being outraged about the way women are treated when they report an assault.
In time you will look back on the friends who supported him instead of you, the friends you lost because of this, and be fucking glad they are gone. Because they are assholes, and fuck them. These people are showing you their true faces right now and they’re saying “I am not worth your time or energy”. It’s incredibly hard to lose people at the time, but keep in my that one day you will look back and feel relieved that they are gone.
This is brilliant. There are so many levels of suckiness to what you’re going through now, not the least of which is that you may end up having to re-evaluate all your friendships using this filter. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through all this, and I hope you can find a safe way to come out the other side.
That’s for the recommendation, it’s actually quite soothing in a strange way, like how sad music sounds best when you’re sad? It’s validating. The police were mostly ok with me but court was awful. One of his defence’s first questions were “do you find him attractive?” and I completely lost my shit. My heart goes out to the victims giving evidence at that trial; it was truly re-traumatizing and I now feel more anxious remembering the trial than I do remembering the assault.
This isn’t to put people off who *do* want to report anything that happened to them – including you, LW, by the way, because yes you were definitely sexually assaulted and yes he definitely broke the damn law and you have a right to seek justice – but it’s just another piece of the entitlement puzzle; society is designed to make excuses for guys like this. LW, you stood up for yourself. You stood up for yourself in a world which is structured at every level to *stop* you standing up for yourself – I hope one day you get to a place where you can feel proud of that, because you deserve to.
Seeing the outpouring of support for Ghomeshi’s victims has been unbelievably healing to me as a rape survivor.
In time you will look back on the friends who supported him instead of you, the friends you lost because of this, and be fucking glad they are gone. Because they are assholes, and fuck them. These people are showing you their true faces right now and they’re saying “I am not worth your time or energy”. It’s incredibly hard to lose people at the time, but keep in my that one day you will look back and feel relieved that they are gone.
Quoted for motherfucking truth.
He *did* sexually assault you (touching your breast without permission), *and* he attempted to rape you (buying you drinks when you said you’d had enough, getting into bed with you after you said no, pulling you back when you tried to leave). The fact he gave up after a while doesn’t make it any less an attempted rape. Had he worn you down that night into sex, it would have been rape. Like the Captain, I would be surprised if this is the first time he’s done something like this. This was planned. Probably for a long time. Sorry you have shitty friends who are blaming *you*. And what they’re saying about him being male and drunk is utter bullshit. I have a casual partner with whom I’ve often had consensual drunk sex with. And yet, even though we’ve had sex, even though we’ve had sex while drunk, when I’ve been drunk past a certain point, he hasn’t touched me (except a hug goodbye). EVEN THOUGH HE’S ALSO DRUNK. I’m willing to bet, by the way, that that creep wasn’t nearly as drunk as you were, and that was intentional on his part.
What scripts of wisdom can you give me to say to him? I have a feeling that he will get angry at me and say I’m making it bigger than it was and ask why I continued speaking to him the next day.
To paraphrase Jay Smooth, you want to have the “what they did” conversation, not the “who they are” conversation. No one can know what’s in a person’s heart or mind, and calling him a rapist or a predator or a creep just lets the conversation fall into that Bermuda Triangle of people’s inner thoughts and feelings and other bullshit cop-outs. Instead, keep the focus on what they did, in the simplest, clearest terms:
“You groped me during the cab ride home, and I told you ‘no’.”
“You followed me into my bedroom, even though I didn’t ask you to.”
“I asked you to leave my bedroom. You didn’t leave.”
“I tried to get out of bed. You grabbed me and pulled me back into the bed.”
“I left the room. You stayed in my guest room for 20 minutes after I left, after I asked you to leave.”
This is also a good strategy in speaking with any shared friends. Don’t talk about who is is, or how he might feel, or what he might think. Keep the focus on what he did, and why it wasn’t OK.
Or is having a drunk girl in your house just too good of an opportunity to miss?
OK, so one more tip for your future conversations with him and with other people in this group: watch how the passive voice is deployed.
“…having a drunk girl in your house” is a good one. “There’s a drunk girl in my house! How did she get there? How did she get drunk? I don’t know, it’s a mystery!”
You didn’t just happen to be there, and you didn’t just magically become drunk through no actions of his. If it was a “good opportunity”, it’s one he deliberately created through his actions, the culmination of hours of effort on his part, not some spontaneous event that he stumbled across through blind luck with no other context.
Some friends are like, he’s a guy, he was drunk…
There it is again, the passive voice! “How did he get drunk? How should I know? Why should it matter?”
…obviously men can’t use their head once alcohol has hit their system
Alcohol hits their system. The alcohol does the hitting! How did it get in their system? Who could possibly foresee the effects of alcohol on one’s own behavior, and how could anyone make decisions ahead of time about it?
Responsible adults don’t talk like this. A responsible adult should say “hey, if a guy get all rape-y when he drinks, then he shouldn’t drink when he’s around women.” A responsible adult would say “if you’re tempted to rape your drunk female house guests, then you shouldn’t keep buying your female house guests drinks until they’re drunk.”
Keep score by what people do, not what they say, and call out the passive voice when it’s used as a defense. Good luck, LW.
Oh ye gods, ALL OF THIS. I am so sick of a world that immediately looks for the “responsible party” about almost any bad thing that happens, but the moment it’s a case of sexual assault, every. damn. sentence. becomes ” … ended up drunk”, “… wound up in his house”, “… was away from her friends”.
As if these *aren’t deliberate tactics used by predators to prey on people* (especially women).
The passive voice makes me so, so mad in stories like this. LW, remember, these were deliberate actions by a guy who knew where you stood and CHOSE TO DISREGARD THAT. REPEATEDLY. Not your fault. Keep your head up. ❤
I really appreciate this framing so much! thanks!
Yes – I totally missed the passive voice framing. Mistakes were made (but not by me). Brilliant.
And the thing that just hit me is that we’re even doing it at various points in the comments. So many of us are saying “I’m sorry that this happened to you.” And I know we’re just using it as a convenient shorthand to encompass the whole series of events, but the truth is that it didn’t “happen.” This guy did it.
So, LW, I’m so sorry that this guy you’d known for years deliberately chose to betray your trust. I’m sorry he tried to rape you. I’m sorry that someone you considered a friend hurt you, and I’m sorry for any ensuing weirdness and conflict he causes in your circle of friends. You did nothing wrong. It’s all on him.
THIS 100 TIMES THIS.
My degree is Ling & Anthro, and when we were doing Language and Culture, my (amazing pioneering feminist) professor had us read several pieces about the language of rape trials.**
These pieces showed that over and over again, the passive voice was used to talk about the actions of the defendant, and the active voice to talk about the actions of the plaintiff. It further separates the act from the actor, and begins to do the process of absolving the alleged rapist of guilt. Likewise, the active voice places more responsibility and agency on the plaintiff, one of the many victim-blaming tactics that make rape trials so problematic.
“the penis was inserted”
“plaintiff was held down by…”
“was drugged by”
“plaintiff drank three alcoholic beverages”
“plaintiff kissed the defendant”
So thank you for calling this out. It is SO SO important. It is deliberate.
**If you have a JSTOR, the article is Representing Rape by Susan Erlich.
I am so sad that this happened to you and angry as FUCK that some people (I won’t call them friends, LW, because when any person hears what happened To you and didn’t take off zie’s ugly “rape culture says this must be HER fault” glasses isn’t worthy of the title of friend.) blamed you and made you doubt your feelings about your assault at the hand of someone you believed you could trust. How can people in a friend group hear what happened TO you and say (to you) not to make a big deal because it will cause ripples in the friend group? Do they not realize that those words to the LW are a giant drowning tidal wave that are making massive waves in the friend group because LW and her safety should be a vital part of that friend group? Who cares that the LW can’t keep her head above water with that advice as long as everyone else doesn’t have to take off their ugly glasses so they aren’t UNCOMFORTABLE. Fuck. That. Noise.
I had a very similar thing happen to me and just by the luck of the straw, I wasn’t raped. I was with a group of “friends” who divided the women in the group into separate places within the weekend and each one of the men ( which does not mean all men do this, but this was the break down in my situation and the Letter Writer’s) in the group tried to ignore words, body language and the overwhelming scent of fear from the women. It was an unfamiliar place ( the men lived there but not the 4 women), the men and their friends physically blocked us from leaving and it was in one of the worst blizzards to hit New England. My best friend was not as lucky as me that weekend.
The friend you trusted made you incapable of leaving in very calculated measures. Like the Captain said- you did whatever you could to keep yourself as safe as possible. That’s all that matters because you aren’t to blame for any of it! There are trained law enforcement officers to negotiate with dangerous people with hostages. That is based of the theory that it is often much better to try to de-escalate a situation to preserve safety than storm in immediately and risk that the violence will escalate and potentially harm everyone involved. Think about that, LW and all others that have mitigated a dangerous situation by having tea in the morning, by not saying a direct thing to the dangerous person, by not storming out, calling the police, etc etc etc. Whoever has survived these type of assaults, rapes, abuse or terrifying evenings and got safely through to the other side by NOT doing all the things that we will be blamed for after the fact, successfully negotiated our own hostage situations. We are untrained at this. We are both the negotiators and the hostages. If this is a valued skill and used by law enforcement agencies across the board-how can anyone not see that immensely valuable tool used by you, LW (and all of the survivor communities) as a proactive approach that was highly successful? This is what you were able to do, LW, and don’t blame yourself for any “should/shouldn’t I have done x, y,z” in your own head or coming out of the mouth from ANYONE.
“We are both the negotiators and the hostages.”
Nail on the head. That is just so eloquently put. I’d like to use that one in future when discussing these situations, if you’re okay with that, Tempy. 🙂
strivingally (and any others) use it, share it, shout it!
WOW your last paragraph, Tempy.
“We are untrained at this. We are both the negotiators and the hostages.”
I think it’s time for a MASSIVE reframing of my assault. Thank you. Thank you so much!
Thank you for writing this!
Oh, LW, I am so, so sorry that you went through that! It’s terrifying when a ‘friend’ attacks you and that was an attack. You were attacked. It’s being mugged instead of having your house cleaned out by robbers but it’s still being attacked. I don’t know, maybe that could help when talking to people? Not all attacks are the same, but they’re still attacks. I’m sorry I’m not more helpful, I’m just sitting here wishing that you hadn’t gone through that and that I could help.
I don’t know whether this would be useful to say out loud, or to whom, but if someone asks what you expected, what you expected was that your friend would act like a friend, not attempt to rape you and then expect you and everyone else to excuse him because all men are rape-robots who can’t be trusted with women. As someone upthread said, it might be worth saying something like “Should I assume you’re just waiting for the chance to rape me? Then why was it obvious that he was?” or “if it’s that obvious that he was just waiting for a chance to get me drunk and attack me, why didn’t you warn me?”
The reason they didn’t warn you is probably that it wasn’t obvious he would do that: not obvious to them or to you. It would be reasonable to ask someone why, if they didn’t know he was like that, they’re blaming you for not knowing either. Not “Hey, Acquaintance, you are a horrible victim-blaming rape advocate” but “That’s unfair, you’re expecting me to be telepathic even though nobody is, and if there anybody did know and could have warned me, they didn’t.”
Your replies here are wonderful & so useful because they encapsulate so much in a few short, easily deployed sentences. Thank you!
“Well, what did you expect (going alone to his home and having some drinks)?”
“You mean you *knew* he was going to try to assault me and you didn’t warn me?!”
And, of course “Expect!person” gets all butthurt because “how could I have known that?!” “My point exactly.”
Well said, Vicki
“Should I assume you’re just waiting for the chance to rape me? Then why was it obvious that he was?” or “if it’s that obvious that he was just waiting for a chance to get me drunk and attack me, why didn’t you warn me?”
Beautiful. Force the speaker to say ‘not all men’ and then whatwhatwhat but I said not all men about Slimey McStalker!
I’m so sorry you went – are going – through this. I love the Captain’s response. Really love it.
Sometimes, the thing that makes you feel worse in dealing with the aftermath is the reactions of people you thought were your friends.
It might help to see if you can find a mutual friend who is totally on your side and as horrified by this as we all are. Then, IF your other friends/that dude try to gaslight you or minimise your experience or victim blame you, that person may be able to help keep you grounded in the reality that this is NOT your fault, dude was in the wrong and for this not to have happened, HE should have not tried to coerce you.
Years ago, I was in a house share with a male friend. One of his friends, staying the night at ours after a party, repeatedly came into my (unlockable) bedroom after I’d said no so many times that I went to sleep on the living room floor with friends I could actually trust. The guy followed me and I’ll spare you the details but he assaulted me. The friends I thought I could trust “didn’t want to get involved” because they didn’t see it happen (!). The guy I lived with…well, I asked him repeatedly not to invite that man into my home again; he just kept on inviting him.
Let’s get real here, dear LW. Anyone who says they don’t want to get involved is basically saying that they don’t want to run the risk of pushing that guy away, in case you’re lying or something because hey, it’s your word against his. These people aren’t your friends. They’re people who would believe that you’d do something that awful so they don’t have to do the emotional labour of “getting involved.”
I wish I’d realised this before so I could have said it to my “friends.”
I hope so much that you don’t lose yours over this. You categorically do not deserve it.
I’m sorry you had to deal with this.
I also don’t get the rationale of these people. What exactly is the positive aspect of being alienated from your whole friend group because they’d rather stay friends with the abuser? In other words, there is no good *reason* for the victim to accuse someone for no fucking reason because the whole process is just unpleasant. But if these “friends” would accept that notion they’d actually have to draw a line at “the guy I like to hang out with assaults people”. And they feel it’s not worth it. Which means they are really despicable people. Then they try to justify their reasoning with victim blaming but all it boils down to is “My comfort and routine is more important than your safety”.
