How to Act Around a Rape Victim

A teenage niece (she’s 16) was raped by her grandfather (not my father; her other grandfather) last Friday :mad: . I just found out about it last night.

I’m not particularly close to the young lady; in fact, I never really liked her all that much (I’ve always found her to be bratty and obnoxious, even moreso than normal for girls her age). And I only see her during family gatherings (birthdays and such). I’m sure I’ll be seeing her again in the next few weeks. I’m not sure how to act around her.

My gut tells me to treat her like I’ve always treated her, which is to say, generally ignore her unless she speaks to me, and then try to be polite. However, do recent events call for more attention? I certainly don’t want to bring up bad memories, but I don’t want to seem un-compassionate either.

Any advice?


That’s a tough call. I think in cases like this, it’s best to treat the person gently, and be there if they need you. Even if you may not be close, she may come to you, you never know.

When my best friend was raped, I was actually a little scared to see her. I knew what had happened, and it was the next morning. But, as soon as I saw her I knew what to do. I just sat and let her talk, didn’t ask questions, got her tea and cookies, chinese food and wine later. I tried and still try to be there if she ever needs to speak about it. Fortunately, she has healed emotionally and can talk about it freely now. She’s a trooper.

I hope your neice is ok. This may change her for life.

Treat her the same as you always have, but watch your own langague. She probably wants to believe that not everyone knows. Unless you have something special to offer - i.e. your own rape story.

Years after I was raped one of my bosses threw out the word - as in “we are really getting raped on this contract.” YEARS had passed and it was like getting slapped.

This close, steer conversations away from sexual innendo as well (she’s young, you probably don’t do a lot of that around her anyway) and morality issues (she will likely be raw and blaming herself). This is not the time to mention how much men value virginity, how belly shirts and hip huggers are sexy, or how happy you are that the Olsen twins are “legal” because you were feeling dirty. This is important not only when talking to her, but when talking around her. This may be a good time to steer conversation towards talking about admirable women in a way she understands but will not read anything into - i.e. Sandra Bullock donated a lot of money to Tsunami victims.

Dangerosa I am totally with you on the use of the word in that context. It’s not a turn of phrase used in Ireland, and when one of my Canadian classmates used it “we really raped that exam”, I had to get up and walk out of the room. It shocked me enough to unerve me for the rest of the day.

And I consider myself to have overcome the issues in my past, if I had been more fragile at the time or it was more recent in my life I would have been really upset.

It’s not a good word to throw around, the more people who realise that, the better.

HeyHomie, don’t go out of your way to be nice, don’t touch her (even a hug) unless she initiates it, and if she does dissolve into tears or throw a hissy fit of some kind, try and deal with it calmly in a way that let her knows you care. There might be some boundary pushing for a while, it’s natural to test whether people still love you and how much, when you don’t love yourself much at the time.

I dated my girlfriend for over 2 years before she told me her first sexual experience was when she was raped at a party. I’m sure I’d said stuff like “I’m being raped at work” and such in front of her, but she never seemed offended by it.

She told me about the rape after one of my less senstive friends went out drinking with us. He launched into a speech about how he didn’t understand how any woman could ever be raped unless her life was threatened with a gun or sharp object, and how rape victims shouldn’t give in so easy. She told me later that night when we were alone. I assured her that not all men believed the bullshit speech my drunk friend had made, and spent the rest of the night hugging her while she cried and recounted the event.

We never spoke of it again, but I was more cautious to mention rape in the future.

I’d say treat your niece as you always do… any other way could make her feel uncomfortable and think about WHY you’re suddenly acting so nice to her.

This makes me really sad. :frowning: Raped by her own grandfather, the sick SOB. :mad:

Tell me about it. I’m partially inclined to give him a little extra-judicial punishment, but I don’t need an assault charge.

Maybe we can sneak up on him. I’ve got a bokken around here somewhere.

I’ve got no real advice for you, except maybe try and pick up from her cues.

I can only offer the perspective of a guy who’s been leaned on by more than my fair share of women after they’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, so take this with a grain of salt.

The number-one thing that women complain to me about is that, when they find out about it, guys tend to get macho and do the “Do you need anything? I’ll go kill him for you if you want. Really, I will” schtick. Don’t… but you knew that already.

It all comes back to what Anaamika said: Try to let her dictate things. Again, the grain of salt, but I find that whatever it seems like a good idea to say or do - don’t. Just let her dictate things for a while.

You’re very sweet to be concerned about her.

I was raped many years ago. I wish I could tell you that there’s a perfect way to behave. I just don’t know if there is such a thing.

After my attack, I was a flip flopped through the whole range of emotions and, at times, no one could do anything right by me . Sometimes people would be making small talk and I’d want to scream “how can you talk about this trivia; don’t you care what happened to me–I need support dammit!” Other times they’d express their sympathy, and I’d want to scream “can we talk about something else for a change? Sheesh, am I always going to be ‘the one who was raped’ to you?” Suffice it to say that I was very irritable for quite a long time and I was not fun to be around.

The best advice I can give you is to not take anything personally for a while. I know I took every little thing as criticism or rejection. Seriously, it got ridiculous. One time my mother asked if anyone had seen her car keys. I responded that I thought they were on her night stand. My brother responded that he thought they were actually on the kitchen counter (where they were). I blew up. Really. Over that I launched into “what? am I just wrong about anything? does no one listen to me?” As I said, I was not fun to be around. Luckily for me, people stayed aroun. Despite my bitchiness and super over senistivity, they didn’t shut me out or start avoiding me. For that, I am forever grateful.

Years ago when I still lived on Long Island, I was in NY and headed for the subway and just happened to pass by a woman crying and obviously in an angry or fractured way not just weepy-sad if you know aht I mean, and I asked if she was OK and she said she’d just been raped. I’m sad and embarrassed to say I stuttered and sputtered and finally ended up telling her she really needed to call the rape crisis center ASAP because they knew what to do, and dove into the subway entrance. Didn’t even ask her if she’d like a cup of coffee or needed help getting home or anything. :frowning:

People who have been raped: I am so sorry. I will keep reading this thread in case anyone has advice input or suggestions for what to do if I ever again happen to be there right afterwards. I wish the world didn’t include this possibility as something that could ever happen to anyone, ever.

What has just happened to her may be a clue to her previous behavior. Chances are that something has been horribly wrong in her family for many years. It’s hard to believe that grandpa has been loving and proper for 16 years, then jumped on her out of the blue. And presumably grandpa expected to get away with it; that says something about her relationship with her parents.

If you haven’t been close to her in the past she’s probably not going to choose you to open up to, and she probably wouldn’t want you to mention it, especially at a family gathering. Just being kind is probably all you can do. You might stand ready to intervene if somebody else gives her a hard time. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of her relatives are finding some excuse to defend grandpa.

So, is the grandpa awaiting trial? Out on bail? Pleaded guilty? I hope he gets raped in jail.

She hadn’t even known her grandpa until a few months ago. He just wandered into his son’s (the girl’s dad) life after 30 years of being absent.

As for the grandpa himself- last I heard he turned himself in and confessed, and then was released on his own recognizance :eek: The way Mammahomie tried to explain it made it seem like the local PD didn’t have any jurisdiction to hold him and was waiting for a warrant from the state or count. Or something. Beats me. :confused: