Defriending My Rapist
January 16, 2012 7:48 PM   Subscribe


 
the very first thing i did upon joining facebook was to add my rapists to my block list. they're the only people i block and i've never regretted that choice. i understand the curiosity, i understand the urge to make it right or get some closure or even some acknowledgement - but in the end, they got to tell me all sorts of untrue things then, i don't really need to hear it all again now.
posted by nadawi at 7:54 PM on January 16, 2012 [35 favorites]


Heavy stuff.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:56 PM on January 16, 2012


I felt glad that she sent him that message, but felt weird at everything else she did. Why would she friend his wife?

I don't do well with confessional "Modern Love" type writing. I think it makes me feel so sorry for the author that I can't stand it.
posted by anniecat at 7:59 PM on January 16, 2012


No doubt this POS is now polluting his daughter's mind with crap like, "Boys only want one thing."
posted by leotrotsky at 8:00 PM on January 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


That was a pretty well-restrained and pithy private message she sent him. I don't think I'd be able to exercise the same level of restraint.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:01 PM on January 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


When I clicked on the link I thought it said, "Defending my rapist" and wondered why there weren't 200 comments already.

Nice piece. Thanks for posting it SkylitDrawl.
posted by mreleganza at 8:09 PM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why would she friend his wife?

She made it clear in the article that friending his wife was part of a plan to divulge to her the dirty secret from her husband's past. But she decided against that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:09 PM on January 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


add my rapists to my block list.

i'm not a naive person by any stretch, but it makes me very sad that this is plural.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:10 PM on January 16, 2012 [80 favorites]


count down to when the rapist is outed... I'd say getting a nytimes blog post is better, and more likely to be effective, revenge than telling a wife who may be reluctant to believe a stranger. Way to go.
posted by Shit Parade at 8:24 PM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I clicked on the link I thought it said, "Defending my rapist"

Yeah, I read it the same way.

I wonder how difficult it would be to figure out who this guy was based on the description given. There can't be too many married guys with pot bellies, and two teenage children within 1 degree of separation from her via her high-school friends. I don't think people realize that with all the social network tools and Google and everything giving a brief description of someone can actually identify them really well.

I wonder if this guy realized who she was when he accepted her request. I wonder, did she post a link to this on her wall? If so, anyone who's friends with her would have seen the add request and removal in their feed. His wife would have seen the removal.

So anyway, interesting story. It's interesting how FB's algorithms have no way of distinguishing the difference between 'connectedness' and 'friendship'.
posted by delmoi at 8:24 PM on January 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some of the details might be fudged - he might be more than one degree away, have two daughters and no son, etc.

Hell of a piece.
posted by rtha at 8:27 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was a pretty well-restrained and pithy private message she sent him. I don't think I'd be able to exercise the same level of restraint.

Indeed. It would have been so easy to post the rape allegation to his wall, his friends' walls, to send messages to his wife, his daughter, to find out his workplace and write to them.

The unsupported allegation alone could have caused him so much torment. I don't think I would have been able to restrain myself, in her position. I hope she has found some peace.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:30 PM on January 16, 2012


delmoi:If so, anyone who's friends with her would have seen the add request and removal in their feed. His wife would have seen the removal.

I've seen adds on a news feed, but never a deletion. Is that new? Dropping people on FB is like the Orwellian memory hole in my experience; it's like they were never there at all.
posted by dr_dank at 8:37 PM on January 16, 2012


It would have been so easy to post the rape allegation to his wall, his friends' walls, to send messages to his wife, his daughter, to find out his workplace and write to them.

Unfortunately, then you're in libel / slander / defamation territory & potentially up for a massive lawsuit unless you can prove that the event actually took place (the "truth defence"). Given the time involved since the offence, that would be somewhat of a challenge.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:48 PM on January 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder if he even saw it. Messages from someone you're not friends with go into an "other messages" mailbox lots of people aren't aware of. I don't know how facebook handles if you send while friends and then defriend after.
posted by Diablevert at 8:56 PM on January 16, 2012


Amazing story. The saddest part for me was that she did not/could not tell anyone - including her parents - for so long.
posted by greenhornet at 9:00 PM on January 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


anyone who's friends with her would have seen the add request and removal in their feed

FB now shows friend deletions in the feed?
posted by vidur at 9:02 PM on January 16, 2012


Not that I'm aware of. FB doesn't even show the individual being defriended that information as an item in their feed. Or anywhere, for that matter. Nor add requests. Only actual "friendings" and then only if you have your privacy settings set to show that information.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:07 PM on January 16, 2012


Her post was so upsetting. What upsets me more, though, is that this story has been true for so many of my friends and me. Many people have had their rapists show up in their suggested friends lists - and others have actually had the rapists request to be friends. While it's more common with school networks, I've also heard of it happening where there's a chain of gmail or Yahoo mail contacts that eventually lead back to the person - FB algorithms being what they are and all. For many survivors, it's extremely triggering and feels incredibly invasive, as even replying back to tell the person to take a hike can reveal some of your Facebook info to them, so you're stuck in the position of ignoring them or getting them blocked without having a chance to tell them where to go.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:12 PM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gang-raped at 13, and not able to tell anyone about it or get any legal redress. It's greatly to this woman's credit that she has been able to deal as well as she has.
posted by orange swan at 9:13 PM on January 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


I couldn't figure out why this sounded so familiar until I remembered this 2009 Jezebel piece commenting on this letter to Cary Tennis of Salon. The Jezebel piece refers to the William Beebe/Liz Seccuro case, too.

Awful. Awful and everywhere.
posted by gingerest at 9:17 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, that was very difficult to read. I can't imagine the courage it took just to write that.

I wanted to hate him and hurt him but realized that the only way to be free was to let it all go. When I defriended him I felt strong. The past was the past, and my mouth wasn’t covered anymore.

I wish she would have talked a little more about this. I wonder, in the age of facebook where you can go back and find these people who did completely atrocious things to you, if it was in the end helpful for her to send him the message (which I agree that I don't know if I could have shown such restraint, given the opportunity), or if it would have been better to just not have had access to him at all. I guess the question is: facebook just won't let you forget or move on from horrible people and events from your past. Is it better that we get to address them now, years later, to try and find closure? Or would it be better to just never look back. Perhaps it doesn't matter, since we don't really get the choice.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:44 PM on January 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some of the details might be fudged - he might be more than one degree away, have two daughters and no son, etc.

Man I hope nobody within 1 degree DOES meet the criteria, especially if she fudged it.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:08 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think people realize that with all the social network tools and Google and everything giving a brief description of someone can actually identify them really well.

Of all the issues reading this raised for me, protecting her rapist from being identified was not one of them.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:52 PM on January 16, 2012 [36 favorites]


And the truth will set us all free.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 11:31 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some of the details might be fudged - he might be more than one degree away, have two daughters and no son, etc.
Or, they may not be. If you remember way back when, this NYT writer decided to bitch about her nanny having a blog. She included full quotes, which of course would have made it easy for.
FB now shows friend deletions in the feed?
Yeah, probably not. They would have seen the addition, depending on however it is FB decides what's 'newsworthy' about your friends.

Anyway, I'm thinking more about someone with either 1) A lot of time on their hands or 2) 'sophisticated' analysis tools, like the stuff HBGary was trying to sell (although I think that was mostly the CEO with a lot of time on his hands).

Let's say this woman played some online game or used a Facebook app frequently. FB makes your friends list available at even the most basic authorization levels.

So, someone could monitor her friends list for changes. Had someone been doing that, it would have been easy for them who was recently added.

And forget the kids. She added the guy, then she added his wife. How many couples did she add husband first, then wife, in the past few months? Guy connected through high school friends?

---

I've actually had someone (from highschool) show up in my 'suggested friends' list who I thought hated me. I didn't really have a problem with her, she didn't like me because I had complained a friend of hers. I thought about adding her but never did. Then one day she adds me. We ended up chatting a little and talked at our high school reunion.

