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On Confronting My Rapist

** Trigger warning **

I am a statistic. I represent the 1 out of 6 American women who are victims of attempted or completed rapes in their lifetimes. I am among those victims who never reported their rape(s) to the authorities. I am one of those victims who shouldered this secret in silence for years, feeling ashamed, humiliated and guilty. In fact, I didn’t speak a word about what happened to me until seven years after the fact.

But I am NOT angry anymore. I (finally) have closure after half a lifetime of identifying myself as a rape survivor. And it came about in the oddest, almost unthinkable, way.

I was a sophomore in high school when an acquaintance crossed that line of acceptable behavior, plunging me into the worst period of depression I have ever known. I couldn’t concentrate in school, I stopped eating, I had nightmare after nightmare. I eventually switched schools and the distraction of adjusting to new teachers, classmates and friends helped lift that omnipresent cloud from over my head. For a bit.

Then college came, and as do many college kids, I drank lots. And the memories I worked so hard to suppress boiled to the surface. My senior year, I cracked and spilled my secret to close friends, parents and siblings. Their outpouring of support was, well, unparalleled. I started attending group therapy for rape survivors on campus and found strength in sharing my story.

Since then, I’ve been more vocal and public about being a survivor. In fact, I credit my experience with propelling me towards a career in women’s rights. But there was always a piece missing: I never vocalized my story to my rapist.

Until recently.

Through the magic of social media, I located him. I sat and stared at his profile for three days, my stomach churning and heart racing. I broke out into a sweat every time I pulled up his page. But I had made a promise to myself long ago: that if I ever “found” him, I’d confront him about what he did. So I sent him a message, just saying hello. It was all I could manage. And I waited for a response. I waited a couple of days, but it felt like weeks. Finally, I got a response: he returned my hello and inquired as to how life was treating me these days.

I was floored, to say the least. And completely nauseous as I typed out my reply. I was still too much of a chicken to come right out with it, so we exchanged a few more messages, skirting the obvious, until I ripped off that proverbial band-aid. I had rehearsed in my head 10,000 times what I would say to him if ever given the opportunity. I nearly had my spiel memorized, so actually writing it wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined.

That’s not to say I didn’t struggle with typing that fateful message. Perhaps distance, both geographical and temporal, had made a difference — I actually considered his feelings. What must it be like to be on the receiving end of an email calling you a rapist?  Did I want to be the person to turn someone else’s world upside down by clicking “send,” even if that someone had caused me suffering? After all, we had never discussed what happened in its immediate aftermath. What if he didn’t know what he did was rape? I didn’t see how that could be possible, but as my best friend who is a therapist always says, the mind’s ability to deny is very powerful.

I had no expectations of a response.  As far as I was concerned, I made good on a promise to myself, and that’s all that mattered. So imagine my reaction when I not only got a response, but one requesting a dialogue about it. So we dialogued. And I got what I believe to be a heartfelt apology — an apology for what happened then and an apology for what I’ve gone through since.

Perhaps because I wasn’t expecting a reply, I wasn’t prepared for how GOOD those words made me feel. I don’t have the vocabulary to express how good exactly, so I won’t even try. But it was like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders. And for the first time, I cried tears of joy over this aspect of my life. It was finally over.

This is not to say that my rapist has transformed into some sort of savior for me. I saved myself, not him. But ironically, the missing piece of my closure involved the piece that caused me pain in the first place.

I am a survivor. But I am not angry anymore.

 

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30 replies

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  3. I’m so sorry you endured this, and I deeply admire your courage in confronting the situation. I knew you at the second high school (I think it was the second), and I remember you being very open, kind, and outgoing to everybody. The fact that you were dealing with this kind of darkness on the inside at the same time demonstrates what a strong person you are.

  4. I am also a victim although I dont like to call it that. I also found the man who done the bad deed to me on a social networking site, I messaged him saying I need closure in my life that I need answers but he blocked me( he denied rape and said we were in a relationship when it was reported). I thought it would be a breakthrough in my life to finally have answers after so many years of unanswered questions, tears, and sleepless nights. I feel empty, I have had a lot of help counselling, people by my side but nothing feels quite right i still feel there are many pieces missing. I did report it two years after the incident but I then withdrew my statement, the way it was reported was not how I imagined it my partner without my permission found the man and tried to beat him up he also humiliated him in front of he’s whole neighbourhood, this was the west possible thing that I ever imagined… why? because it meant everyone knew what had happened to me. so he’s still out there pondering the world I feel the best way he could repay me is to talk to me, but he declined.

