Rape survivor needs help with intimate relationships

Originally Published: October 31, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 4, 2008
Share this
Alice,

I was raped by my best friend a few years ago. I was a virgin then, and still, years later, I can't seem to "go all the way" with anyone. How can I stop freaking out and messing up relationships?

Dear Reader,

Before being too hard on yourself for "messing up relationships," try to remember that being raped may make it hard for anyone to have an emotionally or sexually intimate relationship. Since it was your best friend, someone you trusted, who assaulted you, you may feel betrayed. Some rape survivors who were virgins at the time of the assault also confuse being raped with having had sex. Rape uses sex as a vehicle for gaining power and control, however mutually consensual sex is different from rape. Rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse with force, fear, or violence, or when the survivor is so intoxicated, high, or unconscious that s/he cannot give consent and/or is fearful for her/his safety or life.

Keep in mind that you don't need to approach relationships or sexual activity the same way that your friends or peers do (this, of course, is true for anyone, whether they are a survivor of sexual assualt or not). If you feel pressure to move faster than you're comfortable with, consider cutting yourself some slack and allowing things to progress as slowly as feels natural for you. Healthy sexual relations rely on clear and assertive communication and respect. You may need more time, understanding, the right partner, or even counseling before you feel more comfortable and ready to take this step. You can contact your health care provider for a referral. Or, you can try one of the following organizations for more information, assistance, support, and referrals. It may be just what you need.

Barnard-Columbia Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center
(For Columbia and Barnard students only)
Peer Counselor Hotline: x4-HELP (-4357) [7pm - 11pm, 7-days-a-week]
Peer Advocacy Line: x4-WALK (-9255) (On-call 24 hours everyday)
New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project
24-hour, Bilingual Hotline: 212.714.1141
National Domestic Violence Hotline
24-hour, Bilingual Hotline: 1.800.799.SAFE (-7233)
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
24-hour Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE (-4673)
Safe Horizons
24-hour Hotline in NYC: 212.577.7777
24-hour, Bilingual Domestic Violence Hotline (NY, NJ, and CT only)
1.800.621.HOPE (-4673)

Allowing yourself to be intimate with someone emotionally or sexually may take time, and that's okay. If you've found someone who you feel comfortable with and would like to be close or have sex with, and you feel like having been raped is negatively impacting your ability to be in the relationship, talking with a trusted friend, advocate, or counselor could help you begin to chart a path for successful, and consensual, intimacy. Take care of yourself,

Alice

May 18, 2004

20729
Dear Alice, I'd like to thank the husband for his very inspiring response. In less than one paragraph, you've managed to give me the courage to consider one day telling a boyfriend what happened to...
Dear Alice, I'd like to thank the husband for his very inspiring response. In less than one paragraph, you've managed to give me the courage to consider one day telling a boyfriend what happened to me. And, not care whether he decides to stick around after. Up until now, I had decided to simply take this experience to the grave. I survived an attempted attack by my cousin, someone I trusted and at one point respected. I thought I was strong enough to not let it affect me. But, during a women's studies class and a discussion on rape, all of the feelings just resurfaced. I'm not going to lie; today this has affected me in ways I never might have imagined. Every time I can feel myself becoming close to a man, this huge wall surfaces. I don't trust men. I don't want to be involved with anyone because I can't bring myself to feel that vulnerable again. But, I couldn't agree with you more in valuing how important it is to get the support that one needs in order to move on. I am so sorry to hear that your wife is not ready to confront this event. But, please know that she will benefit enormously from your support and someday, she will confront this when she is ready. The event itself has given me a renewed desire to continue working at a hotline. And, it has driven me to write poetry again. Very rarely had I allowed myself to fully experience the pain of what happened. And, at least now it lives within the safe confines of a page. Not just in my head. Or, more importantly, in my heart. After all, I need to save some room for a good man to come into my life.

September 7, 2001

20379
Alice, You gave the poor girl good advice but didn't go far enough. My wife of 17 years had a similar experience while a student at Oklahoma U. in the early 1970s. While we were dating, she never...
Alice, You gave the poor girl good advice but didn't go far enough. My wife of 17 years had a similar experience while a student at Oklahoma U. in the early 1970s. While we were dating, she never mentioned anything about it although I always had a feeling that somewhere along her past she had been sexually abused. Finally, less than a year ago, I directly confronted her and she said that she was a victim of date rape at a frat party. It turned her life around as she became introverted even more than she was. At that time, a girl didn't talk about such things as it was considered her fault. I asked and begged that she seek counseling (I even called the date rape hotline to educate myself), but she refused. Still to this day, she will quickly change the subject on first time sex. What your writer needs to consider is to be open and frank with a serious suitor about what happened and that she just isn't ready to go all the way. She might consider asking a serious romantic to attend counseling with her. Any guy who refuses is not worthy of this girl and he is only after one thing. She needs to work on her self-esteem, don't hate all men, and be open with one who desires to become close. That is the way to love which will last.