(Obviously, that doesn't compare to this at all)
posted by delmoi at 11:46 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose by some convoluted process she may have outed her rapist, but in so roundabout a fashion that it would be difficult for him to try to go after her for libel ...

I'm failing to see the downside to this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:49 PM on January 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Of all the issues reading this raised for me, protecting her rapist from being identified was not one of them.

If I were more cynical I would more seriously entertain the notion that accusations of gang rape would probably fall under defamation and libel exposing the writer and the nytimes to damages if the actual individual were named, however the writer seemingly gets to have her cake and eat it too by simply pointing without saying... very convenient. I'm just saying -- I don't really want to get into the politics of it, but throwing around rape accusations and skirting the fact that you might very well have outed the person without actually, legally, outing them, seems somewhat disingenuous -- now my strong presumption is this person changed a number of basic details to make it nigh impossible to actually identify the individual (or all 5) in question -- but allegations of rape isn't exactly the sort of thing you toss off because you have a 500 word deadline to finish.

Another side to consider is maybe the writer wasn't the victim, but is merely reporting another woman, perhaps a friend or even a conversation she overheard on the subway, but the job of any writer is to reflect contemporaries and as the nadawi above first wrote, this isn't a unique phenomenon -- facebook is huge and sadly rape is much more prevalent than most people want to acknowledge (or continually keep in mind -- it is like walking around never forgetting that 17,000 kids died today of starvation today) -- and the question for the writer becomes one of transmission, how to effectively communicate a very real social occurence.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:09 AM on January 17, 2012


but allegations of rape isn't exactly the sort of thing you toss off because you have a 500 word deadline to finish. --Shit Parade

Eponysterical. Also, you are characterising this as a hastily written piece and ascribing motive to the writer with zero basis. Your argument is founded on nothing but your own bias.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:24 AM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think it may be worthwhile to point out that the essay is not by a NYT writer:

Townies, a series about life in New York — and occasionally other cities — written by the novelists, journalists and essayists who live there, appears on Thursdays. This week features an essay by Dorri Olds, a freelance writer, Web designer and social-media consultant.

So we don't need to wonder if she may have "tossed it off" because of a deadline.
posted by taz at 12:52 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whether she changed the details or not, the rapists know who they are and what they did. If their consciences aren't tormenting them, then they haven't learned remorse, or changed very much. And if people in their mutual circles want to sleuth, the rapists deserve the social consequences of their silence and failure to attempt amends, given they haven't had any legal consequences.

Everywhere I go in my business, academic, or religious communities, I wonder if I will encounter the grown-up kids who humiliated me socially and beat me, repeatedly, to hospitalization. Because we're still in the same demographics and subcommunities. Or the former teachers, administrators, counselors, and other adults, who stood by and listened, and watched me being hit until I bled, broke bones, or passed out, while they did nothing except blame me for being weird enough, angry enough, (queer enough) to deserve it. Year after year after year, school after school.

In spite of my IT career and progressive networking, I generally avoid social media for fear the bullies will find me again. I may be a big activist now, with organizations, successful campaigns, and queer partners to my name, but what will I do facing the perpetrators again? When I have, they never seem to remember what they did or witnessed.

Shaming them now won't make me less afraid. *Only making the world safer, kinder, and more tolerant makes me less afraid*
posted by Dreidl at 1:00 AM on January 17, 2012 [29 favorites]


A sadly familiar story (previously).
posted by bfootdav at 1:38 AM on January 17, 2012


Eponysterical. Also, you are characterising this as a hastily written piece and ascribing motive to the writer with zero basis. Your argument is founded on nothing but your own bias.
Yeah, freelancers typically submit queries, if not full pieces before getting published.
don't really want to get into the politics of it, but throwing around rape accusations and skirting the fact that you might very well have outed the person without actually, legally, outing them, seems somewhat disingenuous
True, but now that I think about it -- people almost always strenuously disagree when people they like are accused of rape. Look at, for example, pretty much any high profile rape case. So someone might think "Hey, is she talking about X?" but then think "No way," or "It was just a fictional story written for cash and shock value, insinuating something about X because he was an easy target and she's a horrible person" or even "It was probably consensual or she's remembering it wrong" That kind of thing.
posted by delmoi at 1:39 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of all the issues reading this raised for me, protecting her rapist from being identified was not one of them.

No... but protecting the guy who sounds vaguely like her rapist probably should be. You know, what with us living in a world where mobs attack paediatricians and all...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 4:08 AM on January 17, 2012


but protecting the guy who sounds vaguely like her rapist probably should be

Nope. That's just a wildly hypothetical victim when we have a real victim right here. And these are not "accusations" or "allegations", this is a woman recounting her experiences. No more shame, no more silence.
posted by Danila at 4:24 AM on January 17, 2012 [27 favorites]


I sometimes have my rapist on my block list and other times remove him from it briefly so I can see what he's doing (usually this means observing some bragging about professional or other successes, which makes me feel like a fucking failure), then back on the block list he goes. (No wife and kids though, but it's only been six and a half years.) He friend-requested me once a few years ago under a pseudonym and ever since then I have had my profile set to not show up in search results for non-friends.

Thanks for posting this article -- I am glad both that the writer got some relief and that there are no overtones here of why-don't-you-just-stay-offline-to-be-safe, which as a survivor on the Internet I am heartily sick of hearing.
posted by bewilderbeast at 4:31 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty befuddled by the idea that anything concretely bad is going to happen to the rapist at all, let alone that her article is going to prompt this violence. All in all, I'm pretty confused by any reaction to this other than "I empathize" or "I sympathize."

If I were more cynical I would more seriously entertain the notion that accusations of gang rape would probably fall under defamation and libel exposing the writer and the nytimes to damages if the actual individual were named, however the writer seemingly gets to have her cake and eat it too by simply pointing without saying... very convenient.

Yeah, how convenient. Her situation is the very ideal of convenience and ease. What a lucky ducky the writer is. She gets gang raped as a teenager, and then years later, she gets to be circumspect about the identities of the young men who attacked her. What a great deal that is for her.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:33 AM on January 17, 2012 [58 favorites]


This is one of the more powerful things I've read in a while, mainly because I did something similar myself recently.

I spoke to my mother a couple of weeks ago and she told me my stepdad, the putrid excuse for a human being who abused me and my siblings, was on facebook. With a sadistic glee, I went looking for him, planning what things I would say to him, plotting things to destroy his life.

Then I saw his picture and something inside me changed. I was filled with impotent rage, there was nothing I could say or do to him that would change what he did to me and I just sat there, looking through his pictures for several hours.

Eventually I decided the best thing I could do was close that tab; I have moved on and done so much in the years since I escaped his abuse and by doing anything involving him I would merely be undoing everything I have spent the past 15 years trying to fix.
posted by DuchessProzac at 4:34 AM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm just saying -- I don't really want to get into the politics of it, but throwing around rape accusations and skirting the fact that you might very well have outed the person without actually, legally, outing them, seems somewhat disingenuous

Until this plague of disingenuousness is driven from our streets; until perpetrators of rape can walk the streets without fear of their victims; until rape survivors are prevented by vague legal threats from sharing even the most abstract details of their experiences, and once again made to understand that this is not something we talk about in public; until then, how can we truly claim to be a modern nation?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:55 AM on January 17, 2012 [26 favorites]


Of all the issues reading this raised for me, protecting her rapist from being identified was not one of them.

No... but protecting the guy who sounds vaguely like her rapist probably should be.


This woman has not identified anyone specifically. I'll bet this article was even vetted by a lawyer. If people take what few biographical details about her rapist that she's provided, that may or may not even be strictly accurate, and actively go looking for someone who matches them, then the onus is on them to take care not to falsely accuse or harass anyone.
posted by orange swan at 6:25 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


very convenient

I'm almost certain this point -- that the ethics of telling a story like this in public are different if you do or don't reveal who the person is, and that if you give too many details, you're in the realm of "did reveal" rather than "didn't reveal" -- could have been made without this kind of phrasing, along with "have her cake and eat it too," that seems to suggest to me that she's somehow ... getting away with something? I mean, I don't think she's merrily gloating over getting to write about being gang-raped as a teenager. I can certainly see the argument that giving away enough identifying details may need to be treated as essentially accusing the person by name, but I don't think it's some kind of craftiness or willful evasion of responsibility on her part.

