Rapists apologizing–or not
I just read this article by Deborah Copaken. She’d been raped 30 years ago, but didn’t tell anyone at first. She then told the intake psychologist at her University Health Services, but was advised not to report it to the police, because of the irreparable damage it would do to her: She wouldn’t be able to live in Paris as she planned, and her sex life would be dredged up and judged during the trial. She didn’t tell her parents till years later–and did it through a memoir, not to their faces. Due to the Kavanaugh hearings, she finally got the courage to write to her rapist and confront him. His response:
And do you know what this man did, less than half an hour later? He called me on the phone and said, “Oh, Deb. Oh my god. I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I’m filled with shame.”
We spoke for a long time, maybe 20 minutes. He had no recollection of raping me, just of the party where we’d met. He’d blacked out that night from excessive drinking and soon thereafter entered Alcoholics Anonymous. But that, he said, was no excuse. The fact that he’d done this to me and that I’d been living with the resulting trauma for 30 years was horrifying to him. He was so sorry, he said. He just kept repeating those words, “I’m so sorry,” over and over.
Suddenly, 30 years of pain and grief fell out of me. I cried. And I cried. And I kept crying for the next several hours, as I prepared for Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of forgiveness. And then, suddenly, I was cleansed. Reborn. The trauma was gone. All because of a belated apology.
I also know someone who was accused of assault many decades after the fact. He did not, could not remember ever doing such a thing. But instead of denying it, he apologized anyway.
Contrast this to how Kavanaugh reacted to being accused, even though many witnesses have confirmed that he used to get blackout drunk when he was in high school/college. Can’t he even consider that he might have done it and just doesn’t remember any of it? Why can’t he apologize when others have done so for sexual crimes they don’t even remember?
I’ve also thought about–with all this going on, and #MeToo–finally confronting Phil and Shawn, all these years later. But I wonder if it would do any good, because haven’t I already done this, with nothing good coming of it?
They were not drunk or on drugs when they did these things; they were fully conscious and remembered later. But they did not apologize.
While Shawn did do a lot of pushing to get me to do things I was not initially comfortable with because of my upbringing, he didn’t go against my will. That was not his transgression. Rather, after all the pushing, I eventually began to want what he wanted to do, so I let him do it.
But then he blamed me for not saying no to him, for letting him do it, and I’d be subjected to HOURS of him scolding me (well into the wee hours of the morning, even 5am) for letting him do it.
I always let him take the lead, because of these scold sessions; I never, ever started things, out of respect for what he’d said the last time. Yet he still blamed me for the things he did this time.
I never understood why he’d blame me. I never could figure out how he could live with justifying himself like this by turning around on me what he himself had done. It was definitely an abusive relationship, full of gaslighting and DARVO. And like many abuse victims, I was too in love, and too involved in it to recognize it at first. I finally went to the school counselor to help me break free of him.
But the words of Libby Anne and other bloggers are finally making it clear to me what was going on, how he could blame me for what he himself did:
While conservative evangelicals give lip service to boys and men, too, having an obligation to remain pure until marriage, the burden of saying “no” falls primarily on girls and women. Why was Dr. Ford at a party where there was underage drinking? Why did she go upstairs in a strange house, alone? She put herself in harm’s way—can a guy be blamed for asking what she was clearly offering? Or so the logic may go.
In evangelical circles, boys and men can be more easily forgiven for touching “loose” women than they can for touching godly virgins. In Proverbs, the “wayward woman” leads godly young men to the slaughter. In evangelical circles, girls can easily find themselves painted temptresses, and blamed for their own assaults. —White Evangelical Forgiveness Narratives, Brett Kavanaugh, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
Then there’s Phil. Years later, I see his ex-fiancée posting on Facebook about how wonderful he is–so gentle, so sweet, wouldn’t hurt a fly–except there’s a “Bipolar Phil,” a guy with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, who takes over. Yet I remember this episode, where I clearly said that what he did was rape, so he’s already been confronted:
But one night, what a horror! In the middle of things he said, “Give me your backside.”
I kept saying, “No, not that way!” but he kept pressuring.
Before we finished, while still on top of me, he withdrew and moved down to my anus, not actually in but trying to get in.
I pleaded with him to move.
I clearly said no, and I also struggled, trying to push him away.
But he didn’t listen and didn’t move, and he ejaculated like that. It got all over, and I got mad at him for not respecting my wishes.
At one point, as he sat hunched over on the side of the bed in the darkness, I said that rape could be grounds for divorce.
He said in a trembling, petulant, upset voice, “So are you going to divorce me now?”
I said no, but our reconciliation was probably painful. It felt like a rape. I still think of it as one. He did to me sexually what I didn’t want him to do, despite my pleas. The trouble is, in a situation like this, how would you even prove it in court?
[O]ral sex…was another point of contention: It was gross, no matter who did it to whom. I didn’t want him to kiss me afterwards, but he would whine that none of his other girlfriends said that.
I didn’t want to do it to him, didn’t want to put anything like that in my mouth, did not like the taste, would not do it long enough to get him to ejaculate, because it was absolutely disgusting.
But he kept trying to get me to do it. (His “subconscious” tried to ease me into it. More on that later.) But I got no pleasure from it, was grossed out by the whole thing.
I may have been traumatized by this and the constant coercion: When the cafeteria served okra that fall, I couldn’t eat it, because it was slimy and reminded me of oral sex.
Ever since then, I have never engaged in this disgusting practice again, and have been blessed with a husband who also finds it gross and wants nothing to do with it.
Late summer, during sex, Phil sometimes tried to turn me over to do my backside–with a petulant, angry, stern look on his face, like he wanted to control me and I’d better do what he wanted or else. I would refuse and resist his hands, and push myself back down.
…In September, he broke off the marriage and spent a couple of weeks psychologically abusing me. Then he came back to me. I thought he wanted to be married again, but he just wanted sex and a submissive puppet.
By now, my will was broken, and I was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.
If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.
I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away. I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.
He seemed like a different person. After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again. That meant even oral sex:
One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants.
He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not.
I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t. —Described here
This was a man in full possession of his faculties who knew exactly what he was doing. This was a man who–when I used the word “rape”–became petulant rather than apologetic.
Now I hear about the bipolar Phil, the FAS Phil, and that he’s fighting for his life due to chemical imbalances that have damaged his brain and made him suicidal. Since I already confronted him years ago, I wonder if it’s even worth bringing it up again. I feel like maybe I shouldn’t poke the bear and dredge it all up again. I wonder if he even remembers, given his brain damage. I wonder if it’s all due to the FAS and bipolar and a couple of other diagnoses–which his fiancée has alluded to, without naming them. I wonder if bringing it up again would be the last straw that would lead to him killing himself.
So I stay silent. I think it’s best. But still, the memories keep getting triggered, thanks to our president and his praising of Kavanaugh, along with the many defenses of Kavanaugh that have been coming from conservatives lately.
But I guess we’re just snowflakes accusing an innocent man.