I had a similar situation happen to me. I chose never to talk about it with anyone, and I became coldly formal with that dude overnight. I would watch out for other women in my group though. I’d tell them that he was not on the up and up.
I wasn’t in a group where I would get a lot of support, but I knew what he did was wrong, and that I made him do exactly jack.
He lost a friend, and a lot of trust from a lot of women. I lost a friend I never had in the first place.
Just want to add my voice to the chorus of people saying that this was not OK, not something you should have expected, and not at all your fault in any way. Your friend is very much a creep and the groping and grabbing does in fact “count” as assault behavior.
Also wanted to add that I know for a fact that many of the men in my friend group would react in a similarly horrified fashion (“What a jerk/creep!” “What is he on about? There’s no way anything about that was OK!” etc.) because they have reacted that way to many similar stories. This is not a case of men in general having some sort of inherent flaw in their makeup that compels them to try to manipulate others into sex. That is not a thing. This is one creepy individual making a series of choices, and the people who should have your back failing spectacularly at being good friends.
Since so many of these ideas are so deeply culturally rooted (for whatever stupid reason), my advice would be to allow your friends one opportunity to self-correct from their knee-jerk response and act like decent human beings instead – and even then, only if you want to. But they shouldn’t need more than one “I don’t really care what he was thinking or you would have done differently, because it already happened and was really fucking terrifying” type response to get them to flip back around to your side, though.
And note that anybody who makes excuses for him rather than sympathizing with you in the interest of “not taking sides” is taking a side, and it isn’t yours.
I’m really sorry that you not only have to cope with one friend betraying your friendship entirely, but with the possibility of many friends doing that same (albeit in less dramatic ways). That really, really sucks. Just know that there are people out there willing and able to have your back.
“Secondly, I hate not sticking up for myself, I keep thinking of things I should have said.”
You did stick up for yourself.
“I told him, quite loudly, to stop and that it was inappropriate.”
“He lay down on the bed next to me and when I got up”
“After repeatedly telling him to get out, he wouldn’t so I left the room.”
“At one point I was trying to figure out if I could drive to a safe place (couldn’t, had drunk way too much).”
“His dog is quite big and gets excited with new people but only obeys his commands and when I asked him repeatedly to call the dog away”
“I stayed the shortest time possible and left to go home as soon as I was able.”
“I didn’t mention anything about the night before.”
It sounds to me like you stuck up for yourself just fine.
Yep. Sometimes sticking up for yourself means “do what you think is necessary to get out in one piece.”
In this case “sticking up for herself” meant telling the guy, repeatedly, in word and deed, that she did not like what he was doing and he should stop. He did not listen to her, because he never had any intention of listening to her say no once they were alone.
I love this! I volunteer for a self-defense class, and one of the things that we teach is that you get yourself out however you can. Now of course a certain amount of the getting out that we teach involves physical moves to fight someone off, since that’s the part that can be harder to figure out on your own. On the other hand, if you use the techniques wrong? Do a different physical attack? Let him think you’re going along with it and then run away for a bathroom break and climb out the window? Spend all night hiding under the bed so you can sneak out later? Secretly call 911? Start picking your nose so he’ll be disgusted and stop? Hit him with a stick? Whatever works to get you out of there alive and in as close to one piece as possible = winning. Because we know that each individual situation calls for an individual reaction, and whatever you can do to keep yourself safe and alive (including things like not getting in a car to drive away from a dangerous situation because you’ve made the decision that dying in a car accident/killing someone else with your drunken driving is worse than what might happen if you stay) is what you need to do. We also know that while we’re trying to stack the odds in your favor, sometimes it won’t work. You can do everything “right” and he will still overpower you and that’s not your fault, that’s his decision and a lousy outcome. But all for making it through in whatever way works.
All of this 100%. I want to add, though–if you’re on the fence about whether to stay friends with this guy, or have ended up making concessions to what you perceive as the ambiguity of your situation…that can lead to shame later. I’m not saying it should, but it will if you look back on this and think “Why did I not know exactly what to do exactly when I had to? Why did I question and wait and talk myself out of being a Strong Capable Female?” All of this is part of the double bind we experience as people who (a) are supposed to be the moral guardians of everyone and (b) are never taught that it’s ok to actually stand up to people and are derided and dismissed when we do. So it’s normal to feel conflicted, and it’s normal to feel shame, and it’s too damn bad, and I hope it goes away. But there’s something to be said for getting rid of this guy as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, and remembering to be gentle with yourself later if you make some kind of “wrong” decision now. It’s all a work in progress.
Wow, what happened to you is really, really awful. And what is likely going to happen because of this may be pretty awful too, and I’m so sorry that we live in a world where the victims of rape and sexual assault are the ones who have to explain themselves, to defend themselves when asked, “How could you have let this happen.” or “Why didn’t you do things differently.”
But if people start saying, (And I really hope they don’t, but…) “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.” or “Why didn’t you do something differently!”, I hope you can remember to look back at this letter and remember that it was real, and that what he did was terrible and wrong, and that it wasn’t just you overreacting, and that IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Because going through something like this, and then going through the subsequent questioning and blaming and trying-to-minimize-this-because-change-is-hard-and-my-friends-would-never-do-something-like-this-so-be-quiet-now can really make you doubt your memory, can twist your thoughts.
This is not your fault. The decisions you made were the best ones you could make with the situation you had at the time.
And, to the “it wasn’t that bad” … aside from the fact that what he _did_ was that bad, and any single instance of it was, there’s the simple fact that you trusted him to be your friend, and he not only betrayed it, he betrayed it so far that he didn’t even meet the basic standard of being a decent person to you.
And he put you through a night of believing, quite reasonably, that you were likely to be raped. That, just by itself, is bad enough.
We then went to a few bars and he kept buying me drinks, even though I said I was way too wrecked already.
Just in case no-one’s mentioned this yet — this is really clear planning. This is him deliberately trying to get you drunk, against your wishes, and not mildly, “tipsy” drunk but somewhere past “wrecked”.
Which also indicates quite clear awareness that sober you would not want to have sex with him, and the hope that drunk you could be “persuaded” or coerced.
He deliberately got you very drunk before trying to have sex with you. And the morning after, he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong and deliberately used his dog to scare and distress you.
Others might think it was a such a small thing that happened (as opposed to rape or sexual assault, which I’m not negating in any way, please don’t think that), but it was a huge thing for me
This guy sexually assaulted you. I know that’s sometimes hard to internalize. I know that I really hated having to add “have been sexually assaulted” to my personal list of tags. But the dude went out of his way to get you drunk, went out of his way to isolate you from any support, and then groped your breast. Doesn’t matter that he backed off when you called him out for being an ass; he assaulted you. And that’s a big thing.
The interesting thing is that the “he groped your breast without permission” ought be be clear-cut.
A woman of my acquaintance was once in a bus at a bus terminal late at night, waiting a couple of minutes for the bus driver to come back from his break. A man got on the bus, sat down beside her, and groped her breast, without her consent.
That seems like pretty clear-cut sexual assault.
So, what’s different in the LW’s case? The guy was someone she knew. They had previously been out drinking together. She was somewhat drunk. They were in a taxi, not a bus. The driver was present, not absent, and the vehicle was moving.
Those seem like completely immaterial differences to me. Oh, except for the one where he was significantly responsible for her being drunk, that seems like a material difference, and not in his favor. So why wouldn’t this be clear-cut sexual assault?
(Also, I’d note that with two people in a typical taxi, the seat is wide enough that the two people generally aren’t sitting down “next to” each other; I have some pretty strong suspicions about who positioned themselves such that they were close enough that the groping was easy, so I’m not counting that as a difference.)
My rape didn’t involve a penis in my vagina and sometimes I feel really afraid I’m making a big deal over nothing, claiming something I have no right to. But the people who have consistently supported me? Rape survivors who know that real rape rarely looks like the rape on true crime shows. They’re the ones who would be actually hurt by people diminishing the seriousness of rape, and the vast majority of them have embraced me and my violation with open arms.
My rape also didn’t involve a penis in my vagina.
And it was still rape.
And so was yours.
You survived, and so did I, and I’m glad we both did.
Yes. Mine happened at age 16 and it wasn’t until I was telling somebody a few months ago (at age 29) about it that she said, “So, he raped you.” “Oh, no, I mean, there was never penetration or anything. Just x.” “So…he raped you.” Talk about a lightbulb moment.
Jedi hugs to you and honoria and anybody else who has been there.
this totally stood out to me too.
it also made me wonder if she was more wrecked than usual for a reason – LW do you have any reason to think he put something in your drink?
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, but even without adding drink spiking to the list of offences, this guy is way over the line with his behaviour. And even if the LW willingly chose to get wrecked (as opposed to coercion (which happened) or spiking (which who knows)), what happened would still not be her fault. (I know you’re not saying it was, but I just wanted to reinforce this in a drink spiking vs just getting drunk context.)
I wonder why people call it “spiking” a drink rather than “poisoning”.
I thinking “poisoning” has a heavy connotation of attempting to sicken or kill someone, rather than incapacitate them.
I always thought that it was like spiking a tree–driving a metal spike into it so that someone trying to cut it down would have the chainsaw explode in their face–but it turns out that spiking as in “lacing a drink with liquor” (which seems like the same kind of thing–adding a secret affecting unexpected substance to someone’s drink) dates from 1889. Now I will try and look it up.
I go out of my way to call it poisoning. Getting people to ingest harmful substances? Poisoning. Coercing or lying to people so they’ll take in much more alcohol or other drugs than they meant to or thought they were doing? Poisoning.
I’ve encountered people (not friends, occasionally bar-staff) who’ve got others doubles when they asked for singles or even alcoholic drinks when they asked for non-alcoholic. Whatever the intention or motivation behind this, giving people drinks with more alcohol in than they’ve consented to is most definitely poisoning and I will call it that to the face of people who do it.
“Spiking” and “poisoning” can be synonymous. You can spike someone’s beer with hemlock. /semantics, agree with the point, imagining self using this very reasoning in words next time someone gives me any psychotropic substance I didn’t ask for
totally agree with you. and definitely not insinuating either scenario has “more” fault assigned to it – just another SUPER CREEP behaviour possibility that jumped out at me while reading this letter.
either way this guy is BAD FUCKING NEWS. i’m sorry, LW, that he disguised himself as your friend and abused your trust in addition to all the other horrible things he did that weekend.
Since I don’t see a whole lot on this thread about your friends, if I may,
Several years ago I had A Very Ugly experience. My friends didn’t have my back. So I got rid of them. It was horrible and uncomfortable BUT! This is what happened next–
When I started making new friends and news topics and the like came up that were relevant to my Very Ugly Experience, I would talk with them about what had happened. Even now meeting new people, it’s okay to speak about as a fact. And when you do speak about it you learn who is worthwhile to keep around. And it’s okay to lose people who don’t support you and find better ones.
I think this comment thread shows you’re not alone. It may look like that when you meet new people because we don’t all of us announce our baggage upon arrival in new relationships. But it is perfectly acceptable to matter of factly tell new friends that you had some shit going on. People can surprise you. And I do advocate aggressively finding those new relationships. You’ll see that there’s such a huge variety of people you *don’t need to convince* to listen to your story in good faith.
One of my favorite people is someone with whom, the first time we have dinner and got to know each other, we shared our major traumas, including some sexual violence, and commiserated with each other. It was healing for both of us.
I don’t share mine super outwardly, but I don’t hide it, either. It’s been amazing to realize how many people have been through traumas, and sometimes the resulting social fallout, of their own. Those people are often the ones I can trust the most, and don’t have to explain myself too. There’s a lot of value in that.
And when you do speak about it you learn who is worthwhile to keep around. And it’s okay to lose people who don’t support you and find better ones.
Thanks for that. Some of us are still trying to internalize that one–“keep mouth shut, keep respect of friends and family” vs “be That Girl with all her Drama” are not the only choices. Nor are they the best ones.
To creepy guy:
Look at what you’ve done. You’ve fucked up a perfectly good friendship. Look at it, it’s got anxiety.
*choked bitter laugh* Meme use and black humour for the win.
That guy is a scunner, a total scunner, and I’m so glad you were lucky enough to get out of that situation without anything worse being inflicted on you than what was. Absolutely you did nothing wrong. Absolutely he sexually assaulted you – repeatedly! He attempted to drug you with alcohol, he touched you without your permission, he touched your boob without your permission, he attempted to subject you to false imprisonment, he made you live in fear for your safety all night, and then the following day, he menaced you with his dog! I mean, people have gone to prison for less. And rightly so. If you want to cut the scunner dead and never speak to him again, I would say that is perfectly justified and better than he deserves. If your mutual friends don’t support you, they aren’t worth knowing. I’m sorry you were subjected to this and send my best wishes for peace and happiness in the future.
veering off-thread to wave at a fellow tamora-peirce fan. Hi!
LW I am so sorry that this happened to you. You did the right things because you got out safely and you did what you had to do to be ok.
It took me a long time after a similar incident with a friend to get to where I am now which is now I can be stone cold about calling out the bullshit your friends are pulling. They are dehumanizing him by saying he is some animal who can’t control himself. Or else they believe all men will rape if given the opportunity. That is some serious bullshit. And I have been successful in calling that out. By saying “wait so it is my fault that I expected a friend to be a friend and not try to assault me?” “wait, so you think all men want to rape their female friends?” “wait do you mean that it is ok to try to physically punish a friend for refusing to have sex with you by threatening them with a large dog?” By success I mean that some people do realize they have internalized a lot of bad things and come around to protect victims. And the others who double down on what they are saying? Well now I know they are not safe people and I consider that really good information.