I see the argument, but the suspicious/condemning language about the writer seems unnecessary.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:27 AM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


That is one of the weird things about social media, to me -- with a couple of clicks, you can be reconnected to people from your distant past, no matter how far you have moved or how much you have changed. I appreciate how she found some healing in the defriending moment, but wonder at how many other people have dealt with the moment of shock from seeing a former abuser's page pop up on a social media site. It's not just the moment of abuse that hurts, it's knowing that the abuser walks away unaffected, while the person who was hurt keeps hurting.
posted by Forktine at 6:40 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just went to friend's facebook profile. She has 838 friends (the author of this piece has over a thousand - yes, I looked). I have no idea how to tell how many people are one degree of separation from my friend - it's, you know, a lot. If she, my friend, added a friend (a thing facebook tells people) and then unadded them (a thing facebook does not reveal, no matter your settings - try it yourself, or get a facebook friend of yours to try it), how would I possibly know, or remember?

We don't know when she did this. I will bet money that none of her friends take screenshots of their fb pages so they have a record of when their friends friended someone. I suppose you could come back through her entire history to see who she friended, and then you could look at each profile of that person to see if he matches the (possibly fudged) details in her essay, but it all seems very unlikely and absurdly difficult. Rest assured, this man is safe from everything save his own conscious, assuming he has one.
posted by rtha at 6:42 AM on January 17, 2012


It's interesting how FB's algorithms have no way of distinguishing the difference between 'connectedness' and 'friendship'.

I've long said that FB's algorithms are designed to point you at the people you least want to connect to: the ones who are tight with all your friends but that you really don't want to be around. (They also misunderstand your closeness with people you see in real life and therefore talk to in person instead of on FB.)

One of the things I've learned about FB and other social media sites is that it's easier for me to just not allow people in my circles. I don't have a story like this one to tell (thank $DEITY) but I've been asked to add exes and other people I don't want in my life. I had to think about it for a while before I said no, because I was socialized in that good Southern gal "be nice to everybody" way. I can understand why the author was curious enough to add the guy in the first place, but I'm glad for her sake she dropped him as well. I hope between that and writing about it, she gets some peace of mind.
posted by immlass at 7:25 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would bet that at least one (and probably more) of her rapists doesn't even remember the incident and if he does, he doesn't think of it as rape--she was asking for it; she was a drunken slut and probably has as hazy a memory of it as I do; it wasn't that big a deal. It was a pivotal event in her life but in the guys'--not so much.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:27 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


the writer seemingly gets to have her cake and eat it too

Yes, rape is a lot like cake.
posted by scody at 8:52 AM on January 17, 2012 [26 favorites]


What upsets me more, though, is that this story has been true for so many of my friends and me. Many people have had their rapists show up in their suggested friends lists - and others have actually had the rapists request to be friends.

Whether she changed the details or not, the rapists know who they are and what they did. If their consciences aren't tormenting them, then they haven't learned remorse, or changed very much.

I would bet that at least one (and probably more) of her rapists doesn't even remember the incident and if he does, he doesn't think of it as rape-

In my experience, sadly, no matter the true story, the one rapists tell themselves about what happened is very different, usually involving a belief that the victim actually was willing. One detail that jumps out at me from her story is that when she had pulled her clothes on and was screaming, the rapists agreed she was "crazy." As in, crazy to have been willing yet now be upset.

We are never going to defeat rape if we don't recognize the incredibly distorted thinking on which it is based, I fear.
posted by bearwife at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


New York removed the statute of limitation on rape (in criminal cases at least, still 5 years for civil)



Doing whatever she needs to do to move on/heal is up to her judgement. If it were to include what might have been done legally at the time, the option is open-
posted by bert2368 at 10:34 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This woman has not identified anyone specifically. I'll bet this article was even vetted by a lawyer. If people take what few biographical details about her rapist that she's provided, that may or may not even be strictly accurate, and actively go looking for someone who matches them, then the onus is on them to take care not to falsely accuse or harass anyone.

Naturally, vigilante action is not OK, but I think the issue here is more that she specifically hasn't identified one particular person, so the obfuscation of details is aimed not at protecting him & the other perpetrators, but at protecting innocent people who might be mistaken for one of the perpetrators.

For example, if she had written "This happened at Rydell High in the summer of 1958, and the guys all wore white t-shirts & leather jackets" then suddenly every last guy who matches that description comes under a cloud of suspicion, which could result in all kinds of undeserved ill effects in their personal & professional lives.

This is a variety of "two wrongs don't make a right".
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2012


"very convenient"

Almost as convenient as the socially enforced fears that allowed four people to gang rape a girl and get away with it. Pretty convenient for them.

Also convenient that FB sort of started out as a misogynist enterprise. She mentions that one of the guys thought her face was ugly (but she had a nice body). Irony.


*Only making the world safer, kinder, and more tolerant makes me less afraid*


From my pov: Only making the world safer, kinder, and more tolerant makes me less enraged.

It's funny, considering what she said to him ( “... I see you have a teenage daughter now...") how delusional many people must be.
Certainly as mentioned above you can't go bearing the all suffering of the world all the time.

A bit ago I took some (physical) risk to help someone out and I was asked why I did that. Not knowing the person, all that. And I said it was because that's the world I wanted to live in.
That's all we need to do is work to create the environment in which we want to live.
If we don't, then we bear some of the responsibility for allowing these things to continue.

So it's particularly poignant that she points out that her rapist has a teenage daughter now who may be subject to the same thing.
I always wonder if people like that, the rapist, believe they're exceptional. That they can do something, inflict something like this on the world - and yes it was done to a 13 year old girl, but the repercussions and reiterations are endless, like dominoes. Hell, we're talking about it here and now. It's affecting us. Our thinking. Perhaps our reactions. It certainly affected the other boys there. And this woman's other relationships. Etc. And displaced aggression is a big demon to run around loose.
So, secular karma maybe.

Whatever the terms, rape, actions like that, have huge repercussions. And it staggers me to think that people believe that they can do something like that and remain unaffected by it. Put that into the world, and never expect it will come back. Even if it never hits them personally in the same way, you just can't shit where you eat. And since we're all human, and particularly since we're so connected (more technologically now), we eat everywhere.

This is not to say that working for a better world renders you immune to harm, but it does protect others. It stops harm from being passed on and on and on in an endless cycle.

So, her comment:
I wanted to hate him and hurt him but realized that the only way to be free was to let it all go.

Strikes me as particularly brave.

Some people aren't self-aware enough to do that. And they inflict horrible things on themselves and each other and spend their lives wondering why they're so miserable.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Interesting that this should pop up today.
Early this morning I had a weird dream in which I had a friendly chat with my ex-boyfriend/rapist (I dated him for 5 years through high school & college. Let's call him Dumbo). I dream about Dumbo from time to time, but this is the first time the interaction was positive. (I think the last time he was in a nightmare, I woke up after I started punching the hell out of him.)

Several months ago, I got a text from one of my best friends from high school (let's call him Abe), who was friends with Dumbo back then as well. Dumbo sent Abe a friend request on FB. Abe and I had fun talking about what he should say to Dumbo, but ultimately the request was ignored and Dumbo was blocked.