  5. I cant tell you how helpful this story has been for me. You are a very brave woman. I am in a similar situation. I found his facebook broke out in sweat then promptly vomited and had a panic attack. I decided a few days ago to message him and, like you, tell him what he did to me. I have no idea what to say yet but you have given me the courage to go through with it and tell him how he ripped my life apart. I am so glad Ive found this website!

    • I am so sorry at what happened to you! I am and did go through the same thing you went through. I too found his facebook page and I have been crying and angry for days. I ask the police department what did they think of me contacting him and confronting him about what he did to me. Of course they said that they do not recommend this course of action! My cousin is friends with him on facebook and I don’t think she knows what he did to me. I messeged her and asked her if she knew him and to tell me about him just to see what she would say but she will not respond to my messege.

  6. I know it’s been awhile since you posted this but I know that I can never forget. I was 13 starting a new school and met “Bill” (real name) my (what i believed) horse trainer. After my horrific situation he sob ran, Need to remind you this was in 1983 here in the mid west. His wife threatened me and my mother, saying it was all my fault and that I deserved it. That he had left to a neighboring state and place himself into a rehab facility. Back then our County would not do anything about it. Then when I was 16, I saw him again in a mini mall. I was carrying a motorcycle helmet and I did all I could to not swing. As the years past I found out that he was friends of my neighbors’ & bosses ex-wife. I informed the family of the person that he was, and then they had informed me that he moved to TN then later on to KY. Also finding out the “Bill” was friends of my ex’s deceased father. WOW what a blow. Then in 2012, we had a tornado. I called a few local companies for estimates for repair. When I was speaking to the gentleman about scheduling an estimate, I recognized his voice. I happened to ask him his name, how long he’d been at this company and what his employment references had been and where he was from. Explained that I couldn’t determine where he was from because of his accent (I knew) He then asked if I knew him and I responded no. Everything was confirmed by this one conversation that I was speaking to the animal that raped him. I then made a call to that family down the streets member that knew him. Yes she had heard that he was back in our state. He is on Facebook, has kids and I’m still freaked out. A part of me wants to make a phone call to his son asking if he really KNOWS his father. This animal has kids and even teenagers on his facebook. I believe that they should know that is a RAPIST. Yes there was 1 other victim before me and apparently she was terrified to testify. So wherever she is Thanks for being a chicken and not standing up to him. I would still testify against this Animal as it seems his life has been great, All while I suffer in silence.

  7. Thank you. If it were not for social media I don’t know how I’d still be here today. Others stories let me know I’m not so alone. After I was raped, no one wanted to talk to me. Not my mother, not my (now)husband, not the police who tried to convince me drop the charges & walk away. It’s only recently, I have even been able to talk about it. I never knew the impact it would have on my life. I don’t know who hurt me more? The man who raped me, my family who thought it was best to push it under the rug, the police who said I had no case or was it me for just allowing everyone to hurt me all together?

    • I can relate to you about the police trying to push the case under the rug and my father told me it was my fault and I deserved it. I was at a friend’s house when I was 16 and she invited some “friends” over. I didn’t know them. He violated me and the police told me it was a he said she said case. I have recently had the ability to locate him through a friend who has resources. I am not sure what to do.

  8. i really hope this does not leave my real name! damn you all made me cry after each one of your stories. i tried to confront my rapist over facebook. i could not draw out any sympathy or guilt; just a you deserved it. i never thought it was rape; till a girl was talking about it and let me know rape is any unwanted sextual act. even if you tell them to stop and it hurts they continue. here are some sad stats. 4/5 aboriginal woman have been raped; 2/5 of north amarician woman have been raped. but did you know it is thought that less then 1% of men victims are thought to have ever come forward. we do not have any heroes to follow. there is nothing more then shame for men victims, maybe we think everyone will think we are gay for being a victim. silly and childish, but so are men’s minds. Men are suppose to be strong, fighters, not victims. how can i stand before a judge at 6 foot four and say that my attacker raped me when i had the power to easily kill them or stopped them. truth is i do not think i could ever hurt any one, not purposely. shit when i told my wife her only comment was that i should be sure as to not let this effect my work. like i was six or something. yes it was a cold response. but as men should we expect any more? i think we do. my ass has been bleeding for 3 years. all the doctors can do is give me hemroid cream. you think the doctors would listen ? NOPE. now im on watch for colan cancer. i have also been diagnosed with Hepititis C the 6th varient. the worst and most destructive form. the same as my rapist. how am i to prove any of this to any authority ? i have no proof. what i have not had sex with anyone else but my new wife since, but who will believe me. PS i was diagnosed 2 weeks ago with HEP C. and my child and wife are so far clean. which is the good. friday i plan on going to the police i pray. remember there is no statuate of limitations on rape or murder. it is never too late to come forward BE STRONG! i am not like you guys i cannot forgive mine for how my life has changed since; i am likely going to die of liver failure before my child graduates
    college.

