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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Sensitive - can I help my friend?

119 replies

feedingatoddler · 18/05/2011 13:09

I've namechanged because I don't want anyone to figure out who she is (however unlikely that would be) but I am a semi-regular poster on this section and I know you'll be able to give me sensitive advice on this situation. If you think you know who I am or can link this to any other thread, please don't say so.

My friend told me the other day that she thinks her boyfriend/ex is having sex with her while she is asleep. From what she told me I don't think there can be another explanation for what's happening, although she can't remember it (hence not being sure) and obviously she isn't consenting. :(. They have technically split up, though neither are moving out, she doesn't feel she can ask him to because it's his house, and she has nowhere to move to so is trying to get something sorted, although they are still sharing a bed. They have a toddler as well. She's been offered a place in a refuge from other things which have gone on, she hasn't told anybody about this, and there has been no violence other than this. But at the moment she says going to the refuge is more scary than just living with this situation a bit longer. There's nowhere else to sleep in the house either - she can't sleep on the sofa because her ex's friend is staying there (who happens to be my ex, although that's irrelevant, I can quite understand why she doesn't want to share with him either) and she doesn't want to sleep in with their toddler.

I am really upset by this and want to help but I don't know what to do - I suggested going to the police but she's very resistant saying it will be his word against hers and she doesn't want to go through examinations etc, especially if he then turns around and says "well it was consensual" and it's still her word against his. And I don't really blame her TBH. It's almost like denial is easier than facing it at the moment, but it's happening 2-3 times a week, usually when he is drunk. I said what if he is going out and sleeping with other girls first, he could give you a disease, but that just upset her at the thought he might have moved on already. I cannot imagine what sort of mental place she must be in that all these things - moving to a refuge, her recent ex sleeping with other girls - are worse than being raped 2-3 times a week. I just want to get her out of there.

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ElephantsAndMiasmas · 18/05/2011 13:15

Oh god, how disgusting this man sounds. If she's not willing to go to the police about her ex raping her, I can only suggest practical things: biting the bullet and sleeping in with the toddler (I wonder if she is more frightened of the arguments this will cause than the actual fact of it - especially if he is violent?), staying with friends/family, or even at the very least wearing clothing in bed that will mean he has to obviously be awake/wake her up in order to get to her :(

feedingatoddler · 18/05/2011 13:32

I wondered if it was arguments, too. Or the unthinkable that he might come and do it anyway and she's worried the toddler will wake up and see. He has never been violent but threatened it sufficient to mean she is scared to push any arguments in case they escalate.

She has tried wearing knickers and said that although she's never woken up with him doing anything, she did once wake up with her knickers off and then when she woke up in the morning they were back on and she couldn't remember either taking them off or putting them back on again. Maybe jeans or something might be more difficult, even if they are uncomfortable. She told me she is a very heavy sleeper.

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CogitoErgoSometimes · 18/05/2011 14:02

She needs to leave the house and take up the place at the refuge. She should then also make a complaint of rape to the police. As it stands, her case is weakened by a) choosing to continue to sleep & live with the man even though she believes she is being repeatedly assaulted, b) her claim that she sleeps through the assaults and c) not reporting the offence. The 'other things' that led her to being offered a place at a refuge cannot be trivial and threat of violence is violence if it means she's living in fear. She is putting herself and her child in danger every day she continues to live there. If she can't be persuaded to do this for herself, point out that his next girlfriend will suffer the same abuse or possibly worse if she keeps quiet.

PeppaPigHonk · 18/05/2011 14:05

Can she not put a simple bolt on the inside of the door?
Is she a very heavy sleeper? Apart from the knickers what else is making her think this is happening?

PeppaPigHonk · 18/05/2011 14:08

Sorry - just read they are sharing a bed.

The absolute first thing she MUST do is put a stop to that. If it IS rape then she will have one helluva job convincing anyone in authority of that if she is in his bed every night.

dittany · 18/05/2011 16:17

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feedingatoddler · 18/05/2011 17:04

Yes, I did tell her that it was rape. She seemed quite upset at me saying that but we were in a semi-public place so couldn't react too much. Then went through "Maybe I move in my sleep and he thinks I'm up for it?" but I said no, he has to know what he's doing or he wouldn't be so careful about it. And yes she told me she's a very heavy sleeper. The other things which make her think that is that when she wakes up she has tummy cramps which she usually gets after sex, and discharge which she described as being like semen. This was in a kind of incredulous "It couldn't actually be that though, could it?" but then she is worried enough that although she isn't getting on with her current contraception, she's considering going on the implant instead of stopping the pill completely, just in case.

She doesn't want to go to the police, so the argument that if she keeps sharing a bed with him nobody will believe her is pointless. It's almost the other way around if that makes sense. She feels she has no choice but to share a bed, so she feels she has no right to complain about it and/or nobody will believe her. I just wanted to know if there was anything I could do or say to help.

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dittany · 18/05/2011 17:13

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AnyFucker · 18/05/2011 17:16

Could she and her dc move in with you (or another friend/family member) for a while until other accomodation is sorted ?