I am sorry you need that information. I am sorry your friend was never your friend. But I think you are an amazing person to handle this how you did. And I hope that you find peace with the situation.
Dear LW: This was not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong. Your soon-to-be-ex-friend was in the wrong, and just reading your story scared the hell out of me. Glad you got out of there OK.
“One, we have very close mutual friends so will defo see each other again. Secondly, I hate not sticking up for myself, I keep thinking of things I should have said. Thirdly, I’m not sure if I’m overreacting. Is it worth losing his friendship over?”
I got so upset reading this part of your letter, LW.
YOU DID STICK UP FOR YOURSELF! You said “No, I don’t want to date you, let’s keep it platonic”. Then months later, you said “No, I don’t want to drink more”, and “No, stop touching my boob”, and “No, get out of the room”. The next day you said “Please get that dog off me”. You pulled away from him and tried to negotiate a way out for yourself that was safe.
You could not have communicated more clearly that you did not want to do the things that Creepy Asshole was trying to do with (or to) you. He refused to acknowledge your extremely clear messages, both verbal and non-verbal. You did everything you could have done, despite his repeated efforts to be a fucking dickhead.
Are you “overreacting”? – HELL NO! He made you feel scared and betrayed and grossed out – you are REACTING to a totally jacked up situation that he decided to put you through. His behaviour was so out of order, it’s considered a sexual offense by most police forces.
“Is it worth losing his friendship over?” – That friendship is long gone. It was gone the moment he decided to act like a predatory, threatening, unsafe person towards you. He does not deserve your friendship, and to be honest, it doesn’t sound like you want to be friends with this guy any more, so drop him like hot garbage.
I know the Captain has written scripts before for dealing with mutual “friends” who side with skeevy dudes, and I would hope that your friends would all be wonderful and supportive, but it is going to be painful to discover just how far you can trust the people in your friend group. I wish you courage, and health and fortitude. Let the Captain’s voice be your reality check against anyone who doubts you.
You deserve to be around people who treat you well and make you feel safe and comfortable.
Look after yourself, LW, and remember that your emotional response to this and whatever comes next, is 100% valid. If someone or something is making you feel bad, then that person/thing is what needs to change, not your feelings about that person/thing.
Wow, I am so furious on your behalf right now, LW. It may take you a few weeks to realise & accept and let yourself believe, but you got attacked. I notice you describe it as “a small thing”, or at leastas compared to sexual assault or rape, but what he did was sexual assault. And the only reason you don’t 100% know if it WAS meant to be rape is because he got too scared by your resisting to continue to do whatever it was he wanted.
I have been in a similar situation within the past two years, which was the first time I felt I had come scarily close to getting raped, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so I will say that when it happened to me, I kept describing it as “a small thing, I know it wasn’t even sexual assault or rape–“. (I didn’t describe it as sexual assault AT FIRST anyway.) And the reason I did this was because I was pre-emptively trying to fend off the words from others that “but that isn’t/doesn’t sound like sexual assault?” and having to explain to them why it IS. I did this to counsellors I saw afterwards. I did this to the very few friends I told afterwards. The number of people I actually had to put this disclaimer forth to was very small because the number I told was very small; the reason it felt like I had to keep using it over and over was because in my head I kept imagining scenarios where I told people and imagining myself having to put that disclaimer&argument forth. Over and over. I must have used that disclaimer in my head hundreds of times.
So if those sound like your reasons for using that phrase, especially since you have told people, you don’t need to put it in. What he did was sexual assault. And if they can’t handle accepting that, that’s their problem. This sounds all very well in text, I know, because in real life you have to manage friendships and cut losses (or so it feels), and you will likely be wanting to explain to them because if you can make them believe, you can keep them as friends who don’t blame you for what someone else did to you and that will be great! Right?
But if you have friends who are blaming you for it now, they are still a ways from deprogramming their own selves from what they have been told growing up, and you don’t have the obligation to try and make them see. It is not your obligation. It sucks, they suck, and there will be people out there who HAVE decided to educate themselves and become better people and who you will not have to explain this to (if you choose to tell them) who are much better people to be friends with. The friends who are putting the blame on you are A-grade Assholes.
Also wow, is he putting the onus of doing explanation on you to try and make the situation “okay” or try and make things not awkward. Fuck him. Put the onus back. I’m afraid I’m not as good as the Captain, and don’t have any scripts or strategies here, but I guess maybe – if you want to* – leave it to HIM to explain shit. To explain why he decided to sexually assault someone. You’ve stated what he did. Someone in the comments pointed out some very good scripts for turning back the question on your rape apologist friends and I’ll reply to them in a tick because I think their scripts are Very Good and full of Incredible Common Sense Why Don’t All Rape Apologist People Notice This.
Sorry for the incredibly long & self-righteous post. This is also my first post here so I’m relying on the Captain to filter this out if it’s inappropriate. (CA, thank you for giving me and other people scripts & such good advice on so many things, and for letting people know “NO, YOU DIDN’T IMAGINE IT, THAT PERSON/BEHAVIOUR IS NOT OKAY.” You are such a wonderful wonderful person.)
LW, you have been fucking brave. Give yourself some sort of mental pat on the back or something because that shit is scary and you got through it and you are so so brave.
*Do not do not do not do the emotional labour here if you don’t want to. Like, if you’re afraid it might “start drama” and that thought is making you anxious, then don’t. You’re dealing with something that upset you badly here, so give yourself leeway and self-love and don’t feel obligated to “fix/educate” anything/anyone. If it helps, things like these can break apart social circles AND THEN you can see who group into decent human beings and who group into people who are apologists and awful people. You are left with maybe a few people, not the full circle, but then you don’t want the full circle anyway because some of those people are Gross. It’s like a bowling ball hit the social circle and left you with only the good bits. (Don’t ask why a bowling ball; first thing that came into my head.)
Oh, OP. Big Jedi hugs for you if you want them. Or shoulder pats, or virtual tea…whatever works for you.
This is not your fault. You did nothing wrong.
This. Is. Not. Your. Fault. You. Did. Nothing. Wrong.
One last time:
THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.
Everything this asshole did is all on him. I hope that your friends will step up and do the right thing – which would be, in case you have the tiniest doubt, to support you and to kick this asshole to the curb. I hope that you have a good Team You on your side.
I usually don’t comment when I’m not sure I have something new to say, but I don’t think you can hear this too much: You did nothing wrong. Nothing. It was reasonable to trust him, and he broke almost every rule in the book.
Also: He did not, in fact stop when you said No. You first said No when you told him you didn’t see him that way. He responded by planning a sexual assault on you, and carrying it out. Are you supposed to be humbly grateful that the assault didn’t extend to holding you down and raping you? Is anyone seriously suggesting he gets credit for that? I don’t think so!
You were brave, and protected yourself, and got away. Now you have to mourn and heal.
Not talking about it in the morning was wise, not weak. You were alone and far from help. He had intentionally gotten you liquored up – this was obviously planned. Maybe if you’d spoken up, he would have apologized and talked it out. But probably, IME with creepy, angry dudes, he would have yelled and pounded on things and tried to make you feel afraid so that you wouldn’t talk to others, or maybe he would have hurt you. Someone who lures you to their house and gets you drunk and then just barely stops before sexually assaulting you is in no wise a good or safe person, and you were very, very wise not to assume that you could reach him by ordinary emotional or moral suasion.
The most important thing in that setting is to be safe. Your instinct not to go head to head with him about it was very sound, and you should absolutely not beat yourself up about it.
Oh, I should say, this is absolutely something that you can name as “sexual assault”. I was trying to say that he stopped after grabbing and pawing you but before forcing a sexual act, not that what happened to you wasn’t sexual assault.
That’s the wonderful thing about bodies- there are times when they simply take over and instinct tells us what to do. Some times that’s not enough and we still get hurt by sources we can’t control, but we’ve tried. Safety is what your body unconsciously goes for, whether by freezing up so you won’t incite more rage (or, like Jurassic Parks tells us, so the T-Rex can’t see us) or by making the unconscious choice to stay silent while you still felt you were in danger. Your body and mind realized you were smaller and were not likely to be the winner in a physical fight, so the smartest thing you could do was trying to ensure that a fight wouldn’t take place. Making the choice to GTFO as soon as you saw an opening was a WONDERFUL one. You acted in a way that would keep you safe. It worked this time. You made the right choices and stood up for yourself so well that I’m clapping and cheering at your bravery and quick wits. Most self-defense class teachers I know would give you a big thumbs up. I hope your Team You helps you realize the great things you did- there is NOTHING wrong with assuming others will treat us with respect… Golden Rule and all that. I am so sorry that this situation happened and that people are dickish enough to make you doubt yourself. I think you are great.
Speaking of self-defense instructors.
Dear LW, my dad is a black-belt, has studied karate for decades, and he taught all of his children that the best defense is knowing how to run the four minute mile. LW, you were isolated! You had no where to run to! Disengaging and deescalating with Slimey McCreepster is the best thing you could have done, after the fact.
*indulges in fantasy* Putting the BatSingal in your purse would have been the best thing you could have done before the fact, but I’m afraid I don’t know where to get a working model.
LW, I’m so very sorry that happened to you. It makes me so angry that he did that to you.
I think you’d actually be perfectly within reason to call what he did sexual assault. (You don’t have to use this term if you don’t want to, of course, but if you feel like you want to but don’t have permission, well, here’s permission.) He put his hands on you in a sexual way without your consent and continued to do so multiple times after you made it clear through body language and words that he needed to stop. That sounds like sexual assault to me.
And LW, I know you’re experiencing self-doubt right now. If it helps, whenever I doubt myself in regards to my first stalker, who tried to touch my breast during a ballroom dance class, I remind myself that the fear I felt was real. The fear I felt whenever I saw him afterward, the way I became completely unable to speak, was real. I didn’t make that up. And that matters. I’ve found that that helps keep me grounded.
And again, LW, you did nothing wrong. You actually did a lot of the “steps” that victims/survivors are “”””supposed”””” to do. If people ask you why you went over to his place, you can always reply, “well after I told him I didn’t want to date him, I assumed he was a decent person who would respect that because he seemed to respect that when I told him” in the most scathing tone possible. Pointing out to people that trusting a friend not to grope you/assault you/possibly attempt to rape you/whatever is not unreasonable, so you can always pull out that explanation if you want to.
At the end of the day, LW, you were hurt through no fault of your own. And when you start to feel the “well, at least it wasn’t as bad as X Y or Z things,” I’ve found it helpful to remind myself that the damage doesn’t have to be physical bruises to count. You lost, on at least some level, a sense of safety. Whether you now find you don’t feel safe around men, or just when you drink alcohol, or just around that friend specifically, you lost some sense of safety in your life. His actions caused that to happen. That damage matters. The way you’re feeling right now, it isn’t nothing. Allow yourself to feel what you feel without feeling like you have to belittle your own experiences, y’know what I mean? I found that was harmful to myself if I let myself think like that for very long.
I hope your friends rally with you on this, should you choose to tell them. Good luck.
In addition, LW, if any of your acquaintances have said the word “cock-tease” to you in any measure of seriousness, dump their ass. That entire concept is an artifact of rape culture, and it needs to die.
If that language is coming from someone else, that person is not your friend. If it is coming from you (that line made me just ache for you), stop. You deserve to be treated kindly, by your friends *and by your own self*.
LW, you did nothing wrong. This ‘friend’ of yours DELIBERATELY planned this to get you alone, inebriated and defenseless. And when you made it clear that you were not interested and got yourself out, he used his dog to frighten you for resisting.
I’ve got nothing. I’m in one of those blank furies where I want to repeatedly Korra-punch him and your other ‘friends’ who would rather ‘keep the peace’ and shelter the predator in their midst than protect you. And also give you so many hugs and cups of tea.
You did nothing wrong. You did absolutely nothing wrong.
I don’t know that he planned it deliberately per se — to me it sounds about as likely that it came up as a sequence of individual things that sounded good to him at the time because they seemed to lead towards more chance of sex, and I wouldn’t even put money on him consciously thinking about why they sounded good at the time.
This is not exculpatory. I just don’t want anyone who reads this and thinks, “Well, when I did that I sure wasn’t planning anything, it just kind of happened,” to think that that is in any way an excuse or makes it better. If things like that “just happen”, and they very easily can if you’re a rapey jerk who’s not self-aware, then you better figure out how to make those things not happen, post-haste.
Or, I guess, more to the point, I don’t want anyone who reads this to think, “I’m not actually planning ahead to rape anyone, so it’s fine. I don’t need to worry about being non-jerky or paying attention to consent or that sort of thing.”
I will just note that that’s “this is a sequence of things that sounds good because they’ll lead to a chance of sex with someone I know doesn’t want to have sex with me“.
I am agreeing that assault does not necessarily require conscious deliberate plans, but I disagree that this guy was just douchebroing along towards something he had a reason to think would be an option. He was told no.
Yes! He had his answer when she walked in the door. Any action on his part calculated towards undermining her no is rapey, even if it only occurred to him a minute before the action.
I think, as with most crimes, spontaneity doesn’t make it *better* — it’s the baseline of awful and blameworthy from where you start — but premeditation does make it *worse*, and I absolutely think this was premeditated, planned and conscious. He just wouldn’t have used the word “rape” when he decided that getting her as drunk as he could would make her pliable enough for him to get what he wanted. I really don’t think it’s co-incidence that he was pushing more drinks on an already “wrecked”, yet protesting friend prior to assaulting her. It doesn’t sound as though buying friends too many unwanted drinks is just something he does on the regular. He had a goal, and he was taking the LW’s ability to consent away to achieve it.
