When a Rape Victim Is Kind to Her Attacker After the Crime

Seeking redemption through respecifying rape.

Posted July 17, 2020 | Reregarded by Ekua Hagan

Having devoted over 20 years to prosecuting sex offenders and also functioning via survivors, I am well mindful that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the human being, partly because most victims are sexually assaulted by someone they know.

Why don’t victims run to the police to make a report? For all of the reasons you might expect, including shame, confusion, tension, loyalty, or unwillingness to create drama among one’s peer group or experienced colleagues, depending on in what context the victim kbrand-new the perpetrator. Is tbelow a way to compartmentalize the trauma? For some victims, in order to endure emotionally, the answer is yes.

You are watching: I fell in love with my rapist


Reframing Sexual Assault

Research has actually establiburned the tendency for many victims to fail to check out rape as the violent, non-consensual crime that it is. As frustrating as this is for crimefighters and victim advocates, it is important to recognize that we cannot always characterize the true nature of sex-related encounters by habits afterward. Practical examples are illustrative right here.

A 2014 item in The Nib outlines a woman who is raped at night and makes her rapist breakfast the next morning. Why would anyone carry out this? As defined in the item, aptly depicted in comic-book format, that would certainly expect that even though she shelp no, making him breakrapid the next day could readjust the story. Since, after all, if it wasn’t compelled sex, that would intend she was not raped, which means that her acquaintance/frifinish (usually) still asleep in her bed is not a rapist.

Changing the narrative permits victims to (falsely) restructure non-consensual sex right into a romantic encounter. After all, as outlined in the item, he did say she was beautiful. If a victim is able to compartmentalize, she deserve to relocate on. But can she really?

Building a Relationship With a Rapist

A piece in Vox supplies an instance of exactly how among Harvey Weinstein’s victims explains exactly how an occurrence of forced sexual task in a hotel room resulted in a romantic partnership in between the 2, which had subsequent consensual sex. The writer supplies this example to anchor her own suffer, which was equivalent in terms of staying on great terms through her rapist, despite a violent episode of forced sex. She felt that her assailant, a successful skilled, was somejust how making up for his criminal actions by helping her network-related and build her career. She indulged that idea in order to mentally weather the storm.

Other woguys have common the exact same form of suffer. One woguy willingly went out on a date through a male that sexually attacked her a couple of years beforehand. In a item in The Cut aptly entitled “I Dated My Rapist,” Jessica Knoll tells her story. Two years after being raped at a party as a teenager, her rapist asked her out on a date. Her reaction? “I was grateful. I believed his renewed interest in me might actually spell redemption.”

While the 2 did not gain physical at the end of the evening, she describes they did kiss at a party a couple of years later on. She explains that she still assumed her rapist can somejust how help in her healing process but said that rather, “the feeling of his lips versus mine made me recoil in disgust, and also it never occurred aget.”

Rape Is a Crime, Not a Consensual Encounter

Some womales that have actually been raped try to restructure the experience in order to make it through. If they willingly interact in sexual contact via their assailant after the reality, perhaps they think it deserve to serve as a type of retroactive consent—normalizing the attack. Not so.

Nonethemuch less, it is understandable why some victims desire to reframe the suffer in order to reget a feeling of regulate, albeit after the reality. While rarely a viable solution to resolve the emotional trauma, it is somepoint that deserve to be mutual with other victims similarly located, and handling the same eactivities, in order to help them make feeling out of their experience.

Turning Victims Into Survivors

Reframing sexual assault does not settle the problem; it enables it to fly under the radar. Obviously, all cases of sex-related attack have to be reported ideal away. But knowledge just how victims respond differently to trauma provides insight into the behavior dynamics bordering acquaintance rape, and exactly how to resolve the results.

When victims are ready to confront the true nature of the crime, sometimes years later on, we need to be all set to assist them begin the healing process. Understanding just how self-protective habits might have seemed adaptive at the moment, therapists and also victim advocates deserve to be ready to provide assistance and also counseling to address the trauma that the survivor has been attempting to mask, however is currently ready to challenge.

See, e.g., Wilson, Laura C., Katherine E. Miller, Emma K. Leheney, Alesha D. Ballmale, and Angela Scarpa. 2017. “Evaluating the Psychological Effect of Rape Acknowledgment: The Interaction of Acknowledgment Status and Ambivalent Sexism.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 73 (7): 864–78. doi:10.1002/jclp.22379.


See more: Why Is Productivity Growth Considered To Be The Most Important Factor In The Ad/Asad/As Model?

More recommendations

About the Author


Wendy L. Patrick, J.D., Ph.D., is a career trial attorney, behavior analyst, writer of Red Flags, and also co-writer of Reading People.