I am female, but I recently gave myself the challenge of writing about the aftermath surrounding the rape of a female from a male character's perspective. The male character in question is not the rapist, but the rape victim's partner.
From my perspective as a female, the way a man can be hurt by the rape of a woman he loves is too often overlooked. Even without researching the subject much, I was surprised at what I was able to discover in a first draft just through putting myself in the male character's head. The male character in this story does some things that I as a female considered to be 'right' as far as responding to the situation: He made sure his girlfriend knew he didn't blame her--even when she blamed herself for getting into a dangerous situation--and he gave her complete control over their sexual relationship.
On the other hand, he also made some mistakes in his responses: he tried to confront the rapist, and only ended up being injured, which only upset his partner further and made her feel more helpless. But, because I was writing from his perspective, I empathized with his frustration and helplessness and his need to *do* something about the situation, as well as his dissatisfaction with people who told him the best thing he could was "be there." Furthermore, I found myself feeling a remarkable amount of sympathy for men who feel hurt by their female partner's distrust following a rape. For all that his girlfriend genuinely loved and trusted him, when it came to the sex act, she still felt fear. Everything her partner was to her could not entirely remove her fear of his 'maleness.' I actually found myself shedding tears, feeling a great deal of sympathy for his hurt, his frustration, and most of all, his struggle to deal with his anger over the crime--anger which sometimes was projected onto his girlfriend.
My sympathy with this character was especially surprising because I was dumped by a boyfriend once after confessing that I was apprehensive about sexual activity after having been sexual assaulted.
Question for the men: Have you known any victims of rape? How did the crime against them affect you?
Women, if you have been a victim of sexual assault or rape, how did the men in your life react? What did they do well, and what do you wish they'd done differently.
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