07 February 2011

Ripple Effect

This post may be a little disturbing, and will certainly not be a happy one, because it’s about rape.  If you want to skip it, please do.  I won’t be bothered.

I mentioned last month, that someone close to us had been violently raped.  I still don’t intend to tell her story; it’s hers, and not mine to tell.  At the same time, I feel like I have to tell our part of the story because her assault has had a ripple effect on my (and our) life.  In order to help you understand this effect, I’m going to share a few details.  Her attacker was not a stranger, to her, or to us.  He was someone that we had shared meals with – sometimes on holidays, someone who was friends with several other people we know.  Someone that none of us would have ever expected to do something like that.  He was someone who had apparently been watching this woman with inappropriate thoughts for years, since her early teens, and he is in his mid-forties.  While he wasn't a friend of ours, I have been in his home, and have dropped children off there so that his sister could watch them.  How could I have been so blind?

After it happened, she came to stay with us for a few days, and one of the things that she needed to do was to talk about what happened, in detail.  It hurt to hear it.  It hurt to know that it was something that I couldn't undo, or fix.

Since then, I have been having nightmares.  Dreams where people I know and trust do terrible things, and I have to smile and put on a nice face and just go about my day.  I have dreamed that he invaded my home, and that no one would let me force him out, that I just had to put up with it.  In one dream, I wanted nothing more than to kill him, but I knew that I had already sent all of my guns away.  He was in my home, and eventually I broke my way through all of the people who were in my way, knocked him down and tried to strangle him… only to discover that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Part of me feels like I shouldn’t be feeling this way.  This wasn’t something that happened to me.  But it did happen to someone I care about, and feel some level of protectiveness toward.  And, right now, it’s got me a little screwed up.

Then there’s another ripple effect.  It comes in two parts.  Jakobe and I have always struggled with a difference in our libidos.   And this has had an effect on both of us.  For weeks, the idea of having sex was something I couldn’t wrap my head around.  In addition, Jakobe has always been a little bit paranoid about rape.  Even after we were married, he wouldn’t have sex with me if I had been drinking, because I might change my mind.  We were slowly working through that (because a little bit of alcohol makes me frisky!) but this situation has brought a lot of that back to the forefront.  So, once I was ready again, he really wasn’t.  As a result – we have had very little sex, and that’s not good for us either.

I find myself wondering if this man has any idea the amount of damage that he has caused.  Not only to the woman that he raped, but also to her friends and family; the damage that he caused to the couple that were his first friends in our social circle, who introduced him to the rest of us.  Every one of these people trusted him to some extent, even if it was just the trust that someone you know could never do anything like that.  Every one of us has been betrayed.

There are things about this that aren’t quite as bad.  The criminal justice system seems to be working.  He was arrested less than two weeks after it happened, and has been in jail ever since.  He can’t make bond, and the courts won’t reduce it.  He has confessed to two of the three ways that he can be found guilty of rape, he just claims that he didn’t use violence, so I expect that there will be either a plea deal that will have him serving prison time, or that it could go to trial – at which point he would most likely be convicted.  She seems to be holding up well – she’s strong, and she’s dealing.


  1. Oh Jenni,
    I am so sorry to both you and your friend. Sadly, I know all too much about sexual assault and violence having worked in the field forever. I think what you are feeling is totally normal, I remember my first sexual assault training left me feeling uncomfortable (to say the least) about sex for a while. You are a terrific friend, it is incredible that you sheltered your friend and listened to the gory details but again, it can lead to vicarous trauma, which it sounds like it has.
    The vast majority of rape is not stranger rape. It is terrifying to learn about someone you trusted doing something so horrific.
    My thoughts are with you. If you need to talk more, email me at chunkbee at yahoo dot com.

  2. I'm so sorry you are in this situation. And I'm sorry that it happened in the first place. These types of things stick with people for a very long time...not just the victim, obviously. I don't have any words of wisdom to help you and I wish I did. It sounds like you have been a great friend and I expect you will be there for your friend in the future and that is a show of strength. Thinking of you.

  3. What a terrible situation, especially for your friend, but also for you. I've been in a position where we discovered a friend was hitting his girlfriend, and it's so difficult to reconcile the public/private faces that people have.

    Thinking of you and your friend.

  4. This is a real tragedy that nobody can ever "get over". It really sucks that this has affected your own relationship so much, but you are fortunate to have a partner who takes this issue seriously.


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