This person is horrible, awful, and terrible. I’m so sorry that someone who had been your friend decided that it was all right to treat you like this.
I hope you have some real friends who understand that you did nothing wrong, and can help you work through this and the blatant victim blaming you are expericing now.
I’m so angry for you.
LW, that guy acted like an a**hole. Anyone who doesn’t think otherwise, or wants to blame you for HIS behavior, is lying or delusional. Not that it matters anyway, because you know right from wrong. You don’t need someone to tell you he’s a jerk. You had every right to tell him no. You have every right to push him away. It’s your body. Your body, your rules. Everyone else can kick rocks. He knew ahead of time how you felt because you made it very clear. I would cut all ties with him. He is not a true friend. He couldn’t even respect your boundaries.
I wouldn’t doubt that he has done this to other women. What will creep!
**What a creep! Not What will creep.
LW: I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I want to ad to the chorus of people saying that you did stick up for yourself. He was intending to rape you, and you prevented that from happening. You used your words like a boss and got up and left the room when that didn’t work. You kept yourself safe in a terrifying situation and then got yourself out of there as soon as you could. His failure to respect your words and boundaries doesn’t mean that you didn’t make them properly clear – it means that he’s an abusive douche who was intending to ignore them whatever you did. I hope you find the support you need as you deal with this.
You didn’t do anything wrong. I know I didn’t when my similar situation happened. I did feel very empowered by trying to recognize and acknowledge in myself that uh oh feeling and honour it. And act on it. And finally realizing that I did honour and act on it in the moment as best as I could with the tools I had at the time.
Just like you did when you did your best to manage a very difficult situation when you were physically impaired, alone and being betrayed by someone you had trusted. I’m going to offer another thought on “management debriefing” of the situation…do it. Do it from a perspective that is fair to you, and pretend to be your own best friend through this, and be as kind to you as you would be to him or her.
Check the web for agencies that offer free phone or internet support so you can access it on your own terms when you can’t be as good to yourself as you deserve. All the LW. You deserve it.
LW, the guy acted like an a**hole. He is not a true friend. I would cut all ties with him. He couldn’t even respect your boundaries. You made it perfectly clear to him that you were not interested in him romantically. He better be glad you didn’t slap the taste out of his mouth after that stunt he pulled by groping you. Men like this make me so mad. And Kudos to you for wanting to confront him about his behavior. I just want to give you a high 5 and say, “You go, Girl!” It’s your body. Your body, your rules.
Hey LW, I want to emphasize, because I haven’t read it yet halfway through the thread: It is absolutely normal if you feel upset for weeks, months, even years about this. This is not a minor incident. Do not feel like getting psychological help or calling a helpline would be an over-reaction. Do not feel like being anxious or having any other symptom that may show up was “silly” or “out of proportion”.
Please feel 100% free to get all the help you need. Take care of yourself excessively, talk to people who actually support you if things should get rough. There is no such thing as a wrong reaction, a faulty timeline of healing or an absurd trigger. You were in danger of bodily and psychological harm and it is absolutely normal to have a major reaction to that that takes it time to taper off. (But it will taper off, do not worry.)
I wish you all the best and the support you deserve.
Yes. All of this. Please get help. It doesn’t get better on its own (unless you’re just really lucky, I assume).
Also, don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed if the response you get (from, like everyone you know) is a repeat of what you heard from those friends. It can take a while to even figure out how to find a community that doesn’t think like that if it’s been your water-to-an-oblivious-wet-fish all your life. I’m so glad you had CA to contact as soon as possible after it happened. Jedi hugs if you want them.
…[some friends say] my behaviour (staying overnight, drinking, trusting a male human being) was terribly naive on my part. Of course it’s my fault.
Dude. I want to offer you all the high fives in the world and I am shocked that anyone could have the chutzpah to victim-blame at you: You, brave, ferocious soul who used every tool in the toolbox (clear words, drunk self-assessment, physical resistance and movement, safe escape planning, de-escalation, psychology, etc etc etc) to successfully protect yourself from a charming, sleazy, isolating, persistently violent attacker. Wow and wow. I’m a survivor and I know that there are times when our strength and diverse ways of fighting are not enough; and sometimes the shock and fear is too much and fight is not what ee have in us. But as I honor my own forms of resistance, even those that didn’t work, even those that protected my soul if not my body, I want you to know how thrilled and fist-pumpingly stoked I am that you held your ground and won. Sing it from the walls, you are a fucking champion.
…[some friends say] my behaviour (staying overnight, drinking, trusting a male human being) was terribly naive on my part. Of course it’s my fault.
Dude. I want to offer you all the high fives in the world and I am shocked that anyone could have the chutzpah to victim-blame at you: You, brave, ferocious soul who used every tool in the toolbox (clear words, drunk self-assessment, physical resistance and movement, safe escape planning, de-escalation, psychology, etc etc etc) to successfully protect yourself from a charming, sleazy, isolating, persistently violent attacker. Wow and wow. I’m a survivor and I know that there are times when our strength and diverse ways of fighting are not enough; and sometimes the shock and fear is too much and fight is not what ee have in us. But as I honor my own forms of resistance, even those that didn’t work, even those that protected my soul if not my body, I want you to know how thrilled and fist-pumpingly stoked I am that you held your ground and won. Sing it from the walls, you are a fucking champion.
Oh, LW. You did an amazing job with defending yourself and using your words. I am in awe and so, so, so grateful you are here and OK.
“Other friends say I was stupid…” Mmm! Change the descriptor to “Rape Apologists” and you can see, the rest of your sentence falls right into place.
Now I’ve gone back into my screen caps file, for the CA post of November 10, 2014, where my hero, Marna Nightingale says of (Darth Vader hangers-on) Stormtroopers,
“I conclude that they enjoy the work, think the uniforms suit them, and are otherwise actively available for HenchPerson gigs.”
I know the Cap warned against “should’ statements but this one seems like it’s ok. The above responses? The understanding, the kindness, the compassion, the razor-sharp dissection of the this asshat’s methods, the rage on your behalf? That is how your friends *should* react.
Sometimes when engaging people about rape apologies, it helps to ask “So you think what they did is okay?” Because people are so caught up in defensively trying to find ways that particularly behavior could be not so bad (perhaps thinking of times they have done it, or whatever) that they minimize the part of them that is also screaming “THIS IS NOT OKAY.” Also, when listening to stories about assault, I have noticed that people who are going to have a defensive reaction get stuck on a detail (usually one early in the story) like alcohol, and completely miss the rest of the opportunities that the asshole had to do the right thing, and aren’t really listening to the impact, because they are too busy composing their rebuttal in their minds based on that specific detail.
Kinda like how I’ve been spending a lot of energy lately on defending Hillary Clinton from misogynistic attacks that I’ve needed to self-consciously put some time and energy towards reminding myself of all the critiques I have of her politics. We can only hold the complexity we make room for. Not that I think there is complexity in this case, but your mutual friends will need to start there, probably, to reconcile the charming friend they know with an abusive rapey asshole.
Redirecting them from rationalizing how it COULD have been reasonable and towards listing how and why it was not okay might help them realize that it was, in fact, really scary and fucked up.
Them: Well, he was drunk!
You: So you think what he did was okay?
Them: …NO, I mean, you said no, and you rejected him before and… *light slowly dawning*
YMMV, but that is what I hope for you.
You did nothing wrong, your “friend” is a creep, and I wish you strength and a good Team You as you handle the fall out. You shouldn’t have to – that steaming pile of shitty emotional labor in a just world would fall in a big stinking heap right on that asshole’s head.
i love this.
>”So you think what he did was OK?”
I *love* that response.
The Rape Apologist response might be something like, “I’m not saying it’s okay, but that it’s par for the course.”
To which I’d follow up with, “So you’re saying that’s what I should expect from a friend??”
Filing this away, hoping I never need to pull it out.
THIS. And yeah, you might get the reaction of ‘No, I mean, it’s not OKAY, but you still should have [blah blah blah insert victim-blaming here]’. That kind of thing is still good information to have about a person, because it means that they’re not going to be worth the effort to steer toward self-awareness.
I’m so sorry this was done to you, LW. You didn’t do anything wrong and there’s no reason you should have known that you were in danger. This guy specifically created a situation so that he could assault you. From the moment he invited you out he was planning this, and that plan had slowly been congealing in his head for at least nine months. You didn’t lead him on or fail to recognize the signs of impending horror. The signs were specifically and deliberately hidden from you.
I don’t want to be too speculative, and I don’t want to bring something up that isn’t helpful. This is, after all, an advice site, but a few of the Captain’s and other’s comments make me think that what he did to you, and the situation you were in, might be exactly why he lives in the sticks. The thing with the dog WAS cold and calculating. You clearly felt super awkward, but it doesn’t appear like he did. He made no overtures to your comfort or to try to ensure that you wouldn’t say anything. He reestablished that you were in his space, in his house and at the mercy of his dog. He didn’t try to make you feel more comfortable because he probably knows that that doesn’t go his way because he has done this before. He’s done it often enough that he’s comfortable getting traumatized women out of his house without a fuss.
Abusers setup and follow patterns of abuse. This wasn’t spontaneous. It was planned. The thing with the dog, and the nine month waiting period, make me think that maybe his pattern of abuse is a central part of his lifestyle. He might live in the sticks specifically because it creates opportunities to invite women to spend the night and creates a barrier to their swift exit. People buy houses places that make their patterns of behavior easy and convenient when they can. I feel like this pattern of behavior is high enough up in his priorities that it at least influenced his house buying decision.
Again, this is all a bit speculative, and likely wouldn’t be convincing to mutual friends who refuse to take this seriously, but perhaps add it to the pile of evidence that he is in fact a scary dude and that all of your negative feelings about him are totally justified. Add it to the pile of evidence that your friends who aren’t taking your discomfort and horror seriously are actively endangering you. Add it to the pile of evidence that he purposefully deceived you for months and that you could not have seen any of this coming because he does this often enough that he has gotten proficient at it.
All of the support for the difficulties and disruptions what he did will cause you, and all the anger in the world that so little of it is likely to reflect back on him.
I’m so so sorry this happened to you, LW. I was in a similar situation where a friend who had asked me out (I said no very clearly) got in my bed and tried to initiate sex after repeated no-‘s from me on multiple occasions. It was so hard for me to get out of that headspace of “but he doesn’t know any better—he’s my friend!” And it was even harder for me to talk to our mutual friends about it and found that very few people believed me. I am one of those women that the Captain talks about who drifted away from the friend group after hanging out with the man a lot. I know where you’ve been. I just wanted to let you know you are not alone and that this is a horrific thing—assault—that happened to you.
Ugh. LW, you could not have predicted this would happen, and if you had decided (for whatever reason) that you didn’t want to be alone with him in his house, he (and the friends who are now backing him) would have attempted to shame you for that too. “What do you think is going to happen? He’s a great guy? You shouldn’t be so suspicious!”
The dog thing is disturbing. (It’s all disturbing, though). Using a dog to intimidate someone, to make them feel scared in your home.
If I were his friend, I’d hear him out, and then most likely say to him, “Wow man, she’s such a hero, she saved your life!” Assuming his response would be clueless, I’d say “because she could have called the cops while she was at your house”. She could have said “Officer, I’m too drunk to drive, I have no other way out of here, and this guy isn’t listening to me when I tell him over I don’t want to have sex with him. I am afraid I am about to be raped.” Dude you are so lucky. Don’t do the stupid again, ‘k? Promise me?
I can’t let go of the fact that he took you “to a few bars”. The only reason I can see for him to not stay at one bar is so the bartender doesn’t get clued into what’s going on – that way he was able to keep pouring drinks into you without a third party noticing how many he was getting you, and no bartender after the first saw you at full sobriety and saw that you were clearly treating him like a non-date friend.
…All by way of saying that not only did he really plan it out, but he realized that it would be obvious to any other person watching that he was manipulating you into a worse situation, and did everything possible to remove hope of detection or help. So if he wants to say that he didn’t do anything wrong, even HE doesn’t actually believe that or he wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to hide it from even strangers.
Maybe that was an intentional manipulation and maybe it wasn’t – lots of people go bar hopping on a night out and I don’t think we have enough info from the letter to know if there was something more sinister to that aspect of the evening. But even if the bar hopping was completely innocent, what the guy did was still wrong. We don’t have to see pure evil written into every single one of his actions for what he did (including coercing her to drink more) to be absolutely unacceptable. I’m not disagreeing with you Carlie, and I think we’re all on the same side here, I’m just cautious about painting every aspect of this guys behaviour as calculatedly evil because it plays into the rhetoric of rapists as monstrous boogeymen, rather than just being guys who don’t accept no but who might otherwise behave in perfectly normal and acceptable ways.
Oh shit, I didn’t even think of that. Yikes.
Given the rest of his behavior, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that were indeed his motivation for changing bars during the night. He could definitely have realized that a bartender might hesitate to keep pouring drinks for the same person who was repeatedly trying to turn them down.
But just in case people are now filing “multiple bars in one night” as a major red flag, I’d just like to point out that there are other reasons for going to more than one bar. I have several different regular places that I like to go, where I’m friends with the bartenders, and I don’t actually go out drinking that often so when I do, I want to put in an appearance at a few different friends’ places. Also, sometimes one gets too loud or too crowded, or the opposite – it’s just not really interesting that night – or I decide I’m done singing at the karaoke bar and now want to go to the place where the owner often brings his pets, so I can chill with a cocktail and pet a cat. If a friend is visiting from out of town, I’m probably even more likely to go to several places so I can show off my haunts to them.
