Should a Rape Victim Tell Her Boyfriend She Was Raped?

There is always a stigma to the woman who has been raped; she feels ashamed not to even want the next person to her, even if it be a woman to know she was raped. A woman who has been raped fears it will ruin her happy relationship if she tells her boyfriend.

This story below is narrated by Mariella Frostrup speaking about her rape incident and how she was able to recover from it. 

The dilemma I am in my late 20s and struggling whether to tell my boyfriend that I have been raped twice. We've been together for six months and I'm happy and hopeful for our future, but I am torn between feeling there is a wall between us if I don't tell him, and anxious that if I do, he'll see me differently and nothing will be the same. The rapes have shaped how I am in the world – the first made me grow up too fast and after the second I developed PSTD. I was lucky and got that under control with the help of therapists. 

Sometimes I'm on the brink of telling him when issues around misogyny crop up in current affairs. Occasionally quirks surface – like my hyper vigilance at night in unfamiliar streets – that I would explain, but I don't want him thinking I'm damaged. My boyfriend is one of the kindest-hearted, generous, most thoughtful people and is committed politically to feminism. However, I'm terrified he won't cope with this knowledge – that he'll pity me as a victim, see me as broken, won't be able to have sex with me anymore.

Mariella replies I understand your fears and wish I could reassure you to the contrary. The terrible toll that rape exacts, in the immediate aftermath and throughout the lives of its victims, is only slowly being understood.

You describe yourself as "lucky" for having managed to deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder you suffered, but I would urge you to take more credit for it than that. Coming to terms with the psychological scars left by this brutal and cowardly manifestation of physical power over another human being is a lifetime challenge for many.

I've just returned from a trip to Liberia to interview women and girls whose lives have been destroyed by sexual violence (estimates are that 75% of the female population was raped during the conflict that ended a decade ago) and listened to stories I wish I could forget. You have embraced the resources available to us in the UK and refused to allow these two terrible experiences to define your life. I am full of respect.

There is a stage further that, perhaps, you need to go. You are still fearful of the impact the knowledge of the crime committed against you will have on those close to you. That confidence to acknowledge and speak out about your experience is an essential component of full recovery. You describe your boyfriend as kind-hearted and politically a feminist so why are you so fearful of his reaction? If he embodies the virtues you outline he can only feel further respect for a partner who has so effectively managed to transcend trauma. If it shapes his view of you more negatively, then it's better he reveal his true spots now, rather than further down the line.

We know there are people who might struggle to cope with what's happened to you. They are not the people to set your sights on. You are one among millions. Last week a summit in London explored ways to deal with shocking statistics such as 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime, and 75% of the victims of conflict are women and children caught up in the often sexual-based violence that it unleashes. We've learned of the rape and hanging of two schoolgirls in India and the stoning to death of a newlywed outside a Lahore courtroom, but as your experience reminds us, rape stalks us in the UK, a supposedly advanced, secular and equal society.

For any relationship to flourish there needs to be honesty and trust, so it's important you talk to your boyfriend about what you've experienced, not in a bid for sympathy or as a "victim", but out of respect for the man you believe him to be. You've displayed strength and courage in building a good life and refusing to let your attackers define your future. Being a rape victim is nothing to be ashamed of, being a rapist is. Across the globe there are women and children left feeling guilty, dirty and debased as a result of a crime they endured rather than perpetrated.

I'm sure your boyfriend will understand and admire the fortitude you've shown and equally convinced that if he doesn't, a courageous woman like you deserves someone who does.

Category: Relationship News

Related Posts:

No comments

Powered by Blogger.