by Dish Staff
A reader writes:
That email is such a compelling, extraordinarily well-written, and utterly heartbreaking account of a truly sadistic and unspeakably selfish rape. I find myself completely ashamed that I share similar chromosomal make-up with someone capable of such an act. This account should be required reading for all men, and not merely because it’s always good to remember that sexual assault creates far more damage – lasting damage – than just the violent act itself, but also as a broader reminder that empathy is one of the most important values that anyone can have and demonstrate in all aspects of our lives.
The disgusting selfishness displayed by this woman’s rapist, and the total lack of empathy for the feelings and well-being of another human being is truly chilling. And the planning that took place to execute this violent assault. So many opportunities to take a step back from the precipice. So many opportunities to listen to the inner voice that says “No. This will hurt someone.” And yet.
We must do better. We fathers of sons must do better.
Another gut-wrenching story:
I wanted to write to tell you that rarely have I been moved – rocked may be a better word – by something on your blog more than that story of a woman’s rape and its aftermath. Considering all of the subjects you deal with on a daily basis and how long I’ve been reading the Dish, that’s saying something. It’s also saying something because I’m a man, and yet much of what she wrote rings very true for me. Let me explain.
When I was in my late 20s, I learned that the woman I planned to marry had also been raped while in college, also while studying abroad.
She also had said nothing about it to anyone. A few weeks before I was planning on asking her to marry me, she felt that she needed to share with me what had happened to her. Needless to say, I was shocked and stunned and angry in a way I’d never been before. I desperately wanted vengeance, and yet I wanted to concentrate on not making it about me. I wanted to support her in any way I could.
In the days and weeks after that, she revealed that there was more she had to tell me, and it wasn’t just about that horrible night. Much like the woman in the email, she was struggling and ashamed because of some things she’d done after that night – some things she’d done while trying to regain the identity and self-control which had been taken from her. She was with people she normally wouldn’t surround herself with, abusing alcohol and drugs. There were sexual encounters she was ashamed of. She was “typically responding.” They were things that didn’t seem like the type of things the woman I know would do, and they were fairly recent.
As the man who loved her, these were very difficult things to hear. They were even more difficult things to understand. I felt like I didn’t know who she was before she met me, or at least that there was a part of her I wasn’t privy to.
It unsettled me, and I’m embarrassed to say that these revelations eventually unravelled our relationship and our plans to marry. I tried hard to come to grips with all of this new information, but I simply couldn’t return to the level of trust and confidence I had in her before.
It’s painful to write that, because I understand now what I didn’t then: that none of this was her fault. These weren’t character flaws. Those incidents weren’t who she was. They were an attempt to recover from what had been done to her. I knew this, but after reading the email you posted, it suddenly made sense in a way it hadn’t before. I’m sitting here today, at my desk, ashamed of not being more understanding, ashamed of quietly blaming her for how she conducted herself in the months after she was raped. Ashamed of judging, of holding those things against her instead of understanding that she needed someone to do the exact opposite.
She has since moved on with another man and married him, and I am happy for her. Like the woman in the email you posted, she was not defeated by her rapist. She’s successful. She has a young family. No one around her knows the things she’s been through. Her parents don’t even know, which makes me wonder how many women (and men) are quietly suffering in our midst. But I’m sure her husband knows, and that he’s a more loving, more understanding man than I ever was.
Or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe what I taught her is that you have to keep those things to yourself if you want to have a life with someone. My stomach hurts just writing that.
I want to thank this woman for sharing her story, for explaining her struggle so honestly and eloquently. As horrified and saddened as I felt after having read that, I hope she knows she’s helped me understand what my ex had been through in a way I never had before. And that like she said, she is surely not alone, sadly.