Rape Myth #7: He doesn't look like a rapist and "He's my friend he can't be a rapist, I'd know."
He doesn't look like a rapist does he? He's smiling with his lovely wife. But he is. DNA evidence from multiple victims convicted this man as a serial rapist in England. The Thursday rapist, from 1998 until 2006 he attacked women ranging in age from 12 years old on up, there are no ages given for his adult victims. On the Thursdays that he was out assaulting other women, his wife thought he was tinkering on cars, and was grateful for a night to watch whatever she wanted on the television.
When I go back through my high school yearbooks, and see the picture of the guy who raped me, I am frequently struck by how very young and child-like he looks to me now. We were fifteen when he raped me, and he looked his age. He was also on the varsity football team, and had no shortage of girls to to choose from. In fact, after he raped then dumped me, he immediately took up with another girl, who managed to escape unscathed. I never told her he'd raped me, but he'd been asshole-ish enough to her without rape that she thought she understood what I was going through. After she dumped him, for pressuring her about sex, she sought me out.
The fact remains that you cannot tell if someone is going to be a rapist just by looking at them. If you could, the rape rate would be a lot lower. You just can't. It doesn't work that way.
And like I said in the last post, and will undoubtedly say again. I know that no one wants to admit that someone they like, respect and hang out with is a rapist or even could be a rapist. Hell, even after someone I knew admitted to rape in front of me, while denying it was rape, I didn't want to believe it. And I actually caught myself thinking for a second, "If she hadn't wanted it, why did she stay the night?" And this was with KNOWING that she was too drunk to drive home and that was the only reason she'd stayed there. She said no, and he didn't respect that. He got upset at her for crying afterward. And she'll never press charges, possibly because she blames herself for what happened, possibly because she knows her chances of getting any sort of justice are extremely nil. They'd dated, they'd had sex before...
And realize, that this is from a conversation with HIM. She never said a word to me or anyone I knew about this. Period. And he to this day does not believe there was anything wrong with what he did. Nope.
And part of this is not wanting to acknowledge that if he'll rape someone else, you're at risk, too, from someone you let into your home, who you have hugged, who you've maybe even made out with or had consensual sex with. You don't want to believe that this guy you trust would ever turn that trust against you or someone else. It's a sickening feeling and realization when someone you trust turns out not to be who you thought they were. It really is sick-making. It hurts a lot, and it's fucking scary when you realize, "I was alone with X so many times..." "If I had said no, would he have forced me anyway?"
One of the reasons getting into arguments with people about this, about the myth that women are running around higgledy-piggledy accusing men of rape without a care in the world, about the fact that sometimes otherwise decent people do amazingly shitty things if they think they can get away with it, or don't even consider those things to be shitty things, is that some of the hidden attitudes toward women that surface in these arguments frighten me. The idea that people I hang out with on a regular basis could think that the minute my ass sets one foot in their apartment/bedroom/car, I've committed to having sex with them should they decide they want it regardless of whether or not I want to, scares the holy fucking hell out of me, particularly when some of these guys might actually be able to take me in a fight. Or even if they themselves wouldn't do such a thing, that they would think it understandable or permissable for someone else to do that to me or any woman, it scares me.
Because underlying that is the reality that they really don't have my back. That someone could hurt me again, and they would blow it off because I was "asking for it." It's the fear that they really don't see me as a full human being who should be allowed to dictate who has access to her body.
And while in a lot of these cases, I strongly suspect that they would have my back, what is it that makes me different from those other women? Is it like my racist uncle who drops the N-bomb constantly but says, "I'm not racist, I have a black friend?"
I don't know. I just know that I worry, even if they do have my back now, what would it take for me to slip into that category with "other women" and lose that support.