Date rape: The black, white and grey

If date rape were a color, it would be grey.

“Do men who date rape do it on purpose, or are they unintentionally having sex with someone without their consent”

“If it was someone they knew, is it still rape?”

“What if both people were drunk, and he just misinterpreted the situation”

“A man who rapes is a terrible person, and this is very uncommon”

“He’s never had problems getting women, why would he need to rape someone to get it?”

“If rape is about power, why is sex involved?”

The situation of date rape can be very confusing.  Often when we think of rape, (even though in America only 25% or less of rapes are committed by a stranger), we think of the stranger in the bush type of rapes.  In that situation, that someone is usually a woman, is innocently walking home, and a man jumps out of the bushes and violently rapes her, for which the woman is beaten and bruised from struggling.  There are a million things to write about this topic, but today I want to focus on date rape, and to give the example of a close friend whom I’ve slowly come to realize is a predator and to use him as an example to help illustrate the questions above. (Also, just to note that violence is common in same sex partnerships, and women commit violence as well, but will be using terminology of men and women)

Situations of date rape are complex, just like the people who do it. One thing seems to be clear.  Men who rape, will do it again.  A fascinating study on this topic from 2002 was a survey given out to men in which the questions didn’t label the situation of rape, but rather described it, found that quite a few men will admit to what is considered rape, and that they are repeat offenders.   “Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists” by David Lisak and Paul M. Miller.  Describing this research:

When a college girl reports a “date rape,” the chances are high that it wasn’t a one-time, unfortunate mistake by a nice guy, a case of two young people having too much to drink, says a national expert on sexual assault.

The chances are better than 90 percent that the date rape was planned and intentionally carried out by a serial rapist, David Lisak told more than 400 students and campus and law enforcement leaders Monday at Montana State University

abuseI want to make a distinction about the type of people this post is about.  There is a whole spectrum to consider, and on one end, there are those who are predatory, and seek out people to hurt and to violate.  This group is like what is referenced above.  The serial rapists.  For them it is a thrill, like shoplifting would be for some, and they carefully plan out their attacks in advance,  have little to no empathy with their victims, may exhibit psychopathic tendencies. They also are likely to physically harm people as well, fantasize about rape, and commit other criminal acts.

Not every case of rape is committed by a deranged serial rapist.   I think it’s important to categorize this second group of people as abusers, whether it be sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, done to people that they know and care about.  They are manipulative, and sometimes may genuinely be sorry for what they do.  The abuser gets a sense of control in their life by controlling others and crossing other people’s boundaries.  They have a hard time taking responsibility for their actions and will blame others for why they feel a certain way.   They will seek out people who are vulnerable and not as capable in that moment to protect their boundaries that this person is slowly testing where the lines are.  Education and psychological help for these types of men needs to happen early, as the more ingrained these behaviors and patterns become in someone’s life, and the use of this type of behavior for them to feel good about themselves is a very toxic combination.

Manipulation:  Not everyone who emotionally manipulates people will take it to the lengths of abuse,  but it is one of many red flags to be taken in context of other warning signs.  Manipulation is just another form of control.  They can’t control their own actions and feelings, so they try to control other peoples’.  Actions include blaming others, being deceitful, not taking responsibility for their actions.   My friend was especially manipulative.  He would take advantage of my sense of compassion and say that he was going to commit suicide.  The first time this happened I was horrified.    Suicide is not something I take lightly, as I have been at the hospital bedside of friends who have gone through suicide attempts, and been at the funeral of those who were successful.    He would say “you said to call you when I was feeling this way, and I feel like I’m going to do it now.  Goodbye”.  Then he would not pick up the phone or respond, leading me to believe that he had just committed suicide.  This happened a few times, and I began to question his intentions.  At the time, I thought to myself that anyone who exhibits this type of behavior probably does have very serious issues, and that I would still take these threats seriously, although with a grain of salt, when he would talk about it.  Instead of being at risk for suicide, what I should have been more aware of, was that he was actually being very emotionally manipulative, and was more at risk of hurting other people than himself.

Boundaries: Crossing boundaries is not compartmentalized, and will also occur in friendships, with coworkers, and in other aspects of life.  It’s a very slippery slope and dangerous.  Some examples of simple things that are still boundary crossers:  1) Ignoring ‘no’ in other situations:  like your friend plans a birthday party when you say you didn’t want one, coming over when you said you didn’t want to see them, ordering you a meal at a restaurant when you said you weren’t hungry.    2) Crossing emotional boundaries – saying extremely hurtful things.

My friend began to slowly cross boundaries as well.  I felt my emotional energies being depleted as a friend, and I could not always ‘be there’ for him.  It was draining.  He would become irrationally angry, and say that he was always there for me as a friend, and I needed to do the same.  This usually would happen when something went wrong in other aspects of his life.  He would feel angry and out of control and try to take it out on me.  He began to threaten to tell people personal things about me, and he knew that I didn’t want my personal life shared.  This was about the time I hit my breaking point, and we are no longer friends, although as my coworker we share a small circle of friends and I still see him all the time.  This betrayal of my trust was worse than the suicide threats for me, as it seemed my friend had crossed over from unintentionally hurting me to intentionally.  I told myself that if someone were to tell people about things I was ashamed of in my life, things about my family and friends that should not be shared, I would accept the consequences.  I would not give him the power over me of using my secrets as leverage.  I was astounded that someone I had called a friend would be doing this to me.  I knew he had issues, but this was taking it to a whole new level.  Even after I began to distance myself, I tried to talk through these issues with him.  At one point when he tried to threatened me again, I told him that that was unacceptable and very unhealthy behavior, and he needed to find better ways of managing his emotions.  He was actually quite open in discussing it, and would say that he knew it was wrong, and felt backed into a corner and his only way out of that corner was to lash out and hurt people who hurt him.  He would apologize.  I’m not sure if he was sorry or not.  At first I thought that he was, but it was too ingrained in him to change, but I get the sense now that he apologized because he thought it was what I wanted to hear, not because he genuinely felt any remorse.   He confided that he had gotten a girl in high school to cut herself after she cheated on him, and he was proud of this.  It was only later with deep regret when I heard second hand story of a woman who said he had had sex with her when she was unconscious, that I wish I had done something, although I’m not sure what that something would have been.  This is a person who feels better about the shitty things in their life by hurting other people, who is unable to take responsibility for their emotions, and blames people for their own problems.   These were very big red flags and in retrospect I should have not been surprised to hear it, although initially I was skeptical and wondering whether the story was true or not.  This person is dangerous.  I’m willing to bet this is not the first time he has crossed that grey line, and I don’t think it will be the last.  No person is 100% bad, which makes this especially difficult.  We used to be very close and most of the time he was a good friend, fun to be around and a good listener, which is probably also why it took so long, and something so drastic to end the friendship.  You want to believe its a fluke rather than a pattern when someone you are close to crosses those boundaries and treats you badly. I considered myself a loyal friend and didn’t want to disown someone when they clearly needed help.   But staying friends with this person has caused me emotional distress, and continues to do so as I hear stories of them continuing these patterns with other people and hurting them even worse than they hurt me.

Advertisements

About Musings over Coffee

Fitness enthusiast. Love to travel, mess up recipes, ponder random things, get riled up about the news, all of which nearly always coinciding with one of my favorite things in the world: Coffee.
This entry was posted in Ramblings, Recent Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s