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Raped many years ago - any practical steps I could take now?

(45 Posts)
beth12345 Sat 08-Sep-12 22:12:50

I now have a lovely DH and DC, but over a decade ago I spent a couple of years in an abusive relationship. My boyfriend at the time never hit me, but he forced me to have sex on numerous occasions (sometimes violently, sometimes just hideous constant pestering to wear me down).

I never reported any of it at the time. But it does prey on my mind that he is very probably still behaving in much the same way towards women, and I do feel some responsibility that I did not take any action at the time. I am sure that he is still behaving in a similar way as his actions were based on a strong belief system of his (whereby he was the centre of the universe, women were only really appreciated for their looks, and he felt that he was 'owed' sex on a very regular basis). He also believed that once physical contact had reached a certain point, there was no going back in that the man 'had to have sex'. He refused to acknowledge the word rape in relation to how he behaved (to the point where I questionned it myself at the time -and still do really - I don't consider that he raped me he just forced me to have sex - though I know that doesn't really make sense).

Every few months I google his name, just to check there are no news articles about this person being charged with rape.

Does anyone know if there are any practical steps I could take now? Would the police think I was being ridiculous if I reported him now? What would happen if I did (I wouldn't want friends/family knowing what happened to me as I still feel ashamed that I allowed myself to be treated that way by him)? Ideally I would like to just be able to log this information with the police so that if he is ever accused (by someone else) of rape, then perhaps it would be of use to their case if the police had a statement from someone else who had been through something similar with the same man??

beth12345 Tue 18-Sep-12 23:01:07

I tried to call Rape Crisis but couldn’t get through. I know I need to try again and resist the little voice telling me this failure to get through is some kind of ‘sign’ that I am being over dramatic and/or it wasn’t really rape...

I think maybe I was feeling a sense of panic when I tried to make the call because I have no proper explanation as to why I behaved the way I did (i.e. why did I stay in a relationship with my ex for so long?). I feel that I will not come across as credible unless I can explain why I stayed with him.

And I cannot explain it. I was financially independent, we had no children. For most of the relationship, I wasn’t even living with him. So, if I define it as rape, what on earth was I thinking staying with him? It would seem that I kept going back to get hurt.

And it was not even a one-off incident; it was a whole series of incidents. Afterwards, he usually knew he had done something wrong, but would wait to see my reactions before deciding whether/how he would excuse his actions. But because we were in a relationship, the forced occasions were interspersed with consensual sex, which makes it all so bizarre. The whole relationship seems surreal now.

It would be so much easier not to see it as rape. Then my own behaviour would seem far more acceptable as I could just pretend that it was all consensual.

I have read through some of the rape stories linked to the We Believe You campaign, and thought how terrible many of those accounts are, and how important it is that more women come forward to report it. I believe all of the accounts I have read written by other women, yet somehow I still can’t really believe that I was raped (and not just once, but many times).

And I don’t feel like my entire life has been shattered by my experiences. I have a nice life now. I could possibly just ‘put it all into a box’ and forget about it for another 10 years. Which feels wrong, I feel as though I should be more ‘damaged’ if I accept that it really was rape.

But although it seems that rape should be one of the worst things that can happen to a woman, actually one of the worst things he did to me was something else that was sexually abusive but not rape.

I must be over-thinking this; I am going round in circles.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 18-Sep-12 23:59:28

Beth we believe you even if you doubt yourself. Will post more tomorrow xx

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Sep-12 08:37:52

Beth hope you are OK this morning.

Lots of women stay in relationships with their rapists. Lots have consensual sex with them sometimes too. Rape Crisis will believe you just as we do. You don't need to justify yourself - the man who did this is the one who is wrong.

I would urge you to keep trying rape crisis but you could also speak to the Samaritans if you think it would help as I think they have longer opening hours.

There have been posters on here in the past who also felt their rape wasn't the worst possible thing to have happened to them, either because they didnt want to be defined by it or because they had, say, seen a friend suffer a late miscarriage. Someone who had been, say, both burgled and assaulted in a pub fight might find the burglary more traumatic although the assault would carry a longer sentence and be more "serious", because they found the loss of security in their home hard to process. It wouldn't mean that either crime became less serious though.

rageandcrying Wed 19-Sep-12 11:41:43

Could I just mark my place, please, and come back to this thread when I have more time, since I have similar experiences to work through? Hugs to you, Beth, and thank you for starting the thread.

beth12345 Wed 19-Sep-12 22:22:36

Thedoctrine - thank you for your reply. Can I ask whether you really believe that there are many women who stay in relationships with their abuser, even where they do not live with them? This is where I am struggling not to see it as partly my fault - as I could have left him because I was living independently and we had no children. I did try to break up with him a few times, and he would employ various tactics to persuade me we should stay together, and I was sucked into whatever his latest excuse was.
Ultimately although I realise I don''t need to justify my own behaviour to anyone on this board or anyone at rape crisis, I feel the reality is that I will need to justify it to the police if I take it forward and make some form of statement. And I need to justify it to myself, so that I can stop feeling responsible for my ex's behaviour towards me.

beth12345 Wed 19-Sep-12 22:34:43

Also it does make more sense to me now as to why I found that being forced to have sex was 'less bad' than the other thing he did that was not rape. He did the other thing whilst I was unconscious, whereas usually I would be fully conscious when he forced me to have sex. So I think the other thing was so much more upsetting in many ways because I was completly unaware until afterwards (and it was something he had asked me to do previously and I had said no! angry)

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Sep-12 22:43:33

Yes Beth I do believe that. There are some great posters on MN who I know went on in relationships that weren't co-habiting or with kids after they were raped. A friend of mine also did this. I believe her and I believe you.