I don't think Dumbo would dare try to friend me. I ended the relationship by cheating on him, therefore making him not want me back at all. I haven't seen nor heard from him since late 1995. I guess I got him where it hurt--in the ego.
posted by Val_E_Yum at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2012


i've only ever confronted one of my attackers - the first one, my brother. he had been out of my life for a couple years, but my mom's wish for a "complete" family brought him back around. i saw him once during this time. i also talked to his boyfriend on IM - his boyfriend said that he knew what my brother had done to me and that my brother was sorry. i wanted to move on, to grow up, to stop all of my self hate reactions. i wrote him an email. i tried to make him see that his cruelty had ruined me. i told him about my eating disorder, my cutting, my drinking, my searching for love in places lust didn't even exist. i told him about not sleeping and dropping out of school. i told him about the nightmares. i told him that i wanted to forgive him, but that i needed him to want to be forgiven.

i never heard back from him. a month or so later his boyfriend wrote me and told me that if i ever contacted my brother about this topic again he'd kill me.

i guess that's why i just preemptively blocked them all. i don't need to know how they continue to dodge responsibility. they're never going to give me the closure i need. there's nothing they can give me that will replace what they took.
posted by nadawi at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


Reading that was very painful. FaceBook connections and disconnections can be an interesting journey.

In 1966 I was raped, just having turned 13. I too contacted the rapist years later, hoping for closure. No such luck.

In 1999, the weekend that JFK Jr. crashed in the airplane I learned to use a search engine and email. I looked up the name of the man who raped me at my 'mother's' behest. There was his email address. I decided to confront him by email and asked him if he remembered me. He replied immediately and lasciviously. I wrote back, "Do you remember raping me?" He said he thought I was 16 then (a lie because he sent me a telegram for my 13th birthday at the time), that he was prompted by my 'mother' and that he now worked as some sort of a psychology counselor in a rehab. He also let me know he had been raped by his own father, when he was a child. He said he turned his life around from being the alcoholic he was (I did not remember him being drunk when he stayed as a guest of my 'mother's' - as her lover- for several months in our apartment in NYC in 1966).

In any case I said I would like an apology and he apologized. I wrote that I forgave him.

I asked to speak with him on the phone to hear if he felt genuine remorse but after a few minutes on the phone he made it clear he was still seeing my 'mother', from whom I'd been estranged for decades by then. So I ended the conversation and thought that I had achieved some closure for the miserable and abrupt end of my childhood. He sent a framed photograph he took of flowers, which had the words "Flowers of reconciliation" written on the back.

What actually happened then I found out through legal depositions in 2006, because my younger sister filed a lawsuit against our 'mother', who had also set my sister up to be raped by our stepfather.

The man who raped me had not felt any remorse. In fact, he immediately contacted my 'mother' and reported having communicated with me by email. Tattling. When Vanity Fair contacted him in 2006 about my sister's lawsuit, he was unclear about the statute of limitations for the crime he committed, thought he would be arrested for the rape and furious with my 'mother' for having mentioned his name when she was being deposed.

Once he determined the statute of limitations ran out, he would not be arrested or jailed for the rape he committed, he decided to preempt what he imagined would be the bad press from the Vanity Fair article in which he was mentioned, garner publicity by confessing to the New York Post, not to express regret but, in his words he did not "want [his] 15 minutes of fame to be as some perverted child molester".

Then he went on to write a sickening, packed full of lies version of the rape on his blog, making himself out to be a victim.

So my thoughts are that people who rape are likely to be sociopaths, malignant pathological narcissists, who are not capable of remorse and that any attempt to have a dialogue in which forgiveness might be the hoped for outcome, is not possible.

The wound that happens when a remorseless or continuously sadistic person commits an offense is a particular type of hurt. That wound doesn't heal like other wounds, it remains festering for a very long time and causes tremendous, painful rushes of negative emotions in the person who gets wounded, compounded by friends or family who insist that "the past is the past", "just forget it", "don't dwell on it", "get over it already".

The wounded person has to then find their own way to deal with the pain, literally pay for it in seeking therapy, or legal help, deal with the self-abuse, depression, isolation, fear of intimacy, sense of violation that typically are caused by such festering wounds.

The way I dealt with it so far is what I call rabid dog compassion. The perpetrator has an emotional illness, usually caused by being victimized in their own childhood. So they are stuck in their own emotional purgatory as well. Like a dog that has rabies, I can feel compassion for them but as they will always be dangerous, in no way is contact or any communication safe.

The compassion felt for a rabid human being has an interesting medicinal effect, it allows, in my experience, for the inflicted wound to heal to some degree because sustaining feelings of anger kept the recollection of the event fresh in my thoughts.

The anger towards the perp was and is completely appropriate when thinking of the event. There is a time for feeling the anger. But how to arrive at eventually not thinking of the event? Compassion helped me with that because it does not create the urgent attention internally that anger does and in feeling compassion I can move towards putting the focus on the good in life, the joy, connecting with emotionally healthy, loving friends.
posted by nickyskye at 1:32 PM on January 17, 2012 [20 favorites]


anyone who's friends with her would have seen the add request

I wasn't raped, but a kid terrorized me (e.g. beat me up or threatened to beat me up) every day for a couple of years, until I had a kind of breakdown and my parents found out what was going on. This was in 3rd and 4th grade.

A couple of years ago, the bully popped up on Facebook, and I instantly sent him a friend request, which he accepted. During that period, I was still in the excited honeymoon of discovering everyone from my childhood on Facebook. There was nothing special about me friending ex-bully. I friended everyone that I'd grown up with.

This is very hard for many people to understand, but I am safe from my childhood. I remember things pretty clearly, but they don't generally affect me, other than in a warm, nostalgic way. That didn't used to be the case, but we're talking about 40 years ago. And more recent events have far bypassed ones from my childhood, in terms of emotional content.

I don't forgive the guy. I don't not forgive him, either. I just don't really care all that much that he used to beat me up four decades ago. It's fun to chat with him about teachers we both had and houses in the neighborhood (he lived a block away from me).

But I kind of wish I'd never friended him, because it REALLY upset other people: other people that I care about (much more than I care about the ex-bully, who is just fun to idly chat with sometimes). The guy terrorized a lot of kids, and, totally understandably, many people I know are still traumatized by the memories.

I got showered with "Jesus Christ! Why did you friend that asshole!" and demands that I unfriend him or send him scathing emails. (He seems to have matured over the last 40 years. But I don't blame my friends for not giving a shit about that.) On the one hand, it's my business who I friend. On the other hand, I care about my friends and I'm sorry I hurt them. I honestly didn't think about the fact that other people can see who I friend at that, to them, this literally looked like I was siding with someone who ruined their childhoods.
posted by grumblebee at 2:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


grumblebee, your friends are completely invested in the notion that they are victims of this bully and that their lives were damaged in various ways by this victimization. They've learned to blame everything suboptimal in their lives on this bully, which is comforting to them. Now you come along, and clearly if anyone is an abject victim of this bully then, based on the objective evidence, you are. Yet you don't use your victimization as they do, and you can even interact with the erstwhile bully in a relatively normal fashion—all this is an implicit reproach to them. They perceive it as threatening to their world view (and it is) and as a deliberate attack (which, according to you, it is not). And there's also the group dynamic: you're one of them (nominally), but you're surely not on the same page with them, and, clearly, and it bugs them. It would be surprising if they didn't react as you described.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:31 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my experience, sadly, no matter the true story, the one rapists tell themselves about what happened is very different, usually involving a belief that the victim actually was willing.

I've said this before, but I think many rapists and rape apologists believe that all sex is sex and "rape" is just a perceptual overlay which shades the act, like a gel over a camera lens. Which is why some men live in such fear of the false accusation; in their minds, all sex might be called rape, because they can't see what the difference is except that someone says there is one. These people easily understand that there is a material difference between boxing and an alley fistfight, and that those are not the same thing even though both contain punches, but they do not draw a similar distinction between sex and rape, which is both incorrect and terribly injurious in its ignorance.

It breaks my heart how many of you have the phrase "my rapist" in your lexicon. I'm very sorry.
posted by Errant at 4:03 PM on January 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


Crabby Appleton, it sounds like you are denigrating grumblebee's friends who still are suffering from their childhood wounds of being bullied. It also sounds like you're making a generalization by saying "They've learned to blame everything suboptimal in their lives on this bully". How do you get that from what grumblebee said?