That’s also probably why I would not suspect a thing if a guy were taking me to several bars. I wouldn’t be worried that he was planning to prey on me; I’d be thinking he had several different favorite bars he wanted to share with me. And I don’t want to change my stance on this, just as I don’t want to start assuming that every guy is going to rape me.
That being said, I totally agree with you about his sketchy motivations for the night. It doesn’t sound like any of these were his reasons. Everything he did was awful, the LW is absolutely justified in her actions and reactions, and I am so saddened to hear about not only the initial situation but also about the “friends” dismissing her feeling and perceptions afterwards. Jedi hugs if you want them, LW, and here’s yet another internet stranger telling you that you did nothing wrong and that he DEFINITELY did.
I recognise way too much of this letter.
He was my best friend.
I stayed a week.
He did not take “no” for an answer.
I’m so sorry. I hope you’re are healing.
Thanks! I am mostly ok actually 🙂
LW, the part where you talked about the next morning, where you behaved normally to avoid an argument and left as early as you could, really resonated with me. I, too, spent the night with a friend who turned rapey as soon as bedtime rolled around. In the morning I let him hug me even though I didn’t like it because I didn’t want to start a quarrel, and during the night I even snuggled into him because I was sad about what had happened and wanted comfort and he was the only human there. But I also rejected his offers of breakfast and a toothbrush because I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. Just because I didn’t react like a ‘proper victim’ the morning after, it doesn’t make it my fault, or yours either. The Captain is dead right that you were smart to get yourself out of there safely by whatever means necessary. I am sending you all good wishes and I’m so sorry this friend turned on you.
The whole concept of “a proper victim” is just another layer of rape culture.
I wish you a lifetime of Jedi hugs, from non rapey people.
You absolutely acted like a proper victim. He hurt you, you can propperly be called his victim*, you acted like you did, ergo you acted like a proper victim.
* but you can also be called an awesome human being
* but you can also be called still alive, i’m so glad
* but you can also be called a good friend
LW, I am so so sorry this happened to you. And I’m sorry your friends don’t believe what he did was a horrible form of abuse.
You are 100% right to feel icky and upset. This man tried to rape you. You were in a terrifying situation and did nothing to deserve what happened to you.
The fact that he gave up before “raping” you doesn’t mean he’s not a rapist. And your friends should never take the rapist’s side. Never.
I’m sending so many good thoughts your way as you deal with this horrible-ness. Remember: You are amazing and we all believe in you!
***ALL the Jedi hugs!!!!!!!***
Whenever people doubt you, please feel free to remind them that this guy’s idea of a great night was inviting you over (under false pretenses and knowing exactly what he was planning), getting you drunk, forcing himself on you multiple times, and having you be so drunk/scared that you weren’t able to stop him.
He is a horrible horrible person and NO ONE should be justifying what he did.
LW, you did nothing wrong.
In fact, you did so much right! You *did* speak up for yourself, repeatedly. And you used the best tactics you knew to get out of a dangerous situation safely.
I’m so sorry, so so sorry that someone you trusted betrayed you like this. You expected your friend to be a friend, and instead he assaulted you. We here are furious on your behalf, and in our ire, saying what we think of a man who could betray and hurt someone like this. I just want to add, it’s okay to mourn the friendship you thought you had. Perhaps multiple friendships you thought you had, as those willing to defend a betrayer and attacker are not your friends anymore. And I am so sorry. I am sending you positive vibes, Jedi hugs, virtual warm mugs of tea, and thoughts of my grandma’s caramel rolls. The Awkward Army is in your corner.
You did nothing wrong. You are not over-reacting. You have done what you needed to do to extricate yourself from a horrifying situation. You are brave and wise.
Just to add to so many of the wonderful points:
IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.
He planned this, he waited 9 months to do this.
He deliberately got you drunk.
He deliberately “let” the dog scare you.
IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG.
Also, you “stood up for yourself” like a grade-a fucking BADASS!
For a well-meaning but clueless friend, let’s swap out a few words, to make it into a story about one dude persistently trying to grab another dude’s cash.
Like this: Dave has a buddy named Rob, and he reports: “about 9 months ago, while we were having a text conversation, Rob asked me to lend him $1000. I made it expressly clear that I cared for him as a friend but don’t intend to lend him $1000. He said that was cool, he respected that and changed the subject. I thought that was that. I went to stay at his house. We went to a few bars and he kept buying me drinks. In the taxi home, both drunk, he reached for my wallet to take my cash. I told him, quite loudly, to stop and that it was inappropriate. He listened and moved away. We got to his place and he followed me upstairs to the spare room. He sat down and took my wallet, and when I took the wallet back, he kept trying to pull the wallet away again and take out the money. After repeatedly telling him to get out, he wouldn’t so I left the room. I did panic a bit as I’m quite a small guy and Rob’s not.”
Dave’s friends are unlikely to blame him. They will say, “Rob’s a creep. Why’d he do that?”
(This is just a tool for helping a dense friend to Get A Clue; I don’t mean to make an equivalence between cash and bodily integrity… or make any declarations about dude/dude friendships.)
OK, any analogy that equates women with objects to be taken/stolen is not helpful. Women are people with agency, not a prize or a possession. (You may understand this fully, but predators or people who defend predators generally struggle with the concept. Let’s not add fuel to the fire.)
If you are looking for a non-sex analogy that doesn’t objectify the victim, use the tea & consent analogy:
A Reader with Thoughts’ analogy doesn’t analogize women with objects to be taken/stolen—it analogizes women to Dave, a dude with cash, just like the tea example analogizes women with a person who is offered tea.
I find that in the particular analogy that A Reader With Thoughts used, zie is actually spot on. LW is being compared to Dave, not to the money. The money is analagous to the decision of whether or not to have sex.
“No, you can’t have my money that I own” is actually a decent comparison to “No, you can’t have access to a body part that I own.”
I know it’s rare to see one of those actually being employed respectfully and correctly, but in this case I think it works.
Right, it’s just that we usually accept robbery as a crime and not a ~~misunderstanding~~. That’s why the analogy is necessary for some people to get it in the first place.
Ah, you beat me to it. I was going to use the Tea Consent video. I’m disgusted that so many of this LW’s “friends” are using the “What do you expect, boys will be boys” argument.
Isn’t it sad money is more valued than a HUMAN being? That’s the takeaway I got from this.
I could not agree more , It’s him not you , not your fault. Also I especially like the advice of bluntly challenging anyone who tries to make an excuse for him, “So you think what he did was OK?” , “So that is what you would do if a woman was a guest in your home?” BTW internally “Thank for the heads up if their answer is, yes.”
I want to give you a bit of information , I sincerely hope you will never need. When people make you feel bad its and make you question whether you “deserved to be raped” , tell you not to be DRAMATIC or are just general toxic its totally utterly OK to tell them to “Go fuck yourself”and do the fuck you dance right out of their lives. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds but it’s both very satisfying and life with fewer but better friends , friends who won’t argue with you and tell you how wrong you were when you say ” I was scared , I’m hurt , I don’t know what to do.” **At the very least , don’t use these people as your “I need a gut check , am I being crazy?” advice go to friends**
There are just not enough guys commenting here, so I had to jump in. Everything about what this jerk did to you is completely and utterly unacceptable, and don’t ever doubt yourself about it: this was sexual assault. Period. He assaulted you. And I’m so sorry he did, and I’m so sorry it’s making you feel so terrible.
I can’t be sure, but I strongly suspect this was planned. I think he’s been planning this kind of thing for a long time. I think he didn’t really drop it when he asked you out and you said no. Just a hunch, but I’ve seen this kind of behavior before. In myself, that is, and it disgusts me.
Just to be clear: in the brief story that follows, no one gets assaulted, but that doesn’t make my actions acceptable. I regret them to this day. There was a girl I had a crush on in college, and once (one time), she flirted with me. I befriended her, we IMed a lot, and we hung out and were generally probably what she considered good platonic friends. And I liked being her friend, but I wanted more and I carried that torch silently for a ridiculously long time because I was too shy to use my words.
One day, I finally (over a year into this) sprung my feelings for her in an email and she said she didn’t feel the same, and I just melted away. Walked away from our friendship. I feel so dirty for how this must have made her feel.
Just to be clear, I _never_ touched her, not once, never tried to get her to do anything. But I still probably creeped her right out, and I regret it. How I acted was not okay.
I know how that is, to build up this fantasy that maybe she’ll eventually feel the same way, and I think this guy was doing the same thing. It’s gross, and guys, we need to stop it. We need to use our words and be decent people. And for _’s sake we can’t touch people without their consent, and the way to get that consent is to _ask_, not to “try it and see if it works”.
Anyway, LW, I’m so sorry. You should not ever have had to go through this kind of experience, and no, you weren’t naive for expecting that your friend wasn’t secretly a rapist. If “boys will be boys”, then those boys are predators, and I’m going to stand by that even if I’m talking about a majority if males. It’s not okay.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think what you did was comparable. Yes, you made it clear way too late that you were only in the friendship for pants/heart related reasons, and she was no doubt disappointed and cheesed off to learn that. But you didn’t try to manipulate her and you didn’t abuse her. You learned from that one experience and you’ll probably use your words better and earlier next time. I don’t think you need to feel disgusted or dirty – you felt the feels which may have led up to the terrible things this guy did, and for a time you let them make you into a bad friend, but you didn’t do anything like those terrible things.
I’d be thrilled if someone reacted to my “not interested” in this way, because I do precisely the same thing when someone tries to take things “up” a level: leave the friendship. I used to feel racked with guilt over it, but now I recognize it as completely ok. If one person is in love and the other isn’t, “melting away” is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. The only regrettable part–for me, and it sounds like for you, too–was in failing to make that asymmetry really clear right away before things had a chance to become awkward. “I’m not into you” sounds like a rude thing to say, but sometimes it’s a whole lot better than politely ignoring the unrequited feels.
I give you permission. Not because you require it, but because sometimes we are unable to give ourselves permission to do what needs to be done.
I give you full permission to *not* ‘educate’ your friends, or help them recognise their conditioning. You don’t have to convince anybody of anything.
I give you full permission to walk away from ‘friends’ who do not support you 100%, who victim blame, who perpetuate rape culture.
I give you full permission to skip reasons and goodbyes and just African Violet the fuck out of those friendships.
I give you full permission to break down in tears, scream in anger and frustration, to break things (be safe when you do, though). I give you permission to eat icecream till you feel sick, live on chocolate for a week, eat nothing but lettuce and peas, drink expensive coffee – whatever comforts you.
I give you fill permission to put on your oxygen mask first. Help yourself first. Educate yourself first. Comfort yourself first.
Losing friends sucks and lonliness is crappy. But having crappy friends is also crappy and you owe them nothing when they blame you. You have friends here who care for and support you. If we could be there IRL I’m sure we would line up around the block.
I give you permission to find new friends.
LW, I’m sorry that your friend did this awful and damaging thing to you, and to the trust you had in him, and to the friendship you had between you. I’m sorry that your other friends are behaving in awful and damaging ways, blaming you and minimizing your experiences, ways that you know will damage you if you let them keep at it.
The worst thing about being raped for me was losing friendships over it. I don’t make friends easily so losing them is always really painful, because I’m so worried this is how I’ll end up alone. Cutting off people because they’ve treated me badly is incredibly hard for me; I wanted to find any way I could to salvage the friendship. So if you’re like me and wincing at people telling you to drop your friends like hotcakes, if you also have sentiments like, “That would be cutting off your nose to spite your face”–
It’s not. It’s cutting diseased growth off a plant so healthy growth can flourish. This is an event that’s incredibly painful, but it’s put the issue of your wellness and unwellness, your friends’ support or lack thereof, at the forefront of things right now. It’s an opportunity to focus on and nurture things that make you well, friendships with people who are loyal. Even though the process can be painful, you have the chance for your self and relationships to grow from this.
I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at my computer so much while reading a letter here before. LW, what this guy did was Not Okay. You’re right to be freaked out, your friends saying “what did you expect?” are jerks. I just- hugs if you want them. I’m sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry you have people being jerks in your life. None of this is okay or your fault.
I had a much more minor case of creepy-rapey dudes. I had to start taking a few people aside who tended to be the Organizers in our group, or who I trusted and say “Hey, creepy dude Isn’t Safe,” and the rest of the script varied depending on the person to “so don’t invite me if he’s coming/let me know so I don’t go alone/here is how you personally can protect other women from him” but the thing was, I talked to about four people. After that it was a non-issue and I had a buffer if I *did* end up in the same place as them.
If you can and have it in you, recruit some people on Team You if you’re worried about social back lash who know the whole story and how it affected you to deflect some of the grossness on your behalf. People who will NOPE at him if he tries to enlist them on his quest of “LW is being meaaaaannnn”
Ugh Ugh Ugh. So much ugh. Ugh doesn’t begin to describe it.
There’s a certain argument that gets used a lot, and countering begins to sound like “mansplaining”, but really isn’t. The “what do you expect from men?” thing is not only victim blame-y and just factually incorrect, but it’s actually a contributing factor to the overall problem.
I was at school overseas, and a friend I met over there and I went on a long, multi-destination trip during Christmas break. We stayed in hostels the whole time, private rooms if possible. On paper, it seems very dangerous for my friend. She’s a young (~22), relatively petite woman, while I am a large 30 yo male. We had only known each other for a few months when we planned this, but neither wanted to travel alone.