    • thank you so so much for sharing your story. my heart goes out to you. you are absolutely right — we as a society need to re-examine how we perceive and treat male victims of rape. it’s unacceptable that standards are not the same across the board. i hope you get the treatment you need — both for your medical needs and for your emotional healing.

  9. You may now have enough evidence to secure a conviction, if you wanted to pursue that option. Look at the intro to this story… I was amazed. http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-03-28/news/31251839_1_press-charges-kenneth-moreno-justice-system

  10. I just found my rapist. He raped my by gunpoint. I was only 13 or 14. I’ll have to check my diary to be sure. I just found him. I found him today. My heart raced. I have been looking to resolve what happened since 1991 — but I couldn’t remember how to spell his freaking name. Through a friend’s social network page, I found him. I literally just found him so thank you for your story. It helps relieve the isolation and pain I now feel.

    I am actually sitting here three hours later still wondering what I should do. I think he has a record. I looked at all of his pictures and he scares me. He told me that if I ever told anyone that he would shoot me — I remember this now, yet for all these years I bought into the narrative of blaming myself as I grew older.

    I want to face him. I want to see him try to deny that he raped me by gunpoint with my own eyes. I want to see his eyes as he lies to me. I am studying his pictures — looking for a street address number — taking note of the fact that he lives in an apartment building. I will wait until I can face him — and I will find out where he lives now, even if I must drive up and down every street until I recognize the color of the building in his photos. I am going to confront him, in person. I don’t care if he kills me. He wrecked a good portion of my life — wrecked it — made me live in denial — compromised my ability to bond — destroyed my relationship with my family — wrecked my professional confidence — led more predators to me as they smelled the blood he left — he almost destroyed me. :( Honestly, my first instinct was less than courteous — I wanted to cause him harm — but then I realized that all of what I’m feeling is the rage of that 13 year old child combined with my ability to see how much he shaped my entire life. :(

    I tried to reach out to my friends for support just after I saw his picture. My friends don’t get where I’m coming from. One even said, “I hope he’s locked up” and proceeded to talk about her dogs. Another said, “why look back?” I don’t think they understand what I’m going through right now — I feel SO alone.

    I’m dealing with the real feelings from it all as I type this. It is as if since seeing his picture for the first time since it happened, I’m no longer mystified by a trauma that happened long ago, and the trauma is alive, and I’m in it.

    I wish I could tell someone, I want to tell everyone what he did to me. I want to post his picture on my social networking page and let the mutual friends from HS see me accuse him, even though it’s now close to 30 years later. I want to type his name here, too! Why are we socially bound to protect those who hurt us so much? We’re not lambs, I don’t get it. . .

    I see I’m going to have to join a support group; otherwise, I am fearing I will be unable to shake off how horrible I now feel. I’m no longer in denial. I am alive today. I’m in and out of strength now. In and out of feeling like I’ll fall apart. What will happen when I face him eye-to-eye? I can’t even imagine, but I hope it will be the right thing to do.

    Just typing all of this out has been really cathartic. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Thank you for listening to mine! Maybe with the advent of social media, we need a 1-800-Confront Rapist hotline.

    I’m really glad you got the resolution you needed by confronting your rapist. Thanks for being a bold, great role model. You rock.

    • Your story has touched me so much. The loneliness that you feel, because unless you have been through it, all reactions seem “out of this world”. Unless you have clawed your way through life trying to live as you carry the burden of a pain so strong no one can understand. They can’t see how sole destroying it is, they can’t understand how simply functioning day in day out is worthy of an award, they can’t see that we NEED to take back the control that he stripped from you. I hope you develop the strength you need to fight back for your control, I hope that you get the closure you deserve. Most of all I hope that life for you becomes easier. I hope all these things for you because they are the things I know I need.

      • Dear Beck,

        I called the courthouse and told them what happened to me in this town. I shared about the crime on the phone with the clerk. Said he held me hostage at gun point and raped me when I was 13 — and when he was done — he made me crawl out of the window. The clerk asked for his name. I gave it to her.