Why don't those people "just forget it", "get over it already"? It sounds like you are accusing them of being "completely invested in the notion that they are victims of this bully" as if being a victim of a bully was a way of getting some sort of benefit. The facts from what grumblebee said are that they were kids, were bullied (" terrorized") by this bully, they still feel angry about that and did not like grumblebee friending the bully.

grumbebee's "friending" of the bully may appear to be a betrayal, siding with the bully by behaving as if nothing happened. It doesn't sound like the bully apologized to anyone, which makes forgiveness more difficult, reconciliation and healing to take place.

When a child is bullied, they have a right to feel angry about that. There is no on-off faucet or timer for a child feeling traumatized by a bully, for being targeted, intimidated, menaced, ganged up on, physically hurt or violated by somebody's deliberate malice. Sometimes those wounds last for life. As an internal defense a child may develop social phobia or profound distrust of others or other reactive defenses, which add to the original trauma.

Not everybody has the emotional strength or even the willingness to go to therapy to dredge up the past with the agenda of healing those kinds of wounds. Some wounds cannot be "just" forgotten.

It sounds like grumblebee has found a way to forget the past pain. On the other hand, sometimes it's important to remember the bad in order to find ways to deal with bullies pro-actively. All too often child bullies don't stop bullying when they come into adulthood.

There are all kinds of bullies and bullying in many different situations.
posted by nickyskye at 4:07 PM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Shit Parade: "however the writer seemingly gets to have her cake and eat it too by simply pointing without saying... very convenient"

What, exactly, is the cake here?
posted by Deathalicious at 5:17 PM on January 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Crabby Appleton, it sounds like you are denigrating grumblebee's friends...

My intention was to help grumblebee understand why his friends had such an intense emotional reaction to something that seemed innocuous to him. Obviously I can't read their minds, but I can make educated guesses, and so I did. The idea that an unwanted "symptom" may persist because it has some (usually unconscious) benefit is pretty standard in psychology. People don't usually get very angry unless they feel threatened in some way. I did not intend to "denigrate" anyone.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:49 PM on January 17, 2012


Which is why some men live in such fear of the false accusation; in their minds, all sex might be called rape, because they can't see what the difference is except that someone says there is one.

Wait, what? The difference is whether or not the sex was consensual.

Also, your boxing/fist-fight analogy seems beside the point.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:53 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't really get the false-rape hysteria. I don't worry about being accused of raping someone, because I don't rape people. It seems just about as likely that I'd be falsely accused of a murder across town, and while that would suck, it's not something I preoccupy myself with because I do my best not to put myself in situations where it looks like I might be murdering someone.
posted by threeants at 11:08 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


>>Which is why some men live in such fear of the false accusation; in their minds, all sex might be called rape, because they can't see what the difference is except that someone says there is one.

>Wait, what? The difference is whether or not the sex was consensual.


Yes, of course. But Errant's point was that many rapists don't see it that way, and neither do the guys who express fear of a false rape accusation. In my world, there's "sex" which involves consent, and "rape" which lacks consent, and the two don't touch. But I've certainly heard guys talk about sex very differently, more like Errant describes; it's a not totally uncommon world view, unfortunately.
posted by Forktine at 5:08 AM on January 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ugh. This article makes my head spin. I remember a woman I used to date who claimed to have been date raped prior to my having met her. She spoke to me a great deal about her date rapist, and it always made me uncomfortable. I mean, I guess the experience made a great impact on her, sure. But what did that mean to me? I had no idea. I didn't know how to process that. We dated for about six months but I ended it. The whole thing was just too weird.

I guess what I'd say is that if you are in a similar position to the OP you should really seek professional help, don't try to date someone and use them as your therapist. You should have someone help you who does not have an agenda in your life. And by agenda, I mean like your mom, your love interest, your best friend, etc. Those people are involved in your life in a way a therapist isn't.
posted by Oso Mocoso at 7:19 AM on January 18, 2012


I'm not unsympathetic, but rape isn't something women do to victimize men.
posted by tel3path at 9:29 AM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Crabby Appleton: "your friends are completely invested in the notion that they are victims of this bully and that their lives were damaged in various ways by this victimization. They've learned to blame everything suboptimal in their lives on this bully, which is comforting to them. "

I don't think that any of these friends are "invested" in any kind of "notion". I think that seeing the bully reminds them of their trauma, which is in itself traumatic.

While I agree it's often comforting to blame your shortcomings on others, I would argue that that is really only comforting in the absence of trauma. "I can't be on time because my mom never taught me discipline" is very different from not being able to form healthy relationships with men because a bully effectively trained you to associate men with violence.

If, as a child, a bully attacks me and damages my ears so that my hearing is affected, then throughout my life I have to deal with not being able to hear very well. I'm not going to like this person and if anyone asks whether I was born hard of hearing, my response is going to be that in fact I was made deaf by a bully. I wouldn't take comfort in the idea that this trauma made me deaf and that it is not simply a lack of willpower that makes me unable to hear.

If, instead, the bully's violence and intimidation "merely" affects my psyche, why exactly am I supposed to be over that as soon as I'm older?

My dad is a psychiatrist. He actually specializes in treating patients with PTSD. He says when people experience trauma, it physically changes their brain chemistry and alters the way that their mind responds to stimuli.

I'm kind of sick of people thinking that other people should just get over things just because it's in their heads.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:55 AM on January 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oso Mocoso: "Ugh. This article makes my head spin. I remember a woman I used to date who claimed to have been date raped prior to my having met her. She spoke to me a great deal about her date rapist, and it always made me uncomfortable. I mean, I guess the experience made a great impact on her, sure. But what did that mean to me? I had no idea. I didn't know how to process that. We dated for about six months but I ended it. The whole thing was just too weird.

I guess what I'd say is that if you are in a similar position to the OP you should really seek professional help, don't try to date someone and use them as your therapist. You should have someone help you who does not have an agenda in your life. And by agenda, I mean like your mom, your love interest, your best friend, etc. Those people are involved in your life in a way a therapist isn't.
"

It's true that it isn't a good idea to put this on a boyfriend, husband, or friend. Especially since they are rarely prepared to give you the support that you might actually need, whereas a therapist (hopefully!) has been trained to deal with this situation.

Still, we live in a culture that makes it somewhat difficult to develop trust in one another, and it may be that she felt that your closeness gave her the comfort and strength to share her experiences.

I hope that you at least told her that you felt you weren't suited to deal with her problem and encouraged her to see a therapist about it.

Also, if someone says they were date raped, then they said they were date raped. They didn't "claim" that they were date raped. Seems lke whenever rape or sexual harassment is concerned, suddenly the word "claimed" is more appropriate than "said". Don't usually hear it for other life experiences: "I met a woman who claimed she traveled to Italy." "I once dated a woman who claimed she once owned a dog." "My ex-girlfriend claimed she ate a tasty sandwich."
posted by Deathalicious at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


Oso Mocoso - maybe you should get cards made up that say "your rape makes me uncomfortable and it has nothing to do with me, so i'd rather not hear about it." you'll probably find that all survivors would steer far clear of dating you. plus, you'd let these poor women know how lacking in empathy you are right up front. everybody wins!
posted by nadawi at 11:40 AM on January 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I don't really get the false-rape hysteria. I don't worry about being accused of raping someone, because I don't rape people. It seems just about as likely that I'd be falsely accused of a murder across town,

I'm with you there. Caesar's wife, all that. I've never been in a situation even remotely close to that. I can't imagine I'd ever be accused.

Murder across town... different story.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:57 PM on January 18, 2012


[Folks, if your issue is some variant of "WTF MetaFilter" that sort of thing needs to go to MetaTalk and not here. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:54 PM on January 18, 2012



Also, if someone says they were date raped, then they said they were date raped. They didn't "claim" that they were date raped. Seems lke whenever rape or sexual harassment is concerned, suddenly the word "claimed" is more appropriate than "said". Don't usually hear it for other life experiences: "I met a woman who claimed she traveled to Italy." "I once dated a woman who claimed she once owned a dog." "My ex-girlfriend claimed she ate a tasty sandwich."