And you know what happened? Nothing! We shared private rooms, even the same bed after one hostel booking mishap. And of course I didn’t try anything, because what the fuck, of course I didn’t. Now, I don’t want a cookie or a gold star for not raping my friend. The point is that my behavior should be the DEFAULT. It SHOULD be what women expect. My friend shouldn’t need to be worried that I’m going to do something gross because I’m a man, and that’s how we roll. And that sort of attitude is a stealth “boys will be boys” that lets terrible people off the hook for being terrible people.
LW, you’re awesome, and your friends suck. I hope you find people that will have your back
One thing I would like to add to what the Captain said is that this guy knows how to be a trustworthy friend, he how to respect a boundary. You can tell that about him by the way that he was actually really good about that until this one night. That’s how you know that this wasn’t him being confused or something, and you didn’t do something to provoke his despicable behaviour: he chose to ignore your stated boundaries, he chose to threaten you and coerce and manipulate you. He heard you loud and clear when you said no, just like the first time you’d said no to him — this time he just decided not to listen. He was in complete control of his actions.
Look at it this way: put yourself in his place. Imagine that the situation is reversed, that he comes to visit you and stay over and you go out for a drink together. Imagine yourself offering him more to drink. Imagine him saying no, he didn’t want any more, he was already shitfaced. What is your reaction?
Imagine yourself getting friendly/physical with him in the cab. Imagine him telling you to knock it off. What do you do?
Imagine yourself following him to the room he’s sleeping in, at your place, on your turf. He’s drunk and out of it. You tuck him in and lie down with him for a minute; he says he feels uncomfortable, seems tense, tries to get up and leave the room. How do you respond?
When you put yourself in his place, I’m going to go ahead and guess that you’re like “Well obviously I would respect his boundaries! Duh!”
Because it really is that easy to respect someone’s stated boundaries. If that’s what you choose to do, it’s the simplest thing in the world. His behaviour was something he chose. And it is in no way your fault.
I always think that in a genuine attempt to make a pass at someone, you start with being cuddly and go for a kiss, telegraphing what you mean to do.
Like, legit. Who starts their romantic relationship or first sexy times with a boob grope? That shit isn’t saying “I like you,” or “I want to have a mutually fulfilling sexual encounter with you,”. It means “Are you drunk enough to let me do what I want to you?”
This isn’t what you do to a wonderful human that you appreciate and want to have a romantic relationship with, this is what you do when you see someone as a sack of meat you want to fuck.
This guy isn’t a friend. What he did was horrific. I hope you have supportive friends and a safe group away from him. I hope you feel better soon. I’m so sorry, LW. You deserve better, you shouldn’t have to feel like this, and shouldn’t have been sexually assaulted and harassed by a friend. And all of this is on him. Not you. The idea that all men do this is straight up wrong. Sexual predators do this.
Who starts their romantic relationship or first sexy times with a boob grope? That shit isn’t saying “I like you,” or “I want to have a mutually fulfilling sexual encounter with you,”. It means “Are you drunk enough to let me do what I want to you?”
A THOUSAND TIMES THIS. A. THOUSAND. TIMES.
I’m not saying anything terribly different to anybody else, but your rush to say “as opposed to rape or sexual assault, which I’m not negating in any way, please don’t think that” made me so sad. From how you describe it this man’s line literally was “will not violently rape someone”.
He got you drunk. He got you alone. He assaulted you in a taxi where you may feel too uncomfortable to tell him off in front of another person. He escalated, escalated, and only stopped when it was clear you would make a fuss.
That is not a small thing. I am so sorry he’s such a disgusting human, and that some people you know are more comfortable excusing his actions than supporting you. But that is not your fault, they are so wrong and he is so wrong and I am so impressed by how you dealt with the whole situation.
I wish you all the luck with processing your feelings here – you don’t have to feel a certain way, or have anything be “bad enough” to be traumatised. You feel violated and that is completely normal! And with finding your team you. All the Jedi hugs if you would like them.
I don’t have anything original to add, but it does bear repeating. You did nothing wrong. I’ve been in plenty of situations where male friends could have ignored my lack of interest. Nothing bad happened. That’s because they weren’t assholes.
Oh, God, LW I am so sorry this happened to you.
And this is making me think of more than one instance wherr I near-dodged real creepy situations and then second-guessed the shit of myself. I’ve been thinking about itsince yesterday and now I can hardly believe how often I’d mistrusted my instincts when I saw creepy behaviour.
Your gut isn’t wrong. It is one of the best things we have.
Thank you Captain as always sound advice,helps survivors like me not feel guilty! I have a difficult situation coming up with my abusive ex husband who was stalking me and getting himself involved with my family and friends.(After getting a Woman Aid solicitor involved, he has dialled it back, but i know he is lurking in the background! I am not scared any more, but because of Him i have had to give up contact with my daughter,who listens to his lies,and won’t be loyal to me and her Dad by having him round her house, i asked she choose but of course she had already)…,a male friend wants to have a meeting at his house, where the Ex can turn up at any time, and i am yet again going to have to refuse to go,of course he really is not a friend if he wont see why i cant be around the Ex, despite having it explained! It is such a shame that these Jerks can take such a lot from us years even years later,it is sad about my daughter, i feel ashamed of her,even a policewoman was shocked at her behaviour! i have a good life now, and it is wonderful to be free!,Thanks Captain you are helping so many of us x
I’m sorry that your daughter and “friend” won’t respect your desire to not be around your abusive, stalking ex. Familial relationships can be complicated and fraught, but even if your daughter wants to have her *own* relationship with her dad, she should understand why you can’t.
I recommend reading “When Dad Hits Mom”, by Lundy Bancroft. Children sadly do choose to ally themselves with abusers, for a lot of sad reasons. Your ex is most likely having a heavy hand in shaping your daughter’s perception right now, as a way to hurt you and make himself feel good. The book has some good advice for this situation. I hope someday you can rebuild a relationship with her.
Oh LW, not all, but some of this, is really similar to a situation I was in a few years back. The way he seemed really nice until the assault started (although he was someone I’d just met, not a valued friend) and I completely froze up when it did because I couldn’t believe he could turn so suddenly. The fact that it was groping over the clothes, not actual rape, so in an extremely fucked-up way I felt grateful that it wasn’t worse, and even now I do feel that I can’t compare my experience to that of victims who’ve been through much more traumatic circumstances. The way I switched back to making normal conversation with him afterwards because I still couldn’t believe what he’d just done, but at the same time I didn’t want to make things worse until I could get away. The reactions of friends who saw the whole thing and who I was counting on to help me when I was so shaken up afterwards, which instead were ‘Well, what can you expect?’ and ‘Why didn’t you tell him to stop?’ I’m so, so sorry this happened to you, and like everyone else here, I want to point out that it’s not your fault. You did nothing wrong in trusting someone you thought was a friend. He did something incredibly wrong in the way he chose to abuse that trust.
Also, I would definitely classify actions like groping your boob and trying to pull you into bed as sexual assault and attempted rape. I don’t know what the laws and the attitudes of law enforcement are where you live, but he could well have committed a legal as well as a moral crime. Obviously the decision of whether to report is incredibly difficult and the legal system is set up to make things as hard as possible for victims, so I wouldn’t blame you at all for not wanting to report this, but it might be worth seeing if there’s a rape and sexual assault centre or helpline in your area (many organisations with only the word ‘rape’ in their name will support victims of things other than rape as well.) You can tell a sympathetic person in confidence about what happened, they’ll believe you and won’t blame you, and they can signpost you to counselling, if that’s something you decide you want, talk through whether or not to report without pushing you in one direction or another, again if that’s something you want, and support you through the process if you do decide to report. There’s no wrong or right thing to do in this situation, just whatever you decide is best, but I want to put that out there as an option. I reported the sexual assault to the police at the end of last year. It’s way too late for there to be a realistic chance of conviction, but I told the whole story one-on-one to a sympathetic female officer, she believed me and she filed a formal report which she’s now passed on to Interpol (to add another layer of complexity, the assault happened in another country.) Nothing will come of it, but just knowing it’s on record somewhere as having happened feels like a victory after all the gaslighting I went through.
Please be very gentle with yourself over the next few weeks. Block your ‘friend’ on social media, have a hot bath, try to minimise work/ education and other commitments that are stressful and difficult, watch some comforting TV, spend time with the nicest people in your life who are most firmly on Team You, get some vigorous exercise if you want to work some anger out. Or whatever sounds most comforting and helpful to you, those are just suggestions. I’ll be thinking of you, and I really hope you’re able to find the peace you deserve. Again, his actions are appalling and not your fault. You did absolutely nothing wrong.
I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’ve spent the night even in the same bed as male friends without issue and it’s certainly not it’s not naive or wrong to think you could spend the night at a friend’s house without him assaulting you.
Oh but the dog thing. That has happened to me more than once and it’s terrifying in and of itself.
I agree that LW did nothing wrong. On the contrary, I thought she handled herself very well in a dangerous situation. As one of the commenters point out, LW was effectively a hostage in that situation and had to placate her captor until she could get away. What’s more, there was no guarrantee that there was anything she could do to prevent him from raping her (or worse) if he decided to. She had to simply hope that he would be more decent than he had shown himself to be.
She says she feels bad for “not sticking up for myself.” If I were in a situation like that, what would throw me far more would be the sense of helplessness: the realization that I’m in a situation where the other person can do what he wants and I can’t stop him. That I’m dependent for my safety on someone who doesn’t care about my safety. It’s the sort of thing that destroys whatever sense you might have that the world is a safe place.
Your friends say he stopped and then felt bad the morning after – I say he was planning to rape you and didn’t have the guts to go through with it (despite clearly lacking the conscience to tell him not to plan this in the first place). And then he was mad at himself the morning after and took it out on you, because that is what disgusting people do.
In addition to being better off without him in her life, she would also be better off without the “friends” who said “Well, what do you expect? You were stupid to go alone in the first place.” With “friends” like this, who needs enemies. What century are they living in, anyway?
The other interpretation is that he didn’t necessarily feel bad, but he knew here was no way he could continue and maintain any sense of plausible deniability after the fact. Id wager that he thought the LW was going to be drunker than she was.
“Others might think it was a such a small thing that happened…”
NO NO NO! It isn’t a small thing at all! You’re well rid of this guy. I agree with the posters who think that he’s been planning this for a very long time. I don’t know why some men think that getting a woman very drunk is a good way to “seduce” her, but I suspect it’s a man that doesn’t think it’s important that the woman actually enjoys the experience. Having sex with someone who’s unconscious or nearly unconscious isn’t a great deal different from simply getting a blow-up doll, in my opinion.
I would be very very happy if people who had sex with people who were unable to consent all had sex with blow-up dolls instead.
(I get that in terms of the rapist`s emotional involvement, there`s probably not much more, but I am kind of at the stage of not giving a tin shit about the rapist’s feelings and focusing on what they do to other people. It’s not like they’re really gonna be deeply shamed by the accusation “well you don’t care about the person you raped!” anyway. 😦 )
Oh my god this is so not your fault. He deliberately got you drunk and alone and groped and assaulted you. That’s horrifying.
Also: oh my god this IS his fault. “Having a drunk girl in your house” (even leaving aside the “getting a girl drunk” which is just SO CREEPY AND RAPEY) is not an opportunity that’s “too good to pass up”. It’s a time when you have a guest with impaired judgement and need to either take extra care of them or get them help if the impairment is too bad for you to handle.
WRT whether this is worth losing his friendship over: this guy knew he didn’t have your consent and tried to get you drunk and fuck you and then threaten and blame you when it didn’t work. You’re not his friend. You’re one of his targets.
I am so sorry this happened to you. All the hugs if you want them.
I have been there, LW, so many times I’ve lost count. So many male “friends” that I didn’t think required scare quotes. Including one who yelled at me (!!) for refusing his advances, and many that weren’t directly involved but were very much complicit. A few apologized, to their credit, but none remain in my life (graduating and/or moving to new cities/states/countries is such a convenient way to “forget” to stay in touch). The most frustrating thing for me is that I find it so much harder to trust men now. That new male friends don’t get the benefit of the doubt from me anymore. That I’m always just the slightest bit on edge, vigilant for anything they might do to cross the line. And the number of people who can’t (or won’t) understand that this kind of behavior is coercive and scary and wrong?? It’s exhausting.
You are very much not alone, LW, although that is probably more depressing than comforting. I wish you all the best, and all the non-scare-quote-friends that you desire and very much deserve. ❤
Oh my god this is so not your fault. He deliberately got you drunk and alone and groped and assaulted you. That’s horrifying.
Also: oh my god this IS his fault. “Having a drunk girl in your house” (even leaving aside the “getting a girl drunk for sex” which is just SO CREEPY AND RAPEY) is not an opportunity that’s “too good to pass up”. It’s a time when you have a guest with impaired judgement and need to either take extra care of them or get them help if the impairment is too bad for you to handle.
WRT whether this is worth losing his friendship over: this guy knew he didn’t have your consent and tried to get you drunk and fuck you and then threaten and blame you when it didn’t work. You’re not his friend. You’re one of his targets.
Seriously. I’ve had a lot of drunk people stay over at my house, including quite a few I found attractive, and I put them to bed and gave them some water because THAT’S HOW NORMAL PEOPLE BEHAVE. I didn’t have to ‘pass up an opportunity’, because the idea of assaulting my drunk friend was never even on my mind in the first place.
Also, one more thing that strikes me as I’m reading the comments and rereading your letter is that you’d been friends for 3 years. That’s a long time for someone to gain your trust and act like a friend. So while I agree with everyone else that not being his friend any more seems like a Good Idea, please be patient and gentle with yourself if you have conflicting emotions about this, or find yourself missing him, or wish things could be different, or…. One of the things that I’ve found to be very helpful is recognizing that emotions aren’t always clear and easy, and that it’s okay to have feelings both ways. That’s one of the things that’s so horrible about being assaulted by a friend/family member instead of a stranger; you not only have to work through the assault, but also the loss of a person/relationship that you genuinely cared about.
