I don’t usually do trigger warnings here but this whole post is centred really really hard around r*pe and you wouldn’t specifically know it from the title so beware.
Context to this post: I have recently learned that The Dandy and Dandette broke up the first time not (probably) because of fundamental personality differences, but because a guy raped Dandette at some kind of nerdy-thing convention – and incidentally this happened pretty soon after The Dandy had his heart bypass surgery – and the general stress of these big life events happening in a short span pretty much broke the relationship. I mean, Dandette literally woke up with this guy’s dick inside her so she developed trust issues and PTSD and stuff. Maybe it made her hate men for a while? I don’t know but she’s actually the one who broke things off.
So anyway. Dandette ran out of anxiety meds and isn’t able to get more for a little while, so she’s been having panic attacks. The other day she had one while we were out running errands, so we immediately started walking home again. Eventually, in addition to the panicky breathing and stuff, she started whimpering with every step and she told me that she hadn’t expected to be walking so much so she’d just thrown on her sandals – but her ankles are shitty and generally need more support than that so now walking was agony.
Later, when The Dandy and I were alone, I told him about this and asked if Dandette had a pattern of being self-defeating (it was a suspicion I had). I mean, the mall we were going to was a couple of blocks away, and Dandette herself suggested we make some unplanned detours while we were out. If she knew that the sandals would quickly make walking painful, why would she wear them for errands where we would probably be walking a bunch? Does she do things like that a lot?
The Dandy said that she does. I asked for an example and he said “Like getting drunk at a con and not wanting to leave when I left, so she stayed and ended up crashing in a room with a guy she didn’t really know.”
WHAT. “…Is that when she got raped?” I asked, carefully. The Dandy confirmed that it was. “Wow. That’s some victim-blaming bullshit.”
The Dandy objected and said he didn’t blame her for the rape.
“But dude,” I said, “I was asking about situations where a person does a thing with a predictable end result and then seems blindsided by that result. Do you see how ‘she wore shoes that hurt her feet and then was shocked that her feet hurt’ is different from ‘she stayed overnight somewhere and a guy decided to rape her’?”
“Do you, though? Do you get that Dandette didn’t get raped because she got drunk or because she stayed out or because she slept in the same room as a guy she didn’t know well, but because a guy was around who decided to rape her? Like, if there hadn’t been a rapist around, she wouldn’t have gotten raped. She could have passed out drunk in a room with a thousand guys and if none of them was the kind of guy who thought it was okay to stick his dick in a sleeping person, no rape would have occurred. Her rapist is responsible for that happening to her. Nobody else.”
The Dandy kept claiming he understood, and maybe he did now that I called him out, but judging by how the topic even came up, I’m gonna guess The Dandy’s been blaming her for her own rape all these years. And I can’t help wondering if he didn’t hide that very well and that’s why they broke up.
And I felt a wave of dread wash over me because I live with this man now – I’ve thrown my lot in with his, and in fact it’s doubtful I could find or afford a place of my own again right now even if I wanted to. The Dandy plays a key part in my survival at this point so I want the relationship to work out…and he’s just revealed himself to be a victim blamer. Is that what I have to look forward to? Him saying “Welllllll in fairness you did do X and Y” if (god forbid) I get raped or sexually assaulted again?
So that put me in a funk for the rest of the evening. It also brought my mind back to the various sketchy shit that’s happened to me in the past, and I told The Dandy a bunch of those stories, not in any kind of hectoring “So how you gonna blame that one on me, huh? Huh?” way – not to make a point at all – but just riffing. He listened and seemed supportive – no playing “Devil’s advocate” or any of that shit – so that’s something.
Unrelated: the next day, Minx texted me that the hot 22yo poly boy I’ve been so enamoured with raped a friend of hers multiple times, and some other people, too. And yeah, at first I did the typical mental gymnastics of “No, that guy is awesome, he can’t have done this” but ultimately I know that it’s exactly those instinctive mental gymnastics that make it really unlikely that a person is lying about that sort of thing – that particular accusation is way more likely to make people disbelieve and ostracize the one saying it than to actually get anyone to think badly of the accused, and every adult woman knows this. So basically I figure he did do these things. And I was slated to hang out with him that night.
Now, people do have facets. Maybe this boy really was awesome – toward me. Maybe he’d never break my boundaries, just like how serial killers sometimes have wives and families even as they kill other people. But I don’t want to take the risk and frankly I don’t want to give my time and attention to someone who’d abuse anyone. I can’t bear to think that a guy I’m wooing is someone else’s I-can’t-even-see-a-photo-of-him-without-being-triggered person.
I called The Dandy (this whole revelation about the boy happened at my art gallery job) and told him how the boy I liked has apparently raped people and I’d better probably cancel my outing with him that night.
And The Dandy replied “Well, you haven’t heard his side of it yet.”
I called him out on his hypocrisy immediately. “Wait, okay, so if Dandette sleeps in the same room as a guy she’s never heard any sketchy stories about but he rapes her, that’s her fault for trusting him, but if I hear that a guy I know has actually raped people and I decide I’d maybe better not hang out with him, I’m not giving him a fair shot? What the fuck!?!? And you do realize most people don’t lie about these things because they know everyone’s gonna say exactly what you just did, right? If someone tells me that a guy is rapey, I’m inclined to believe them.”
I can’t remember what The Dandy said. Probably nothing much; he freezes when I’m angry. I had to get back to work anyway so I ended the call.