Great, comparing rape with a tasty sandwich. Look, rape is about as taboo as gets and because it is a serious crime which can destroy lives, including those who are mistakenly labeled as a rapist, then accusations of rape isn't idle matter. What if the op-ed was about witnessing a murder and then becoming facebook friends of the murderer?
posted by Shit Parade at 11:21 PM on January 19, 2012


Well, what if she had witnessed a murder? Please complete that thought.
posted by tel3path at 12:04 AM on January 20, 2012


Great, comparing rape with a tasty sandwich.

That's not what happened and it's incredibly disingenuous of you to say otherwise. I'm pretty sure you know that, but I'm hoping you just misread.
posted by Errant at 5:16 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Shit Parade: "Great, comparing rape with a tasty sandwich. Look, rape is about as taboo as gets and because it is a serious crime which can destroy lives, including those who are mistakenly labeled as a rapist, then accusations of rape isn't idle matter. What if the op-ed was about witnessing a murder and then becoming facebook friends of the murderer?"

Look, if I met someone who said, "I was murdered." then I would definitely relate it as "She claimed to have been murdered." Okay?
posted by Deathalicious at 7:27 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, if I met someone who said, "I was murdered." then I would definitely relate it as "She claimed to have been murdered." Okay?

You would be less flip about this once you realize that you are dead, and we are all dead, and that you are a ghost, and that we are all ghosts.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:29 AM on January 20, 2012


Great, comparing rape with a tasty sandwich. Look, rape is about as taboo as gets and because it is a serious crime which can destroy lives, including those who are mistakenly labeled as a rapist, then accusations of rape isn't idle matter.

Long Island has a population of about 7.5 million. It was less heavily populated in 1973, I imagine, but not hugely so. Two of the more populous boroughs of New York City are on Long Island.

This isn't fricking Allen Island. It isn't Arrowsic Island. It isn't even Rhode Island. It's Long Island.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:07 AM on January 20, 2012


(Which is to say, in case it wasn't clear: if you think that, based on an identifier as vague as "four young men living on Long Island in 1973, one or more of whom may have owned leather jackets", innocent men are going to find themselves in the last act of The Crucible, you are probably worrying about the wrong thing. For starters.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:35 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Look, if I met someone who said, "I was murdered." then I would definitely relate it as "She claimed to have been murdered." Okay?

If you were actually an honest interlocuter your example would read "she claims to have witnessed a murder", but hey it's cool. Rock on.

and ROSF: for starters try reading the link and the thread. k, thx, bye.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2012


If you were actually an honest interlocuter your example would read "she claims to have witnessed a murder", but hey it's cool. Rock on.

I think you missed the joke embedded in the idea of someone saying that they themselves had been murdered, but hey, it's cool. Rock on.
posted by scody at 3:14 PM on January 21, 2012


I didn't miss the joke, of course it was a joke about something which wasn't said... but yeah, let's be hip and make jokes and treat rape ironically, very cool. Anyway trying to have a discussion at this point is like beating a dead horse.

/headshake
posted by Shit Parade at 3:29 PM on January 21, 2012


Yeah, Shit Parade, but that's not how we report statements made by people we believe. Whether they tell us they witnessed a murder, a rape, or a new Italian restaurant opening down the street. I severely doubt you go around saying "Jenny claims that she tried a new hair salon and she claims she got her roots done. Patrice claims she was in a car accident."
posted by prefpara at 4:15 PM on January 21, 2012


Shit Parade: Great, comparing rape with a tasty sandwich.

Shit Parade: the writer seemingly gets to have her cake and eat it too by simply pointing without saying... very convenient. I'm just saying

Eponysterical.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:45 PM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think you're missing the fact that when a person with over a thousand Facebook friends writes about her rape and says she's blocked her rapist from her Friends list, it's not an accusation of rape. Even her classmates are probably not going to be able to pick this guy out based on the facts he has pics of his kids and his wedding on Facebook, and he wore a leather jacket in 1973. People have a right to share narratives about their own experiences.
posted by gingerest at 8:44 PM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


My "witnessing a murder" analogy was to suggest whether we would believe incredible claims without proof in a weekend nytimes oped, apparently some believe whatever they read in the gray lady.

a thousand friends isn't a million and narrowing it down by the wives she friends of and not husbands will lower that list significantly, cross index it with age and whereabouts and, unless she changed details, it would make it a very short list.

and how is that not an accusation of rape -- indeed it isn't a legally enforced one, but then she might actually have to engage with the consequences of libel and defamation, but she could garnish the social fruits of revenge and disapprobation, so yeah, her cake and eating it too. but snark on dudes.

I guess I should apologize for being one of the few in this thread who actually takes rape, and rape accusations, seriously.

running order squabble fest

Eponysterical. etc etc, yawn.

posted by Shit Parade at 12:24 AM on January 22, 2012


I guess I should apologize for being one of the few in this thread who actually takes rape, and rape accusations, seriously.


Shit Parade, I have a feeling that you don't understand the impression that you are making here - certainly on me, and I would suspect on others - based on what you are saying. Let me try to run through it for you, to make sure we're on the same page, qua reading the room.

The interesting thing about your statement is that it is sort of true. You clearly take rape seriously. What is unusual is that you are giving the impression that you see actually having been raped as far from the most serious consequence of rape.

So, you start by suggesting that the writer may simply be a liar:
Another side to consider is maybe the writer wasn't the victim, but is merely reporting another woman, perhaps a friend or even a conversation she overheard on the subway
However, regardless of the truth of her account, she is potentially ruining the life or lives of a thus far totally hypothetical set of men who might find themselves suspected of having perpetrated the (possibly fictitious) rape.

So, it looks like what you take seriously about rape is the risk that one or more men might be inconvenienced by a woman talking about having been raped. Not accusing somebody of raping her, not naming names beyond suggesting that her attacker lived in the most heavily populated island of the biggest city in the United States in 1973, and was briefly one of the many, many Facebook friends a social media consultant might cycle through. Not even expecting that there is any possibility that there would ever be a chance of securing a conviction for a rape that took place nearly 40 years ago.

What you are concerned about is somebody just talking about having been raped. That's what you seem to want to stamp out, here. Because you thinks that the victim of a rape is going to
garnish the social fruits of revenge and disapprobation
This is the other thing you appear to feel is the thing about rape that should be taken seriously - the imaginary benefits that might accrue to its victims.

So, yes. Eponysterical, but not really funny.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:54 AM on January 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, you start by suggesting that the writer may simply be a liar:
Another side to consider is maybe the writer wasn't the victim, but is merely reporting another woman, perhaps a friend or even a conversation she overheard on the subway
I certainly didn't start with this suggestion, and glossing my paragraph as saying the writer is a liar is poor reading comprehension. I've repeated, many times, that I am under the strong assumption that the writer has changed multiple details or has further distanced herself from the story (such as reporting on the behalf of a friend) so as to make the possibility of identifying the 5 rapists impossible, or near impossible.

Should I repeat myself again? I've repeated, many times, that I am under the strong assumption that the writer has changed multiple details or has further distanced herself from the story (such as reporting on the behalf of a friend) so as to make the possibility of identifying the 5 rapists impossible, or near impossible.

If however she hasn't done that, then it is unethical to use the major national newspaper of America as your mouth peace to attack your rapist -- even if he is in fact your rapist -- without exposing yourself to the risks a rape allegation can generate. This is a very simple point that people, all to often caught in the throws of rape hysteria, often seem to forget or deny as ultimately unimportant, when in fact it is what separates a society of laws from one of mob justice and brutality.

And for the record, rape is awful, god awful, and so is being falsely imprisoned for a rape allegation or having your professional and social life destroyed because of a false rape accusation. Which is worse? Does it matter? Both are awful, reminds me of a Chris Rock bit where he says when he and his Jewish friends get together they like to play "who has suffered more" -- and choosing one side or the either seems, to me, grossly bias and disgustingly unethical.

