Hi Dr. Turndorf!A month ago I was raped by my sister’s boyfriend. My boyfriend of 3 years seemed to be handling it ok, and I was coping.However, we have begun having many problems since then: he wants me to open up and talk to him, but when I do, he gets angry. And then he interperets my silence as being angry at him. He doesn’t understand my feelings of guilt and told me that I must really like being the victim because I refuse to move on with my life. He tries to listen, but he can’t handle my messed up emotions.I have become a hermit in my house, only going out when absolutely necessary, since the rape occured. Do people realize how murderous rape is on a relationship? I can’t find any info on the web about coping when the one you’re with is NOT the one who raped you. Do you have any advice for my boyfriend? Or for me? And am I being too hard on him, and expecting too much from him?Thank you for taking the time to read this.Sincerely, Charity
I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you. Not only is a rape’murder’on a relationship, it is downright murder on you.Rape is an act of great violence, and when a person is violated, he/she naturally feels a tremendous amount of rage. The problem with this level of rage is that you have no’place’to put it. You can’t kill the man who wronged you. That’s why you need to find an outlet for your feelings. Hiding out in the house isn’t an outlet.You say that you can’t handle your messed up emotions, what this means is that your psyche is breaking into pieces precisely because all that rage is shattering you. You need to enter therapy now, individual and group therapy would be ideal. You need to be able to talk about your rage and all your other feelings.Your boyfriend isn’t trained to handle your feelings. Meanwhile, he has feelings of his own that need to be addressed. He is also enraged and, since he doesn’t have a place to put his feelings (he can’t kill the guy who raped you) he is, unfortunately, displacing (misdirecting) his rage back onto you. I am sure that some of your rage is getting misdirected onto him as well, hence the two of you are at each other ‘s throats.When he says that he wants you to open up and talk to him, we need to understand more about what he is looking for. What does he want you to say? Does he want details of the rape. This may be his way of trying to work through the feelings he has by revisiting the trauma? Is he asking you to talk because he thinks that it will help you? When you do talk does he find himself overwhelmed and at a loss regarding how to respond to you? Does he then become frustrated by his impotence and snap at you?You need to ask him why he thinks he’s becoming so angry at you when you do open up. He needs to identify the source of his feelings and talk about that. We can only guess at the source of his rage. He is surely furious at the guy and displacing the rage back onto you. He is also angry at the universe for dumping this burden on him. He may also be mad at you for bringing this burden upon him.Remember, feelings are irrational. Both of you start therapy now. Couples therapy would also be good so that he can learn how to listen to you and respond properly. He also needs to learn how to properly communicate his own feelings, and not just dump on you.Books are great. They can help you feel less alone. They can help you realize that your feelings are normal. But, you need to be able to talk to another live body and be responded to. A book can’t give you that.You asked about sources on the web. I assume you are looking for chat rooms geared specifically to rape survivors. I am not familiar with any such thing, but I am sure that if you search that you will find a chat room that applies. Again, don’t let any of these activities be a substitute for therapy.Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you both progress.