In society, one of the most controversial subjects we have to deal with is false rape accusations. That’s when a woman deliberately accuses a man of raping her when he has done no such thing. This can occur for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps she wants to defame the character of the man because of his social status (CEOs, professional athletes, high ranking military officers, etc.). Perhaps a failed relationship aroused feelings of scorn. Perhaps it’s because she feels guilty of spreading her legs too fast to a guy she just met and immediately regrets it. This is arguably the most common.

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Regardless, this has happened often enough to the point where debates rage on discussing whether or not rape actually occurred. Was there really consent? Is this girl just attention whoring? I personally ask these questions now whenever I hear about sexual assault in the workplace. In addition to an innocent man getting sent to prison; the worse thing about false rape accusations is that the real victims suffer. And that is what I want to talk about. I had to deal with this with a girlfriend of mine.

Quick Background

Immediately following high school, I met a girl through a mutual acquaintance. We ended up dating and getting serious after a while. A little over a year into the relationship it happened. She was walking home from work (she was a waitress) and was attacked at knife point. There was no alcohol involved on her part. She was dragged into the nearby woods. I do not want to go into too many details on how bad it was, but to this day the scars are still visible.

Mental anguish

When someone gets raped, there are a barrage of emotions that goes through the head. My girlfriend had felt intense anger, and fear. There were fantasies about killing the man who attacked her and random bouts of anger thrown at me every now and then. She also felt utter humiliation. The act of someone beating you and forcing their privates inside of you garners feelings of helplessness.

The worse part was the fear. When I first saw her that night she was frantic about everything. It made me feel weak and emasculated that I wasn’t there to protect her, despite not even within walking distance of her. Her attacker has not been caught yet, meaning there is the persistent fear of wondering whether this guy know where she is and if he is still watching her. She no longer works at the restaurant as a waitress.

My girlfriend had felt tarnished and filthy. She never got pregnant but did come down with an STD. It should be noted that I was the first guy she had sex with. This means her thoughts and feelings of “spoiled goods” were only enhanced. There are feelings of shame as well. Aside from me, two friends, some family members, and police authorities, no one else knows what happened to her. She thinks no one will take her seriously. “Rape happens a lot anyway right? I’m not anything new nor special. They probably won’t believe me anyway.” These were her words. She prolonged therapy for several months because she kept questioning the integrity of therapist. Suppressing these feelings enhances the mental anguish even more. It also makes the triggers worse.

PTSD

Intimacy, Sex, and Triggers

When rape occurs, there are primarily two paths that the victim tends to follow in regards to sex. The first is that they become more sexual. Promiscuity and cheating for example can run rampant in some sexual assault victims. I believed some of this to be about the need to regain control and the loss of trust and respect for the opposite sex. These assertions were confirmed by some of the trauma therapist I spoke to. This really sucks for the sexual assault victims and the people they end up in a relationship with but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

The second path is the complete opposite, meaning the loss of interest in intimacy or sex. This is what happened with my girlfriend. I of course understood the loss in sexual desire and this did not bother me. What did hurt was the loss of intimacy. I remember one night when I tried to do the nose rubbing and kissing thing she loved while rubbing her hair softly. She responded by batting me away like a fly. I unintentionally activated triggers. The memory of the attacker forcing her head to the ground.

Triggers are an interesting thing. It’s one thing to try to control what people say out of fear of offending them a la today’s overly politically correct environment. It’s another to go through something extremely traumatic and have to shut down emotionally so that you can avoid having to experience that pain again.

Pirates

What can you do?

There are things you can do to help the situation if you are dating or marrying a girl that has been raped or gets raped during your relationship. This excludes your girl coming home and telling you she “made a mistake because she was drunk.”

1. While she doesn’t need to go to therapy right away, and you shouldn’t force her, you need to make sure she does at some point. If not then she will begin dissociating and the fallback from triggers will be tremendous.

2. There is nothing wrong with feeling angry or melancholic. There is even nothing wrong with tears. In fact, you could be making your girlfriend or wife more comfortable talking to you about it. Speaking of that, make sure you let her know that she can talk about it, but only when she is ready and on her terms.

3. Men are protectors so yes, feelings of shame, anger, emasculation, etc. are all normal too. You may possibly need some people to talk to as well. If you have any hobbies you like to engage in then make some time for that as well.

4. Don’t take it personally if she  flips out on you or cries at random times. This is more of a good thing because pain is being let out.

In regards to the rapist, don’t worry about hunting the guy down yourself. This does nothing but indulge your ego. It will not make anyone feel better. Just see to it that the authorities punish him.

It is unfortunate to say but in spite of this, your relationship may not survive. Mine deteriorated after six months. We still talk sometimes, but the sunny disposition is no longer there. She will never be the same person again.

Read Next: What Real Rape Culture Looks Like