So yeah, sorry again if my very first comment and reaction wasn't one of "burn that motherfucking rapist!" but then again I like to live in a society with laws.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2012


"a thousand friends isn't a million and narrowing it down by the wives she friends of and not husbands will lower that list significantly, cross index it with age and whereabouts and, unless she changed details, it would make it a very short list.

and how is that not an accusation of rape"

I have about 150 Facebook friends. I would say about a quarter to a third of them are male high school and college classmates. (I include college because my HS had about 300 people, which is way-out-on-the-curve-small.) You would be hard-pressed to identify a single one using the details "photo with daughter and son, wedding photo, photo with beer, wore a leather jacket". Especially if it was someone notable only by his absence from the list. No one is being identified, here! It's a blind item.

You are really reaching for this to be an accusation, and if you want a narrative like this quashed on those grounds, I contend you don't take rape seriously at all.
posted by gingerest at 2:20 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've repeated, many times, that I am under the strong assumption that the writer has changed multiple details or has further distanced herself from the story (such as reporting on the behalf of a friend) so as to make the possibility of identifying the 5 rapists impossible, or near impossible.

Right. You've repeated that you think that what she has written is in some way deviant from the factual record. Apparently, in your world it is more ethical to misrepresent facts without notification in the NYT than it is to represent them accurately. Then again, in your world people have long conversations about how they were raped when they were 13 on the subway for the benefit of the person sitting next to them:
Another side to consider is maybe the writer wasn't the victim, but is merely reporting another woman, perhaps a friend or even a conversation she overheard on the subway
For reference, this isn't a thing that happens in the actual world.

What I imagine has happened in the actual world is that the NYT's lawyers have decided that there is no way the NYT would be liable as a result of publishing this level of detail on an event that took place in 1973. Because they are lawyers in the actual world.

And for the record, rape is awful, god awful, and so is being falsely imprisoned for a rape allegation or having your professional and social life destroyed because of a false rape accusation. Which is worse? Does it matter?

Again, here in the actual world, one of those things has happened, and one of those things has not. Nobody has been falsely imprisoned. Nobody's professional and social life has been destroyed, outside your demented imaginings. So, the question is "Which is worse? An actual rape, or Shit Parade's demented imaginings?".

Don't get me wrong - your demented imaginings are awful. But not in the same way.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:39 PM on January 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let me think this through for you gingerest:

1000 friends. We are looking for the husband of a wife she is friends with but not the husband.

Step 1) Look at only women -- this will cut the list down to ~500
Step 2) Look at only married women -- Perhaps in half again ~250
Step 3) Look at only married women who she is friends with but not their Husbands -- want to say 1 out of 5? ~50
Step 4) of those who have kids in the appropriate genders and ages -- again 1 out of 5? ~10

Of those 10 how many are in the appropriate age group and went to a high school on long island? perhaps 2?

I contend, ginderest, that you a) don't think thinks through very clearly, and/or 2) don't actually read what I write.

And I never said I want this narrative quashed (I've defended it's power and utility multiple times), all I ever wrote, and I find it a trifling point, that the assumption is she has changed multiple details of her account -- the amount of push-back I am getting on this is astounding and somewhat disheartening. Justice for some, but not for all it seems.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:40 PM on January 22, 2012


Thanks ROSF -- perhaps next you want to tell I'm not a real boy, only an imaginary one. The fact that you are willing to fully believe an oped piece -- and that not one single fact was changed, tells me all I need to know about the world you live in.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:45 PM on January 22, 2012


all I ever wrote, and I find it a trifling point, that the assumption is she has changed multiple details of her account

This is a lie. Here is something you wrote:

Another side to consider is maybe the writer wasn't the victim, but is merely reporting another woman, perhaps a friend or even a conversation she overheard on the subway

I do not know why you are seeking to misrepresent your previous statements, but given that your imaginings revolve around the dangers of a false accusation, it's probably not a great tack to take.

Notwithstanding: the NYT has published this in good faith as an account of something which has happened to the writer. The NYT's lawyers have decided that there is no measurable risk to the publication in doing so. They have decided that the article as written does not constitute defamation or libel, nor does it contain enough detail to make any confident identification. It is possible that you are imagining things that the NYT's lawyers did not imagine. For example, in your Sherlock Parade act, you say:

We are looking for the husband of a wife she is friends with but not the husband.

Somebody who read the piece without your very particular lens would notice that there is no statement in the piece saying that she has remained Facebook friends with the wife. Therefore, the set would involve every woman she had friended in 2011 (assuming that detail had not been changed, as you believe it might) - and one would of course also have to get hold of that information.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:38 PM on January 22, 2012


I'm not lying, and reporting for another is a changing of her account. If you necessarily need to believe that as a writer she must stay utterly factual than you're a sillier fool than I had first supposed. But of course you begun this thread more interested in rhetoric than discussion, so I'm done, you've wasted enough of my time. Thanks.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:46 PM on January 22, 2012


Shit Parade: I'm not lying, and reporting for another is a changing of her account.

Reporting for another means it isn't her account. This piece, conversely, is clearly represented as her account, and certain elements clearly relate the account to her own life - the use of the first person narrative, obviously, and also the name of her partner. I assume you do not work in journalism, and do not understand the implications of what you are suggesting.

Notwithstanding: if she has reported the events of 1973 accurately and as they happened to her, but changed details around the specificities of the content on Facebook, I don't see what you're worrying about - the notional innocent who happens to match the profile will be unfindable, because the profile is itself fictitious.

Of course, there's another set of problems with your imaginings. Let's look at some Justice Department numbers. There were 89-90,000 rapes reported by women in 2008. That's not to mention the unreported rapes, naturally. But let's focus on those 90,000. The arrest rate coming out of those 89-90,000 reported rapes was around 25% - 22,584 arrests.

New York City is actually much better on arrests in this period - the NYPD arrest rate was 70%. However, this was primarily because of the aggressive processing of rape kits and the gathering of forensic evidence.

In this particular case, there is no forensic evidence. So, the chance of an arrest being made - in particular without the cooperation of the victim - is effectively zero, and the chance of a prosecution yet smaller. The chance of a wrongful conviction is therefore zero, because the chance of any conviction is zero. Outside your demented imaginings, nobody would ever be arrested, much less prosecuted, much less imprisoned - rightfully or wrongfully. The only likely way there would even be an arrest is if one or more of the people involved turned themselves in.

There's still your fear that someone's life will be ruined by an accusation - that somebody will comb through every detail of this story (without making the same mistakes you have), comb through all the writer's current Facebook friends, hack her account in order to check if she defriended any women in 2011, search her wall for sideways smiley faces, hack Facebook to see if the writer deleted any sideways smiley faces posted to her wall in 2011, friend anyone fitting the profile, search through their Facebook photo albums, gauge to what extent each suspect's son has his nose and how silky his daughter's hair is (one might need to hack the Facebook servers again at this point, but this will presumably be a formality) and then make an incorrect accusation. I mean, that might happen.

At which point I guess that would need to be dealt with. It seems like in the event of an incorrect identification it would again be relatively easy for the writer to set the record straight. It also seems relatively unlikely that this would happen, and if it did the person who did it would be far more likely to spend time in jail than the person he or she accused.

In the case of a correct identification - well, see above regarding effectively no risk of arrest, and no risk of prosecution. Somebody might have to deal with being accused, without proof or risk of prosecution, of a crime they actually did commit. I am not sure how big a problem that is for you.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:41 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


1000 friends. We are looking for the husband of a wife she is friends with but not the husband.

Step 1) Look at only women -- this will cut the list down to ~500
Step 2) Look at only married women -- Perhaps in half again ~250
Step 3) Look at only married women who she is friends with but not their Husbands -- want to say 1 out of 5? ~50
Step 4) of those who have kids in the appropriate genders and ages -- again 1 out of 5? ~10

Of those 10 how many are in the appropriate age group and went to a high school on long island? perhaps 2?