I did cancel my outing with the boy, citing tiredness. I wasn’t ready to confront him about what I’d heard. He kept texting me hellos and whatnot that I ignored, though, and finally the next day he texted me like “Sorry, I don’t wanna be ‘that guy,’ but longer-than-average radio silence makes me antsy. Is everything okay?” Well fine then. I told him that a trusted source says he raped a friend of hers, repeatedly, and I kinda need to back off and process this info. I did not ask for “his side” – what’s the point? Ask a rapist and a non-rapist if they ever raped anyone and they’re both gonna say no. Although Minx did say that this boy takes a different tack; he admits to it, but says he’s reformed. He also, oddly, tries to play the victim card by claiming he has PTSD from being called out on his actions back then. WTF.
But as I said I didn’t ask for an explanation or justification. I simply said I needed silence so I could think. I figured it would be interesting to see if he respected that boundary or not. To my mind, in a situation like this where one person asks for space, the other person gets leeway for one more text message but then they’d better shut up. The boy sent me two messages rapid-fire but nothing since, so in that respect he’s okay.
In those two messages, though, he said exactly what Minx predicted. Here’s the second one, with commentary by yours truly (commentary from inside my head; I didn’t respond to the message at all).
I’ve worked really hard not to be that person. All of my partners know. I try to tell all of my friends and be hyper aware of myself and my privilege.
Minx said that this boy pretends to be a feminist in order to get in people’s pants. He certainly has the lingo down.
The person they were talking about was my first long-term sexual relation and I didn’t know how to act or how to be.
“Wait so I’m not supposed to slam my partner against the wall and choke them? God, how is anyone supposed to keep track of all these rules?”
Because yeah, that was in Minx’s report. The choking was in front of one of the victim’s friends, so not part of any of the rapes from what I can gather. The rapes I think were more coercion, and to be fair I think sometimes a person can be coercive or emotionally blackmailing without consciously realizing it, and rape culture makes it seem normal. So I can kinda see how a young person in their first relationship might be rapey because they don’t know any better (doesn’t make it okay, just makes it a thing that happens). But choking someone in front of their friend is pretty textbook abuse and I think it’s ludicrous for him to be like “Oh, I was new to relationships, I didn’t know how to act.” Of course, he probably doesn’t realize I know those details.
This doesn’t excuse what I did but I hope it gives some explanation.
I hope you’ll believe me when I say that I tell people eventually. This person accusing me of this has given me PTSD and I’ve worked really hard to never do anything like it again.
This, right here, cements that this boy is an utter piece of shit. I’m sorry, Princess, did it hurt your feelings when someone called you out about rapes you did in fact commit? That must have been so difficult for you. Sadface.
And what does it mean to have PTSD from someone pointing out that he was an abusive rapist? Does he have flashbacks, go into a fugue state, and have to rock back and forth in the corner every time a perp gets arrested on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit? Like…no. NOPE. I call bullshit on this. Feeling uncomfortable at realizing you did something awful to someone isn’t PTSD, for fuck’s sake. But even if he did somehow legit have PTSD from being an abusive rapist, that’s entirely his own fault and not a thing he should ever try to leverage for sympathy. It’d be like telling people your knuckles always hurt when it’s about to rain because you busted your fist all up once while punching a puppy in the face, and expecting people to go “awwww, poor you!” Nope: fuck off.
Also, wtf is with him using the word “accused”? That doesn’t seem like a word you use for something you acknowledge that you did.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and if I didn’t ever get to talk to you again I’d be really sad about that. Sorry if that was allot[sic]. I just wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t at least try and give my side.
Yeah no this is not about “feeling right,” it’s about trying to feel better about himself – and making himself look good (insofar as that’s possible) so I might still fuck him one day. I heard he’s a rapist and in fact that is correct. He admitted this.
So, I guess things with him are done now.
Good news, though – the last time I talked to The Dandy about any of this he’d apparently realized that yeah, everyone always says “butbutbut they’re so nice/let’s not be hasty/let’s hear their side/oh they can’t have done a horrible thing like that” when someone says a person raped or abused them, ergo most people don’t even bother mentioning it because they’ll just be ostracized for making crazy allegations against such a great person, ergo when someone does say it, it’s more than likely true. I think he gets it now, or at least he’s starting to.
There’s still another small piece of drama that came out of this, though. When Minx was texting me about the boy, she showed all this disdain for the idea that he called himself “reformed.” Not in the sense that she felt he must be lying. She seemed to think that if someone commits rape they must be an irredeemably terrible person, so there’s no such thing as being reformed.
And I’m thinking “does Minx not remember that she raped and sexually assaulted me when we were together, or…?” I guess not, or else she doesn’t use those words for what happened (which in fairness I didn’t, either, for a long time; the words imply intent to harm to most people, even though the technical definitions don’t mention intent). At any rate, her holier-than-thou attitude and false-dichotomy type of thinking (like there are people who are nice and there are monsters who give unwanted sexual touching and they are two groups with no crossover) was bugging me so I texted her that while I don’t believe this particular boy is necessarily “reformed,” I do believe it’s possible for a person to do a bad thing and then realize it was bad and not want to do it again; after all, she raped and sexually assaulted me when we were together and I still choose to be friends with her. I know she’s not a terrible person.
Minx did not respond to this. At all. Although when I told her about my exchange with the boy the next day, she did engage with me about that, so I guess she’s not angry and freezing me out for calling the previous incidents with her what they were. She just doesn’t know what to say about it, I suppose.