I’m about to read the rest of the comments. I want to leave this quickly before the will to write it down evaporates and I delete the whole thing before clicking “post.”
I left once, in a similar situation. I was in Hoboken NJ, and I didn’t really know my way around; I had relied on his knowledge of the public transit system to take a train and 2 buses from New York. I didn’t have a smart phone at the time. But I’ve been physically abused before and I know the warning signs. When we finished sex and I asked the guy why he hadn’t taken the time to make sure I had enjoyed myself too, he immediately got very angry and defensive. In less than a minute after I said that, he threatened to kick me out. I started gathering up my stuff to leave. I was terrified. It took me like 5 minutes, during which he went back and forth on whether he was going to force me to leave about 3x. As I left, he was shouting after me, “This is on you! Remember that! I was going to let you stay!”
I spent the next 6 hours trying to figure out how to get back to New York City and the Chinatown bus back to Philly. Dazed, in shock, clueless, navigating unknown streets in the middle of the night… In all honesty, it’s a toss up whether it was scarier to stay or to leave. I wished I had stayed the whole time. And I’ve often wondered whether, if I had to do it again, I would have just stayed. Would he *really* have hurt me? Was I maybe really just leaving out of pride? Could I trust my instincts based on that one argument?
I would never counsel someone just to leave. I almost stayed. I know I made the right decision because in the end, I wasn’t hurt. And neither were you. The right decision is the one where you leave the situation with your life and your bodily autonomy.
I wish your friends could get that. I can’t believe you’re taking flack about how you “should” have handled it. Eff that noise. Please think about finding a more supportive Team You. You’ve just been through something traumatic, and got yourself out safely, and are dealing with the aftermath. Please don’t let these wrongheaded people chip away at the sense of self that served you so well in that situation. Don’t let them flip the script on you.
I’m sure everyone else has said this, but please be very kind to yourself for a while. You deserve it.
Please, please don’t be mad at yourself for not, like, morphing into Black Widow and ninja-kicking his ass the second things got scary. That’s satisfying to watch in the movies, but I think it also helps create the weird, pernicious myth that if you’re not screaming and punching your attacker, you’re not truly resisting. Bullshit to that. You stood up for yourself LIKE A BOSS, and your instincts the next day were totally sound. You don’t owe it to anyone to confront him, and escalate a scary situation with a bad person in the middle of nowhere, just to fill out some kind of Perfect Victim Checklist.
What this dude did was bad, shitty, calculated, and above all, Not Your Fault. I’m sorry he did that and I’m sorry about your friends being so unsupportive. Of course you didn’t expect your (now-ex-)friend to assault you–if you did, you wouldn’t have been friends with him. It’s not your fault you didn’t have information which he actively concealed from you.
Every person I know who’s had this kind of experience (scary, violating, but not official-legally-defined rape) has done that minimizing thing, at least for a while. Hell, I’ve done it myself. “Yeah, this terrifying thing happened, but at least I wasn’t raped”. But rape survivors really will not judge you because your experience was marginally less awful than theirs. The people who ARE going to split hairs that way are trying to rationalize and explain away what happened to you, so they don’t have to feel uncomfortable on your behalf.
Jedi hugs if you want them. Here’s a link to RAAIN (the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) if you would like to speak to someone at their free counseling hotline: https://ohl.rainn.org/online/
LW, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Like so many other commenters here, I’ve had my own version(s) of this scenario too. I’d like to leave some thoughts that I think it can never hurt to hear one more time…
1. You went way, way, WAY above and beyond the point at which any reasonable person would have understood you weren’t interested and respected you and apologized for making you feel uncomfortable. Acceptable behavior on the part of people wanting sex means pursuing positive consent – anything less is inadequate. Continuing to badger once resistance has been met is disgusting.
2. Your feelings are 100% legitimate.
3. You do not owe anyone an explanation of consent, affirmative consent, rape culture, power differential, your decision making process, or any of the other concepts at play here. You may decide to do so, but you do not OWE it to them.
4. You do not owe time, energy, continued friendship etc. to anyone being a jerk about what happened and gaslighting you in the name of “fairness” or “social cohesion.” You are at liberty to reduce or eliminate their presence in your life to fit your comfort level. If they want social cohesion, they can maybe talk to the person doing the assaulting.
5. You ABSOLUTELY do not owe anything to the prize-winning snotmuffin who did this to you. You are entitled to cut him out of your life entirely. You are entitled to continue frequenting venues where he may show up, and you are entitled to ask for whatever considerations you need to feel safe and secure in those venues. He fucked up here, and good. It is now his responsibility to deal with the fallout, in whatever form that may come. You are going to get some fallout, too – which is unfair and crappy – but you absolutely do not owe it to him to base any of your actions (or inactions) on how it will affect him.
And one last thing – if you should weigh the facts and decide that you do still want this dude in your life, now or in the future, you’re entitled to that decision too. Such a decision doesn’t erase what he did or make it okay – but just as you aren’t obligated to behave or feel positively toward him, you likewise aren’t obligated to behave or feel negatively toward him. This may be a non-issue; maybe you feel one way and that’s that, but if your feelings or decisions change down the road (even if they change more than once), you are still entitled to them – and to act on them as you see fit. If you have some number of friends who are good at cheering for “team you” and putting your needs above whatever reaction they have to the situation, I would always recommend asking those friends to be a sounding board before taking action if your feelings do change – but in the end, you are beholden only to yourself, and you get through this and deal with it however you need to. I say all this only because I know uncertainty is another thing that people in this situation get flack for. It’s okay to be uncertain. It’s okay to change your mind about what you want to do. I think it’s more important to always know you can switch it up if things aren’t working for you, than to feel stuck with a decision that you feel differently about in retrospect.
Oh god LW, I’m so sorry your fake-friend tried to rape you. That must have been terrifying. Please don’t beat yourself up for not starting a screaming fight the next morning, you did what you needed to do to get out of there safely.
Absolutely nothing that happened that night was your fault. You had every right to expect the guy you thought was a friend to ACTUALLY BE YOUR FRIEND.
Doh, double post. Feel free to delete this one, mods.
Oh god LW, I’m so sorry your fake-friend tried to rape you. That must have been terrifying. Please don’t beat yourself up for not starting a screaming fight the next morning, you did what you needed to do to get out of there safely.
Absolutely nothing that happened that night was your fault. You had every right to expect the guy you thought was a friend to ACTUALLY BE YOUR FRIEND. How fucking terrible would the world be if it was normal to wonder if a friend was going to try to rape you when you visited?
Nothing you do is overreacting to someone you thought was a friend trying to rape you. Do what you need to do, if you need to vent or leave the room whenever someone says his name or stop talking to everyone who tries to excuse his attempted rape then that’s the right thing to do.
Now, I think this guy is absolute scum, and he did an objectively terrible thing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have every right to mourn the friend you thought you had. You can look back fondly on the good times and be sad they’ll probably never happen again (I have some serious doubts about fake-friend’s ability to understand how badly he hurt you and make it right) without that somehow meaning that what fake-friend did was okay or that you were somehow asking for it or deserved it. Same with any rape apologists you might need to drop as friends – just because they turned out to suck doesn’t mean you can’t miss them and be sad they’d rather defend an asshole than be real friends to you.
And I’m very sad to say fake-friend likely believes he didn’t really try to rape you because he didn’t use physical force. Anyone, including him, who says it wasn’t really attempted rape because he didn’t hit you or hold you down is full of shit. What the fuck else are we supposed to call trying to get someone too drunk to say no? Or laying down beside someone who already fucking told you they don’t want to have sex with you and then refusing to leave?
You did an awesome job of looking after yourself, LW. Seriously, give yourself a pat on the back for getting out of there safely.
“Please don’t beat yourself up for not starting a screaming fight the next morning, you did what you needed to do to get out of there safely.” Amen. I read a post somewhere recently- perhaps it was shared here? Of all the behavior that women naturally turn to keep themselves safe: “Walk with keys between there fingers, only in lit areas.” Those kind of things. On that list I would include “Don’t upset someone bigger than you who freaking intimidates you. Get yourself out of their space safely, even if it means faking being ok.” I so understand that.
Count as me one of the people who recognize way too much of the letter.
Re: “One, we have very close mutual friends so will defo see each other again.” If you haven’t told all your very close mutual friends, then have hope that not all mutual friends are created equal. After I told mutual friend A about [attacker] and getting much of the stupid responses you listed, I did not tell other mutual friends about the [attacker] for fear of getting subjected to more of the stupidity. It took me several months to get the courage to talk to mutual friend B about this event, and it turned out mutual friend B got it. Perfectly. Mutual friend B made the decision to defriend [attacker] immediately when I told her without my even asking. It made me regret not telling her earlier because it would have spared me several horrible awkward exposures to [attacker]. For the record, I stayed friends with mutual friend A for several months after telling her about [attacker] until I realized that her terrible response was a sign that she had boundary and listening problems and was a bad friend in general.
Re: “Secondly, I hate not sticking up for myself.” Even if there was a correct way to deal with your situation (there is not; also rape apologists will manage to come up with excuses for the dude no matter what), it doesn’t change the fact that you did not deserve the situation to happen to you. As a human being, you have a right to not be harmed. This right to not be harmed is not limited to people who are extremely intelligent, courageous, or physically strong.
Re: “Thirdly, I’m not sure if I’m overreacting. Is it worth losing his friendship over?” Yes. I assure you that among the billions of people on this planet, there are plenty of awesome people with your dude’s positive traits who come with the added bonus that they do not harm others. I say this as a shy person who totally thought that I was going to be alone forever after I lost [attacker] as a friend and thought that my mutual friends were all going to side with him.
A friend once said this to me, and it made feel a lot better. I’m including it in case it helps you: “This guy shouldn’t be wasted time or energy on, or stressing over. The only one who should be suffering is him. Slowly and painfully.”
Yeah, I’m yet another who ended up in “ambiguously not-assault but sure as fuck was not ok with it” zone. I had a professor who’d been a close “friend” (he and my favorite prof were long-term partners and they became my surrogate uncle and aunt during a rough stretch of undergrad). They broke up and he came after me. Brought wine to my dorm room, asked, “May I try something with you?” Me: “What?” Him: “Give you a backrub.” Me (not wanting to offend him by implying there was anything weird about this even though I don’t like backrubs): “Sure.” Him (gives backrub): “Now your feet.” Me (again, this is weird but if I say anything then it’s REALLY going to be weird and after all I trust this guy): Takes off boots and socks. Him: “You have nice feet. No calluses.” Kisses the top of my foot.
This is really, really, REALLY creepy, y’all. I was nineteen and this was my surrogate parent-figure. I had totally ignored all the red flags–him talking about being accused of sexual harassment before, dropping hints about my being “the most beautiful woman in the room,” reacting to my suggestion that he put up art in his windowless office by saying “I don’t think the administration would approve of my putting up female nudes,” and complaining about being suspected by his ex wife of MOLESTING THEIR UNDERAGE DAUGHTERS. Somehow, never having had adult friends before who weren’t friends of my parents, I just thought this was how grownups talk to each other and I’d better go along and not call them on it…or God forbid *ask* anyone else I knew if this was weird, because I didn’t want to get him in trouble.
I hate that this happens. I hate that it seems to happen all the time. I hate that, while it’s happening, we have such a hard time understanding why, or knowing what to do about it. I hate that, afterwards, we blame ourselves. Because obviously if we’d just had better boundaries or senses of appropriate behavior, we never would have gotten into these situations in the first place.
It wasn’t my fault. I try to tell myself that. And yet…I just didn’t know any better, and I feel like I should have. How could I have known? I’d been taught to be trusting. When I failed to be trusting, I got in trouble. And when I eventually, the next day or so after crying about it all night and not being able to unclench my shoulders, told his ex-partner…she said, “I don’t really think either one of you has done anything wrong. He just misses his daughters.”
Oh wow, Hannahbelle. I thought that was going to end with you telling his ex-partner and her blowing a gasket, not … that. What a poisonous pair.
Funnily enough, they were the ones who taught me the phrase “Denial: it’s not just a river in Egypt.”
LW: I haven’t read the other comments, but I wanted to say–I got tears in my eyes reading your letter. You are not to blame, in any way, shape, or form. I am so sorry you have been through this, that he treated you like this, and that your friends are treating you like this. You are a wonderful human being who has done nothing wrong. He acted abominably.
I am a survivor, multiple times. It is so hard to feel that anxiety, especially in a culture that blames us. It is not our fault. Never.
You did nothing wrong. None of this was your fault. You used your words like an adult. You stood up for yourself like a champ. You are amazing. I am so proud of you for doing that. And I am so proud of you for taking care of yourself.
LW, you should make a list. A written list. Make a bulleted list of ALL the creeptastic behaviors your so called friend did, and which the Captain echoed in clear language. You know why you need this list? You’re going to have friends, such good friends amirite, who tell you it was JUST. Just one little thing. Can’t you forgive him for one little thing?
You know what? I bet the LW actually -would- forgive just one thing, just a grope or just a one weird creepy behavior, because so many women have done the same.
Make the list and hold it whenever the Friends Brigade comes and preaches Don’t Make Drama. And if you have strength, whenever someone someone tries to tell you ‘but it was just…’ make them listen to the FULL LIST. Because even if they don’t listen to you, it might (maybe) make them stop telling you ‘it was just one thing.’