If it's this easy, then go do it. When I looked, her facebook profile was pretty open, and you can see all of her friends. So go look.
posted by rtha at 4:49 PM on January 22, 2012


rtha: It isn't even this easy. None of those steps can be guaranteed to provide an accurate reading, because they are predicated on the assumption that the writer is still Facebook friends with the wife, which is not stated in the piece.

Also not stated in the piece, actually, is the age of the other parties involved (making "appropriate age group" difficult), and whether they were at the same school, or even at school at the same time.

The group is described as hanging out in the parking lot behind the school, so I guess an aspirant Sherlock could find out where the writer attended junior high, and then try to find out from historical records whether the parking lot was inside the school grounds in 1973. High school on Long Island is also not a certain identifier, either: the writer says that she recognised names from high school among his Facebook friends, but not that they were at the same high school. And so on.

The victim-blaming here is of a curious kind, but I don't think it's even internally consistent.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:28 PM on January 22, 2012


rtha: It isn't even this easy.

Oh sure, I know. Shit Parade doesn't seem to, even while saying that it is, as if it's fact.
posted by rtha at 6:55 PM on January 22, 2012


Shit Parade: "My "witnessing a murder" analogy was to suggest whether we would believe incredible claims without proof in a weekend nytimes oped, apparently some believe whatever they read in the gray lady."

And I was talking about how if your girlfriend tells you that she was raped, you don't later say that she "claimed" she was raped.

It's impossible to read your comments without leaving with the impression that you're more concerned about the possible innocence of someone who may or may not be a rapist than the feelings of the woman "claiming" she was raped.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:23 AM on January 23, 2012


And I was talking about how if your girlfriend tells you that she was raped, you don't later say that she "claimed" she was raped.

Ugh, I hate this argument in its many forms. It's like saying, "You should be more biased."

I believe, very much, this woman was raped. But I respect those who follow the same tenets in their personal approach as most Western courts do in not rushing to judgment.

Also, the "claimed" thing is simply thus: We use it when we are talking about a big, bad, deal, something it would be Very Bad to be wrong about. If it turns out so-and-so didn't really have a tasty sandwich, it's no big deal if we turn out to be wrong, so we don't need to be careful about choosing our words.
posted by mreleganza at 10:59 AM on January 23, 2012


the whole derail of men being terrified of being accused of rape would be straight up hilarious if it weren't so sad. so, what, there are 10s of guys out there who seriously had their lives ruined due to false accusations? i feel bad for them, and i wish it hadn't happened. but what about the millions of victims who are told through basically every channel that they can't prove their rape, that they'll ruin someone's life if they bring it up, that maybe they wanted it, that maybe it wasn't rape-rape, that maybe there was a misunderstanding, that he's just too powerful, that he's an upstanding member of the church and these are serious allegations, that her outfit and dating history and socio-economic status will come into play, that he's too cute to rape anyone - what about them?

in the situations i've been involved in (both as the victim and as an observer) when a guy who is a friend or family or clergy is accused of rape, people find any way they can think of to diminish the victim's story, build up the attacker, and ostracize her for trying to ruin a good man, unless she agrees to not talk about it anymore/lie and say she made it up. this is the norm - victims being held quiet because they might make someone uncomfortable or dare to talk about the thing that changed their life for the worse without having a courtroom conviction to back it up. the anomaly is men being accused of a rape they didn't commit.

maybe you just stumbled into this argument and really feel like you're discussing this in good faith, but you should realize that this argument has a long history as a silencing tactic. it's one of the reasons that the first two lessons in abuse centered therapy is learning how to live without soul crushing secrets and realizing it's not your fault.
posted by nadawi at 12:03 PM on January 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I believe, very much, this woman was raped. But I respect those who follow the same tenets in their personal approach as most Western courts do in not rushing to judgment.

Also, the "claimed" thing is simply thus: We use it when we are talking about a big, bad, deal, something it would be Very Bad to be wrong about.


I think that believing your girlfriend has a lower burden of proof than a criminal court, though, right? I mean, if she was saying that you had to go and kill the man who did it, that would be a different issue.

But if, as appears to be the case here, the information was being offered because the person was upset and distraught and thought of her boyfriend as someone she could confide in, it feels like "claimed to have been" is an unnecessary qualifier. "Told me about having been" would seem about right.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:08 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I respect those who follow the same tenets in their personal approach as most Western courts do in not rushing to judgment.

I don't. For example, if such a person's kid came to him and said, "Jimmy beat me up," but couldn't provide witnesses or evidence, he'd have to shrug and say, "Sorry, kid, it's a serious allegation and I have to treat your testimony as I would anyone else's - I can see you've been beaten but unfortunately there's nothing to link Jimmy to the crime. I can't rush to judgment, here - I have to treat your account with skepticism."

(The masculine pronoun is used here for convenience.)
posted by gingerest at 1:42 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that believing your girlfriend has a lower burden of proof than a criminal court, though, right? I mean, if she was saying that you had to go and kill the man who did it, that would be a different issue.

But if, as appears to be the case here, the information was being offered because the person was upset and distraught and thought of her boyfriend as someone she could confide in, it feels like "claimed to have been" is an unnecessary qualifier. "Told me about having been" would seem about right.

Yes, I completely agree. To be clear, I was speaking about the broad usage of the word "claim" that was being discussed upthread rather than these specific scenarios.

I don't. For example, if such a person's kid came to him and said, "Jimmy beat me up," but couldn't provide witnesses or evidence, he'd have to shrug and say, "Sorry, kid, it's a serious allegation and I have to treat your testimony as I would anyone else's - I can see you've been beaten but unfortunately there's nothing to link Jimmy to the crime. I can't rush to judgment, here - I have to treat your account with skepticism."

See ROSF's comment about lower burden of proof. In the scenario you describe, I would also take what he says at face value and act accordingly. In reading an introspective commentary of someone you do not know (and again, I do believe her, 100%), I don't think it's scummy or wrong for someone to withhold judgement.
posted by mreleganza at 4:21 PM on January 23, 2012


mreleganza: "I think that believing your girlfriend has a lower burden of proof than a criminal court, though, right? I mean, if she was saying that you had to go and kill the man who did it, that would be a different issue.

But if, as appears to be the case here, the information was being offered because the person was upset and distraught and thought of her boyfriend as someone she could confide in, it feels like "claimed to have been" is an unnecessary qualifier. "Told me about having been" would seem about right.

Yes, I completely agree. To be clear, I was speaking about the broad usage of the word "claim" that was being discussed upthread rather than these specific scenarios.

I don't. For example, if such a person's kid came to him and said, "Jimmy beat me up," but couldn't provide witnesses or evidence, he'd have to shrug and say, "Sorry, kid, it's a serious allegation and I have to treat your testimony as I would anyone else's - I can see you've been beaten but unfortunately there's nothing to link Jimmy to the crime. I can't rush to judgment, here - I have to treat your account with skepticism."

See ROSF's comment about lower burden of proof. In the scenario you describe, I would also take what he says at face value and act accordingly. In reading an introspective commentary of someone you do not know (and again, I do believe her, 100%), I don't think it's scummy or wrong for someone to withhold judgement.
"

Not to beat this already well pounded dead horse into a pesto, I specifically said that if someone you know, particularly someone close, tells you that they were raped. "claimed" is not the right word to use there.

If you really really worry about the rights of possibly-not-rapists, then I'm willing to let "She claimed so-and-so raped her." slide. But if a woman says she was raped, then let's not jump to dismiss her experience, okay?
posted by Deathalicious at 7:51 PM on January 23, 2012


I think part of the confusion here is that mereleganza is, I think, talking about the article - that is, talking about the experience of reading an account (where again I think the possible negative consequences of belief are pretty small, but we've been over that already) - whereas the specific phrase "claimed to" comes from here, where it's in a different context.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:26 AM on January 24, 2012


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