You are not responsible. You are not.

What he did to you when you were unconscious was also rape/sexual assault as he did not have your consent and could not reasonably have believed he had your consent. I can understand why it was so upsetting as there is no way either of you could have "pretended" it was something other than what it was - him acting for his own benefit with no care for you.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 19-Sep-12 22:52:13

Rage I hope you are ok xx

beth12345 Wed 19-Sep-12 23:47:47

Thank you.
Next time my DD's nap overlaps with the rape crisis opening times I will try again. If I become anxious about speaking to someone because I feel so responsible, I will re-read these comments.
And if I can't get through, I may well try the Samaritans instead. I would much prefer rape crisis as the person who answers the phone will be expecting a conversation of that nature. But it is crushing to psych yourself up to speak to someone and then not manage to get through, so I will see how I feel as I may just really want to talk to someone/anyone!
I can't speak to DH in too much detail as he will feel angry on my behalf and I don't want to upset him too.

Rage - I also hope that you are ok, please do come and talk when you feel ready x

itsthequietones Thu 20-Sep-12 12:10:37

Hi Beth,

I'm so sorry that this has happened to you. I'm in a similar situation myself and I can understand your need to find out why you stayed and why you feel responsible for your ex's actions.

I stayed with the ex for 3.5 years (lived together but no children). I understand why I stayed - I loved him, he could be a wonderful man, he made me feel so special. He also was also emotionally, physically and sexually violent. He used every trick in his book to break my confidence, to make me feel worthless, to rely on him, to be responsible for his moods and actions, to isolate me. Bit by bit he wore me down. I couldn't see another way out, I didn't think that there was one. I stayed because it took me a long time to realise that I could go, that the relationship was not normal and that nothing I could do could change him and I was very scared.

I need to try again and resist the little voice telling me this failure to get through is some kind of ‘sign’ that I am being over dramatic and/or it wasn’t really rape...

Yep, I understand this too. I called Rape Crisis, Women's Aid, emailed my UK local Rape Crisis centre, called at the doctors twice - no-one answered. I finally contacted a counsellor who answered promptly, made an appointment and is helping me to deal with it. I've spent many hours trying to convince myself it wasn't rape, just sex I didn't want, that he didn't understand what he was doing, that it can't have been that bad or I would have left, that it was nowhere near as horrific as some rapes.... trying to downplay it is common.

You've gone through something terrible and it's understandably still affecting you. Please don't be tempted to lock it all away again, you deserve the chance to heal.

Be kind to yourself, you are not to blame. The woman you were then was being seriously abused. I hope you manage to get through to Rape Crisis soon, counselling will help you to work through this and to understand that it was not your fault.

IsBella Thu 20-Sep-12 19:05:23

Beth it is not uncommon to want to re-live a trauma by replaying it, this time while having some control over it.

I went out on dates with my rapist for about a month after he raped me.

For years I beat myself up about that, wondered why I did that to myself.

It took me years to understand that it was because I knew that I would not get justice for rape. Nobody would give me justice and so it was easier to pretend that I wasn't raped - that way I wouldn't be a victim, I'd be someone who had had an unwanted fuck but hey, it was no big deal, look how hip and cool I was, I could go out with him and do it again with him, this time of my own free will.

The psychological need to take some remnant of control back over my life, was incredibly strong. When he phoned me to go on a date with him, I didn't even think of saying no; I wanted to prove that I was in control, that I called the shots, that I wasn't just some rape victim who he could fuck in an alley and get away with it. If I went out with him, it was the beginning of a romance, not the visceral feeling of invasion and helplessness it felt like.

Stop beating yourself up. You are not responsible for the fact that he raped you. Having a relationship with him afterwards doesn't make the rape any less true and doesn't make you a loon or a liar. It just makes you a normal woman doing whatever it is you had to do to come to terms with what happened to you.

