Hi Dr,I am in a relationship with a wonderful woman. She has all the qualities that I want. . . honesty, intelligence, integrity, beauty, etc.I found out that she had a past relationship with an older man and the details about it bother me very much. She doesn’t usually drink, but one night she was invited to a bar with her friends by the owner of the bar. The owner of the bar gave her alcohol and convinced her to stay after with him and his bartenders.They continued to give her alcohol and then started to do some freaky things with her like the owner rubbing her legs and the female bartender pulling up her shirt and exposing and touching her breasts. The bartenders then left and took the keys to her car with them which left her stuck with the owner who she ended up having sex with that night.After that night she continued to see him for a while, but he did not treat her very well. I think that she continued to see him because she felt ashamed of what had happened and was trying to make it into a real relationship instead of a cheap one-night-stand. Needless to say it didn’t work out and she regrets that it ever happened.My problem is that I think this guy set her up with his co-bartenders by getting her drunk then took advantage of her low-defense state to have sex with her. To me, it seems like rape and every time I think about it I get furious. I want to get revenge against the guy somehow and I even get mad at her for allowing it to happen. It really is eating me up and I don’t want it to ruin our relationship.Is this rape? Do I have a right to be angry? What can I do to settle this inside me so that it doesn’t continue to eat me up? I really need some help with this one.Thanks.
Whenever a person can’t let go of an issue or feeling it means that there is a deeper, unrecognized issue afoot.First of all you have a right to whatever you feel. And, just because you feel a certain way doesn’t mean you have to do anything with the feeling. Acting on your rage by taking revenge will accomplish nothing except getting your rocks off, which may release the tension inside you, but will do nothing for bringing you closer to understand yourself and why you are so worked up.In fact, if you discharge the rage by taking action you will lose a golden opportunity to find out more about why the feelings are arising. If you’re ready to sit with your feelings, then let’s begin.My first observation is that it seems like you are substituting yourself for your girlfriend. In fact, you are even angrier than she is, and she’s the one who was violated!The reason for this is because you are caught in an unconscious identification with her. And, when an identification occurs, the unconscious mind feels as if what happens to the other guy (or gal) is actually happening to you. The question is why would your mind be doing this to you?I think you are so strongly identified with her because your own feelings of victimization have surfaced. In other words, I suspect that you felt violated at some point, or at many points in your life, and you felt impotent to do anything about it.The fact that you feel impelled to take revenge on her behalf says more about how much revenge you wanted–but couldn’t take–on your own behalf way back when.At this point it would be helpful for you to understand how this incident has touched off feelings stemming from your own history. If I had to guess I would say that you were abused as a kid and also felt that you couldn’t defend yourself. When you make the link, I think you will feel more at peace.As for why you are angry at your girlfriend for allowing herself to be mistreated, I think again that we are dealing with your identification with her. You see yourself in her and you are angry at yourself for not having stood up to your abusers.I hope this explains what I think is going on for you. If you focus on yourself and your own issues, you should be able to begin the healing process and eventually find peace over this issue.