I would open my home to a friend in this situation

CogitoErgoSometimes · 18/05/2011 17:18

I think the only thing you could do or say to help is to offer her a place to stay or persuade her to take up the refuge offer. Make her see that she has choices besides sharing a bed with a man she can't trust.

feedingatoddler · 18/05/2011 17:34

I can't have her to live here, I would in a heartbeat, but I'm renting and my landlord's not that happy with me at the moment anyway so I think I'd lose the house and then we'd both be homeless. I don't know any of her other friends so don't know their situation. I know of a young mum's home near here which she might be able to access but I don't know whether you can self-refer, and she might see it as being like the refuge anyway. Although I'd forgotten about that so thank you for reminding me, I'll see if she can speak to her health visitor.

Chances of her getting out soon are highly unlikely since without actual violence being involved it's discretionary whether she's "at risk" enough to be offered accommodation by the council and she has no chance of saving up money for a deposit since she doesn't have access to her own money at the moment. The council have decided she is not at risk, so I think it will take years before she gets anywhere on the housing list, unless he does something stupid and gets arrested before then.

One thing I wasn't sure of, if she told the housing officers what was happening here, would they insist she went to the police or would they just accept that as a reason that she's in desperate need of housing?

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dittany · 18/05/2011 18:40

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AnyFucker · 18/05/2011 19:15

O hdear, this lady needs to speak to Women's Aid and the people who offered her the refuge place.

Why is she set against the refuge ? She would get lots of help and support. I would rather live there than with a monster in my bed.

BestNameEver · 18/05/2011 19:36

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dittany · 18/05/2011 21:05

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CogitoErgoSometimes · 18/05/2011 21:18

Whilst applauding your instant support dittany, I'm seriously struggling with the idea of someone who can sleep through penetrative rape on multiple occasions without being anaesthetised either by medication or large amounts of alcohol. (Spoken from the position of a notoriously heavy sleeper incidentally) I'm not sure that BestNameEver's scenario is more or less plausible but there's certainly something odd about the entire story.

AnyFucker · 18/05/2011 21:24

no, the scenario doesn't add up as told here, but I wouldn't be approaching this from an instant position of doubt either

there will possibly be more to it, but it doesn't change the fact that this man is a snake and an abuser, and she doesn't trust him not to assault her in her sleep

I would be starting from that position and trying to persuade her to get out of there by any means possible

does anyone here think she should stay ?

dittany · 18/05/2011 21:24

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AnyFucker · 18/05/2011 21:30

cog, I don't think we are talking about rational and normal responses here, are we ? (by the usual definition)

feedingatoddler · 18/05/2011 22:08

Yes sorry, I am aware it is violence, I meant violence as in something the council office are aware of. Incidentally I'm now wondering if she went in and said he had hit her, would they demand police reports of that, or would that be accepted without question? (Not really relevant, just musing)

I will see if I can get her to speak to Women's Aid again. It's taken over a year for her to get to the point where she's called them, so it's a good step. I honestly don't think she is making it up. It might be that her perception of events isn't 100% clear, but I don't see why she would lie. I have a horrible feeling it's been going on for a long time though - last summer I remember having a jokey conversation with her about anal sex and then she said she was a bit worried that her P might do that to her when she was asleep and was then really surprised at how shocked and horrified I was to hear she was even worried about that as a possibility. I said then that if he was ever to do anything sexual to her while she was asleep that it was rape and she could have him arrested for it, and her reaction was "Don't be silly, I couldn't call the police on him just for that!" but then said that he hadn't ever done anything like that anyway, and she was probably just being paranoid. So I didn't push it at the time. Then she didn't mention anything like that for ages and I assumed that it wasn't an issue - but maybe it was. :( I can certainly relate to the mindset that sex is just for your partner's benefit and oh, just hurry up and do it, kind of thing, (have moved on from that myself, thankfully) and it's possible that it was such a slow transition she didn't really notice there was anything wrong until I said the first time, and then it took her this long again to build up the courage to say anything.

It's really hard for us to meet up and talk about things, because her P always suspiciously turns up, so we have to go out, which means either we're in a public place or we both have DC around which makes it hard to talk as well. I keep inviting her over to stay the night though, hopefully now they are split up that might be a possibility, even if I have to go and get her on the bus.

I don't think she's drinking, because her P drinks a lot and she despises alcohol at the moment. She is taking painkillers, and it's actually her P's prescription, which he doesn't take because he'd rather drink - but I don't know that they are strong enough to cause blackouts. These are for migraines and she says the ones she is prescribed aren't strong enough.

BestName I don't think she's saying she wants to, just that the alternatives are all so scary that she doesn't have a choice. (Except of course she does have choices, and they probably aren't as scary as she thinks right now)

OP posts:
PrinceHumperdink · 18/05/2011 22:16

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cloudyweather · 18/05/2011 22:26

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dittany · 18/05/2011 22:26

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cloudyweather · 18/05/2011 22:39

oh one of the greatest "shut up"words ever-"you are imagining it"
bloody victorian and it still stands today!
im going to go now as im beggining to sound deranged

dittany · 18/05/2011 22:48

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