        She looked him up and urged me to pull his records, giving me one case number in particular. I sat in the courthouse and read all about his resisting arrest, drugs and weapons related charges. Suddenly who he was seemed so small to me. One clerk urged me to go and tell the DA what happened. I was in shock. So instead I went to get a bite to eat with his criminal records in hand. There I stared at his mugshot — and realized that if I went to the DA with my story — the first chance they had they’d lock him up forever. That’s a lot of power — and control.

        My full investigation of him helped me so much. I’m so much more in control now. The fruits of my life’s work are taking shape. I’ve begun to reflect I’m someone with something to offer and a predator’s target anymore — finally — after years of being abused by all kinds of people professionally and personally. And the only way I found my power was because I deliberately moved back to the town where I was offended, then kept visiting the scene of the crime, crying there and remembering and finally I found him.

        Now I hold his future in my hands. One clerk said he could be tried still because I was just a child. I’ve yet to go see the DA, however because I’m relishing in the fact that he’s a just a small man with a pea brain. I delighted in knowing I could put him away for what he did to me.

        Had I seen that he did rape another, I wouldn’t have taken the time to digest what my next move needs to be. . . but I’m sure I’m not the only one after reading his record. . . I feel for those who he must have hurt as bad as me.

        Thank you so much for your words of encouragement Beck. I’ve now finally recovered control — so many years after the fact. Thanks for being here. Thanks for what you’ve done. Thanks for being a brave example — a ray of hope for those who feel trapped in such a dark pit!

        Love and hugs,
        C.

      • P.S. Typo: I mean, I’m not a predator’s target anymore. My story shows that some men are too dangerous to contact so I should add that here. I’m so glad I didn’t confront him in person as I initially wanted to, he might have shot me dead! But I’m watching his every move now on a criminal reporting system — and that feels good! I’m one who has no choice but to use the law if I feel I need more closure. . . so ladies, stay safe as you heal! Hugs!!!! XO May the force be with you!

  11. Maureen, I am proud to know a woman of such strength and grace. Thank you.

  12. Im so glad your not angry any more and thats awsome that you have told your story ! Your an amazing person and a survivor! :)

  13. Maureen, your story is sadly very similar to my own – as well as many other sexual assault survivors.

    I was sexually abused by my stepfather. Throughout junior high and high school, I was anorexic and I wished that I could just disappear. At the time, I had no memory of being sexually assaulted. I just new that I felt unworthy of love – I hated myself, I hated my body, and all I wanted to do was die.

    My college experience was similar to yours. Lots of drinking, smoking, and generally avoiding any kind of intimacy. Thank goodness I discovered Women’s Studies – because I found a support network and turned my depression and rage into a passion for fighting the good fight.

    About five years ago I started having flashbacks of my assault, and I knew I needed to talk to someone. My therapist was amazing. She had me read the book The Courage to Heal – and that book changed my life. I wrote a letter to my stepfather confronting him for both the sexual abuse, as well as the physical and emotional abuse he put me through. I cut him out of my life completely, changed my last name, and reclaimed my life.

    I am still learning how to love my body. Fortunately, I don’t struggle with an eating disorder anymore, and I’ve learned how to trust people again.

    I think getting closure and confronting your rapist is such an important part of the healing process. Confrontation doesn’t have to involved the court system. Sometimes writing a letter is a powerful act of resistance. I’m glad you got the closure you needed.

  14. I am very happy for you that this worked out in this way. Unfortunately I was told that I was crazy and that I had wanted it as much as he did. It is hard to not be angry sometimes but for the most part I am not. I was also 15 the first time that this happened to me. Congratulations to you on such a wonderful outcome.

    Love and light,

    Lucky Star
    http://www.victimnomore.wordpress.com

    • I am very sorry to hear you received a very opposite reaction. People can call you crazy, deny that it happened, claim you wanted it too — but NO ONE can take away YOUR truth. You know what happened….and the universe knows. So one can only hope that Karma does its thing… Love & light right back at you :)

      • I am confident in time that he will get his. I had been told previously that he was gay and had AIDS but I found out that that was just a well meaning lie by a very dear old friend. He actually popped up on my Facebook “People you might know” list last year and seeing his name made me freeze up. I did see him once out in public years ago and I froze. I went into flashback and panic attack and the guy I was with couldn’t understand. When I finally told him I had to hold him back from running after the guy. Why do guys think that violence is the only way to solve things? I dunno. Thank you for your words. You are right…no one can take away my truth and I know that Karma will deal with him. I really am very proud of you for taking that step and for having such a wonderful outcome. It is not often that something like that happens. You give me a little more hope in “Man-Kind” :)

        Lucky

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