‘I was raped by a previous partner but my current boyfriend minimises my trauma’ – Lalala Letmeexplain
In Lalalaletmeexplain's hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.
With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.
Are you an OK! VIP? If not, why not? It’s free and gives you backstage access to stories like this, exclusive home tours, special discounts and so much more! All you need to do is pop your email address below! P.S. If you’re already seeing this article in full, congrats – you’re already on our guest list!
***Trigger warning: this column contains discussions of rape and assault***
I’ve been ‘official’ with a guy for two months and dating for three. It’s been going so well. There have been manageable niggles, but something has happened that I just can’t see past. I told him early on in our relationship that I had been raped by a previous partner. It was a difficult thing for me to say, but I felt it was important because it impacts on how I am in relationships. I’ve also mentioned it in passing since we sat down and had a more serious talk about it.
We were with his friends the other day and a discussion began about rape. He and his friend were talking about how men fear being falsely accused. I passionately debated this and used statistics I’ve learnt, but I ended up having to ask for the discussion to stop because it was upsetting me. I went outside to cry as I felt triggered. My boyfriend came over to comfort me and I said: “It dawned on me that neither of you have ever been falsely accused of rape, but I have been raped, and we’re debating this, so it has upset me.”
He became absolutely perplexed and confused and acted as though he was hearing that I’d been raped for the first time. He said he had no idea. I reminded him of the conversations we’d had where I had spoken about this and told him that it hurt that he hadn’t remembered. He said he must not have remembered because it’s hard to empathise with it as he isn’t a girl and as I come across as so bubbly and happy, he just doesn’t associate me with someone who has been raped. My question is whether this is a big red flag that I should run from? It feels like one, especially because he is drastically minimising my trauma.
Unless you’ve been hiding in a cupboard you will have seen the reactions of people on social media to the high-profile allegations of rape that were revealed by Dispatches on Channel 4 last week. The reactions have shown us how little people understand about the complexities of rape and sexual assault. People seem to think that they know what ‘real’ victims would do and how they would behave, then use this to excuse allegations of predatory behaviour. They say ‘a real victim would report straight away’ or ‘a real victim wouldn’t go to the media’ when none of these people have a clue whatsoever about the psychology behind any of it and have no idea of what victims would do or what they are like. Victims and survivors behave in all sorts of ways. So do abusers.
It sounds like your boyfriend and his friend have been swayed by the narratives on social media that would lead people to believe that millions of men are languishing in prison having been falsely accused of rape, when in fact the truth is that out of 70,000 reported rapes in 2022, only 1,500 resulted in a conviction. Most rapists will never see a jail cell. Only 0.6% reports are found to be false. People appear to be far more worried about the incredibly small number of men who are falsely accused than they are about the tens of thousands of women who report and aren’t believed or are believed but aren’t given justice.
I think part of the problem is that when most people think about rape, they imagine someone being dragged down an alley, they imagine brutal violence and injuries. They don’t imagine it being a husband quietly forcing his wife in her sleep, they don’t imagine a boyfriend removing a condom without consent, they don’t picture a family man forcing himself on his partner when she’s black out drunk. I’d be curious to know how you told him about it, in what terms. I’m wondering if you described what happened to you but didn’t say the word ‘rape’, and if so, then perhaps he didn’t interpret what he heard as being rape, which is definitely a red flag. The idea that he didn’t take it in because you seem so happy and bubbly is naïve at best, at worst it’s saying, ‘well it doesn’t seem to have impacted on you that badly then’. As though survivors are just supposed to mope around for the rest of their lives.
Your boyfriend is utterly clueless about the whole subject, he seems to believe every rape myth going, but I guess he previously had no reason to educate himself on it. The worrying part is where his views might be coming from. He said he can’t empathise because he’s not a girl. Would he be able to identify with a male victim then? Why can’t he just empathise on a human level? If his views on all this are coming from the ‘manosphere’ which is basically the place on the internet where all the misogynists are (Andrew Tate and his buddies) then it could be a red flag for him developing more concerning views. If he’s just picked this up from mates but is able to be educated and is keen to learn more about it so he can meet your relationship needs as a survivor, then it’s workable.
His views are naïve and misinformed, but they are only worrying if he isn’t open to changing them. Tell him to read Rough by Rachel Thompson or listen to my podcast‘How the Russell Brand Allegations Have Revealed Social Media Misogyny’.
It certainly is concerning that he didn’t remember the conversation, and that’s either because he didn’t interpret it as rape, he wasn’t listening, or as he said – he just didn’t take it in because he can’t empathise. All of those are red flags. It’s only been a couple of months so it’s probably not worth putting yourself through the exhaustion of having to educate him.
But if you really think this is worth fighting for then it’s only workable if he’s fully open to being educated and is able to display empathy and understanding as a result.
If you have been affected by any of the topics mentioned in this article, visitRape Crisis England and Wales for further support. The 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year on 0808 500 2222. Rape Crisis Scotland can also be reached atrapecrisisscotland.org.uk.
Source: Read Full Article