I feel so exhausted just thinking about the Friends Brigade. They can be as trust-draining as the original entitled jerk, and they LOVE YOU so they won’t give up.
re-reading this later –
LW, you don’t have to educate anyone about What Slimey McCreepster Did Was Wrong. But if no one is going to give you moral support, you need to give it to yourself, and a written list of Look How Many Time He Screwed Up is a good touch-stone when you or anyone else starts to wonder if it was Really That Bad ™.
The only things I am going to say LW, are re-iterating the captain’s words. You should do everything you can to keep YOU safe. YOU did NOTHING wrong. HE did. And I 1000% second what SylviaMcivers said above. Make the list. Keep it handy. Even if you have to store it in your phone as a memo (and if you do that, make sure to make a second one that says as big as possible, “I AM NOT TO BLAME, HE IS”) so you can pull it out when needed.
As someone who has been in similar positions to you, you are not to blame at all. To answer your questions: Were you stupid to see him alone? NO. He gave no indication that he was going to be douchey mcdoucherson. And is a drunk girl too good of an opportunity to pass? NO. I’ve had numerous drunk people of varying genders at my house and manage not to take advantage (though I did remove shoes and belt buckles/jewellery that might potentially cause them harm or uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and put them on the table next to the bed) AND slept in the same room as them. As well as I have managed to drink at friends houses and managed to not have that kind of stuff happen to me. Even with sleeping in the same bed as some of them.
FWIW, alcohol/drunk means to me: make sure person is in a safe spot (ie: not in the middle of the street passed out or in a public place passed out) and if they aren’t, take them to one at least until they sober up, take away anything that can hurt them or make them uncomfortable or break (ie: if they wear glasses, take them off their face and put on a table next to them, shoes off, any bulky belt buckles take off, dangly earrings or other jewellery that can potentially pierce their skin or hurt them in some way, loosen corsets if they’re wearing one so they can breathe easier, etc), and keep an eye on them especially if they’ve drunk a LOT and might potentially vomit and possibly choke on said vomit. I also have gatorade powder mix that I’ll put in a water bottle and then add water to and a crap ton of water bottles that I’ll fill some up and put on table next to them so that when they wake up they can help get rehydrated. I also have told all my friends that these are things that will happen if you get drunk around me (or call me to pick you up because you’re drunk). Especially if I don’t know where you live. And if we’re at my house drinking, I WILL hide your car keys until you are sober enough to safely drive and get home. And I’m more or less available 24-7 to them to pick them up if they’re too drunk to drive. I’ve lost too many friends to drunk drivers to NOT be this way. And I have put people in my bed and then fallen asleep on my couch that’s in my room. Because I want to make it clear to them that I’m not taking advantage of them when they can’t give informed consent.
I believe what you went through. And I’m sorry that you’re going to have a lot of people who try and victim blame you. Don’t believe them. They’re wrong.
LW, I have no original commentary for you. I just want to be another supporter, another person to say I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m so grateful you were not harmed more than you were. Here is another person who says this is NO way was your fault, and another voice of a support for you to remember when you have to remind your friends of that fact.
I saw this today, LW, and I thought of you. Scads of trigger warnings: https://thenib.com/trigger-warning-breakfast-c6cdeec070e6#.m55ui29f5
You did nothing wrong. You coped with a bad situation, and survived. Any friend who tries to blame you isn’t a friend at al. I hope it turns out you still have lots.
I’d be surprised if there were more than a handful of female-presenting people who have no similar stories to tell. You’re not alone. Here’s mine. CN/Warning: Creep
I was about 13 or 14 and very shy / introverted. I had older friends at school (16-18) who had cars and liked me for reasons I was too insecure to question deeply. They looked their ages. I looked maybe 11, tops. I was a very, very young 13-14, very smart but emotionally immature and sheltered. They invited me over to play board games and I accepted. I was seated next to a friend-of-a-friend, Creep, who was 24-25 years old. Creep took a shine to me and focused lots of attention on me, going as far as to grab my knees under the table, which embarrassed me greatly, but being raised around Southern men who think nothing of teasing girls or offering kids booze at cocktail parties (neither of which I was thrilled about), I figured it was normal behavior and I was being (as my mother put it) hypersensitive and unfriendly. When my friends called later that week to tell me Creep liked me, I was too young to fully grasp the meaning of that, plus I was slightly flattered that an Older Guy enjoyed my company (this lasted all of about 24 hours), because I was just a little kid and knew it. I probably said something noncommittal like “that’s nice.” Creep started calling my house, obviously having been given my number by my older friends. This was before caller ID. Picking up the phone was risking hearing the creep on the other end. My mother was very popular in high school and is still friends with her high school friends, men and women alike, and was no doubt thrilled that I was getting attention from A Boy, and she bulldozed over my protests and made me talk to him more than once, completely ignoring my comments that I wasn’t OK with that. I had a hard time using my words, and with being overly polite and very quiet and reserved, so assertive behavior was really not in the cards for me at that time. In short, I made for a good target for a Creep.
Other things Creep did:
* Showed up on campus even though he was not a student. This was before gated school campuses, and no one stopped him from just showing up and lurking.
* Tried to lure me into his car when I was queued up to get on the school bus.
* Followed my school bus home (!) when I got on it instead of into his car, and when I refused to give him my home address and stalked me to our apartment and banged on the door until I answered it, assuming it was one of my brother’s friends, whereupon he gave me a bunch of flowers probably bought at a gas station or grocery store and tried to get me to let him in.
* Called often enough that my mother tormented me about the ‘boy” who liked me so much. I knew she would not protect me, and if I admitted that he was 24-25 years old, she would probably restrict my ability to spend time with my friends. I was already rarely allowed to socialize.
* Showed up again after I thought he’d finally gotten a hint and pushed his way past me inside the apartment. I had been exercising in a thin sweatpants/hoodie outfit, and he bodily picked me up and held me off the ground, rubbed himself all over me while pretending he wasn’t, and forced me to sit on his lap. I finally got him to fuck off. I was very frightened.
Eventually he left me alone, but I was frightened for months afterwards that I’d see him at school, or at my front door, or calling on the phone, and of being punished for somehow leading this adult on with some kind of bad behavior. I also knew, deep down, that it could have been worse. I was terrified of boys and men for years after, blamed myself for not being more powerful at the time, and I was reluctant to go on dates with perfectly decent and age-appropriate men, and I still have a bit of distrust of most men I don’t know. Before Creep, I was pretty relaxed around everyone, male or female. It just took one Creep to fuck my head over like that.
Creep was pretty obviously an ephebephile/pedophile, and his persistence was terrifying, and I had no one on my side after. My best friends at school all thought it was great that A Man was showing up to drive me places, and thought I was rude and mean and frigid and unromantic (I was 13-14, remember) not to be ecstatic that this man wouldn’t leave me alone. My board game playing friends were already friends with Creep, and ignored or laughed off his behavior, and I was considered immature and uncool for not going along with the program.
Even though I had no one on my side, and it may feel like no one is on your side off-line/IRL, LW, know that you have a LOT of people on your side, and you didn’t do anything wrong.
And, again, I think everyone has a story similar to yours or mine. Which is horrifying as well. There’s a lot of male entitlement and deliberate ignoring of your bodily autonomy and right to say no and be respected, and we aren’t all assertive ninjas who know the perfect response when shocked and put on the spot.
Jedi hugs. I hope you’re ok…it sounds like it, but that stuff can really mess you up for a long time. Thanks for sharing that story…I know every time I hear about others going through similar things, I feel less weird and isolated. I hope the LW does, too.
I’m OK now, but it pretty much ruined any chance I was going to feel safe around boys or men, or go on dates in high school. But I’m OK with not doing that then, and I had good friends in college with whom I could group date safely, so I learned my social skills belatedly but safely. There was a similar incident in college with a friend-as-date who got a little bossy, boundary-poking and fresh, but I didn’t even have to go into a lot of details for my gal friends to put a polite buffer between me and Mr. Overeager. It wasn’t even seen as a big deal, and no one shamed me (or him). My feelings at the time were that he was trying to learn social skills, too, and goofed, but did not actually cross any boundaries, just pushed them a bit, so he wasn’t a Bad Guy. I just didn’t feel comfortable around him after that, and I believed that a lot of the situation as a whole had to do with my remedial social skills around the opposite sex, and only a little to do with him being improperly pushy rather than checking to make sure we were on the same page, because, in the end, he respected my clearly-stated boundaries / limits.
But, yeah, it definitely cast a shadow over my interpersonal life and dating life for a long time, and I am still wary of meeting men who aren’t someone’s vouched-for friend or relative.
But that’s water under the bridge now.
Let’s just say that, like the LW, I was made acutely aware, by Creep, that I was smaller and weaker than Creep, and was thus in an unsafe situation. It was not okay. But, like LW, I did get out of it. I’m just saying it isn’t uncommon, and you don’t have to do anything (right OR wrong, and LW did nothing wrong at all) to be a victim of a creep.
it isn’t uncommon, and you don’t have to do anything (right OR wrong, and LW did nothing wrong at all) to be a victim of a creep.
Yep. That would be my personal takehome point as well.
I’m a man who has developed strong romantic feelings for more than a few of my female friends over the years. Some of them I’ve dated, and some of them I’ve even lives with. I’m also someone for whom those feelings never really go away. This has left me in situations over the years where I’ve told female friends I was interested in being more, and in return have been told that they’re only interested in friendship.
And I respected their wishes, have been the best friend to them I can possibly be, and have never regretted it. Because when you care about someone, you care about their wishes, their wants, and their desires, and you respect them every bit as much as you respect the person who holds them. To do anything like what your creepy ex-friend did would be to violate the trust and autonomy of people I care about.
It’s not just possible, but even easy to respect the boundaries of a friend, even one you have feelings for. You just have to see them as a person. I’m really, really sorry that your creepy ex-friend didn’t see you as a person. And I’m really sorry that some of your mutual acquaintances will, ultimately, see him as more of a person than you. That isn’t fair to you.
As almost literally everyone else here has already said, it’s also not your fault.
You gave someone your trust, and THEY violated it. THEY transgresses. You have every right to want to surround yourself with people that you can trust, and it’s not your fault when one of those people turn out to be wolves in sheeps clothing.
He was wrong, and any and all of his defenders are wrong.
LW you say yourself you have male friends and have stayed overnight and nothing gets dodgy. I can attest that most men I know would similarly think it was sketchy as hell to just keep pushing like that.
So, to anyone who says it was your fault – no. No more than it’s someone’s fault if they stayed with someone who ended up stealing money or a purse or something; it’s the fault of the person who stole.
Second, are you overreacting? Absolutely not! Just because something worse didn’t happen, the dude still proved himself totally untrustworthy. Is there such a thing as a friend one doesn’t trust? I think that stops being a friend and starts being some kind of acquaintance or other relationship (provided there is something driving a relationship to continue at all).
I honestly don’t know about friend group dynamics. It just depends on a lot of things. I’d say it’s worth at least telling people privately one on one. Up to you to decide what you want them to do; it’s hard to control other people’s actions and there’s no guarantee what they will do.
Just to add – I suggest telling people privately so you can gauge their reactions one on one. I’ve had people “not take sides” when a mutual friend was behaving extremely aggressively to me, thinking it was “just drama”. Not a very close friend, but eventually I saw how WTF that was. They are not a friend anymore. I do not miss them either. Most people were very supportive but I think it helps to do it privately so there’s a solid chance to talk and see how they react.
Again, if they aren’t supportive, that doesn’t mean you did something wrong. How wrong the unsupportive is I guess would depend on exactly how and why they were unsupportive.
We were wondering if we would be allowed to share your post (with appropriate linking to the original and to your site, of course) on our feminist blog? I would love to spread the word on this matter, as I think it’s something everyone should read and know – especially women who have been in similar situations.
The worst part of this will be the thousand things you will ask yourself. “Why didn’t I stop drinking?” “Why didn’t I call a cab?” “Why didn’t I get out early in the morning?” They will all sound so reasonable in your head because people (including yourself) will keep telling you what a good guy he is.
He’s not. He’s not a good guy. He plays one on tv but he has just demonstrated in a terrifying way that he is not a good guy.
One of the hardest things in the aftermath of a rape was realizing that as angry and hurt as I was by the people who shunned me and called me a liar… I’d probably have done the same thing if someone had told me that story because he was just such a good, trustworthy, safe person… until it turned out he wasn’t.
I believe you and he was wrong. That may not help from strangers on the internet, but it was what I needed to hear and so I offer it to you. He was WRONG. This was not your fault.
LW, you did nothing wrong. He was in the wrong and anyone who implies differently is definitely not a friend of yours. That is not to tell you what you should or should not do regarding who you decide to keep in your life. I just wanted to say, as someone who was also pressured by a “friend” to have sex with him and then blamed afterwards for my refusal, that there was nothing you did wrong. You told him that you didn’t feel that way. You wanted to be friends with someone you liked as a friend. There is nothing cock-teasey about wanting friends and not wanting to have sex with your friends. There is nothing wrong with wanting friends and wanting to think the best of your friends. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trusting people who then turn out to be untrustworthy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling anyone, anyone at all, that you don’t want to have sex with them. There is nothing at all wrong with not wanting to be friends with him now that he has broken your trust and proved to be unsafe. There is nothing wrong with telling mutual friends (although I agree about the mutual friends part someone said upstream) that you don’t want to be friends with him anymore and that you don’t trust him.
I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m so sorry that people may be giving you a hard time over this when he’s completely to blame. I hope that my words can go a little bit towards alleviating the overwhelming “you shoulda, I coulda” that the brain manufactures. I hope that it gets better for you soon.
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