Given that we don't get justice, we have to deal with rape in other ways.

rageandcrying Sun 23-Sep-12 09:47:08

Thank you for your concern, OP and Doctrine. I was orally raped by a person in authority over me. I find it hard to think or talk about it, and haven't even been able to read all the posts in this thread. What I have found really helpful is finding out from MN that "oral rape" is what it was. It's much better for me to think of it in those words than "something that happened". I am beginning to talk about it, but have been thinking that contacting Rape Crisis would be good. Does anyone know if there are therapeutic groups where women can talk about being raped? I feel a need to "talk it out". I see a counsellor (male) but would really like to be with other women in dealing with the detail of it. It was shit and it really affected my life. It happened when I was a teenager, so is very has been very deeply buried all these years.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 23-Sep-12 21:40:46

Hi rage I am so sorry sad

I am sure there are such groups, Rape Crisis should be able to point you to one local to you or could you ask your counsellor or GP for suggestions?

beth12345 Wed 26-Sep-12 20:24:55

I just wanted to post an update and say thank you to the people who have talked to me here.
I managed to get through to Rape Crisis today, and for the first time in years properly spoke out loud about my ex and some of the things he did. It was scary but not as bad as I had imagined. I feel that having 'talked' about it on this thread made it easier to put into spoken words.
Unfortunately, the woman at Rape Crisis did not think that I would be able to make the kind of statement that I had hoped to be able to make to the police (I had hoped I could just make a statement so that, if anyone else accused my ex of rape, my statement could perhaps be used to support their case. I didn't want to actually 'have my own case', as it were, as I didn't want to risk having to go to court). But she explained that the police have a duty to follow up all cases of historical rape - which I guess makes sense really it just seems to make it all a bit more daunting on my part. However she has given me the contact details of the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor in my area and suggested I get in touch with her to talk it all through in more detail and make a decision as to whether or not I do report him to the police.
Thank you again x
Rage - I am sorry. I agree with TheDoctrine that it would be worth you contacting Rape Crisis too x

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 26-Sep-12 20:32:51

Beth I am glad you got through and that talking helped, hope you can get more advice about the police xx

Kashmiracle Thu 27-Sep-12 13:12:46

Hi, I've just read this thread, and I just want to say how much I admire your openness, sharing your experiences here. It's a difficult thing to do.

I'm a therapist, and I would advise, that even if Rape Crisis are't able to help you with long term counselling, actively seeking out therapy will help enormously as they will allow you to process it in your own time. A psychosexual counsellor would be the best sort, or even somewhere like Relate can help both you and your DH work through this together and individually.

I really hope you manage to work your way through this and move forward with your life. You've taken the first step by asking questions and being proactive.


MerlinScot Mon 01-Oct-12 13:01:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MerlinScot Mon 01-Oct-12 13:01:44

Beth, really sorry that happened to you. I'm glad you decided to contact Rape Crisis and they gave you sound advice. They're awesome people.

Unfortunately historical rape isn't taken as seriously as it should be. I reported my ex for rape (anal and oral, so you can be raped that way too, unfortunately sad - Many ((hugs)) to you) and I nearly ended up prosecuted.
I also ended up having a long term psychological/emotional damage due to the contacts/interrogations done by the police officers, to the point that if it wasn't for my new life and a happy relationship with my current bf, my intention would be to sue half of the police department that handed my case. Patting rapists on the back and saying everything will be ok and treating rape victims as criminals should be punished or women won't ever have any justice.

My ex had previous allegations too, so to answer OP's question, reporting someone to do a favour to other women can be useless. I felt that way and stated it to any abuse and rape groups and charities from Shetland to London.

Despite it can seem an unpopular opinion, I think I stated many times that it's not a good idea to report a historical rape, especially if you were in a relationship even after what happened (yes, you can be raped and still hang on an abuser and rapist, although we were not living together, ever).
To change this, us women should probably find a way, all together, to make our voices heard. And that doesn't concern going to police, maybe petitioning against police's behaviour and policies could be a better idea.

We're not to blame, our rapists are.

beth12345 Wed 10-Oct-12 00:01:22

Thought I would update again to say that I have now spoken to the police about my ex.
In the end it transpired that different forces have different policies as to whether it is possible to simply 'log' information. My local force are able to do that, and so the information that I have given can be used as intelligence. I have given his name and told them in some detail what happened, but I have not made an allegation (only provided intelligence). My ex lives in a different area to me, and I understand that the information will be passed to his local force who will likely run some checks, but I have been assured they will not treat the information as an allegation either.
I am very glad I have been able to do this. Although it was difficult to talk through the woman that I spoke to was very sensitive and made it easier than it could have been. I felt on a bit of a high afterwards that I had managed to go through with it, although I feel a bit wobbly now.
I am hoping that I will now be able to have some kind of closure and not think about it all too much again. I have been offered counselling but I am not sure whether to take that up as I find it all so difficult to talk about.
I wish that more women were aware that they could just provide police intelligence re sexual abusers. I have heard the theory that it is a relatively small number of men who are responsible for a disproportionate number of the rapes/sexual assaults that take place, and so I can see how this type of intelligence could be really useful.
It just seems such a lottery though as to how sympathetic the police are, and with so much variation by area - MerlinScot your experiences sound so terrible, glad that you have a new life and relationship now.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 10-Oct-12 00:20:53

Well done Beth xx

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