The goal of this article is to normalize reactions and emotions you might face when someone you know gets accused of rape, based on my own personal experience.
A few days ago I was told by a friend that someone we know has raped at least two of his friends. I won't go into details because this isn't a legal matter and I am actually not sure what I am allowed to share.
After the initial shock, I thought to myself: I only have good memories of this person. I try to support his business as much as I can. I light up whenever I see him. I think he's charming. Do I now have to let go of everything and consider him a terrible person? Can I keep my good memories and still consider him a terrible person?
Can he be both a gentleman and a rapist? Do I simply never see him again? Do I say something, knowing almost no one would admit to such a thing? And what if he does admit it? And regrets it? Is he forever canceled or can he learn from this and be better? And if I never speak to him again, am I allowed to miss him? I think yes.
When you hear of situations like these from the outside, it's so easy to automatically think of them as bad people, put them on your hell-no-list and move on with your life. And I have neverrrrrr seen anyone talk about this because it is even more taboo than your average sex ed.
When your first experience of someone is negative, it's easy to categorize them as such without much thought. When you think of this person as a funny, loving, multi-dimensional human, it becomes tricky to make that switch and start seeing them as violent and dangerous.
Everything I am feeling is okay. And if you have ever gone through something similar, whatever you felt was okay. This example is obviously not the same, but it's like when someone cheats and you suddenly have to hate this person even though you love them. People tend to be ashamed and hate that they feel that way. But it's okay and it's normal. We're not robots and things are rarely so black and white.
What matters is how we react to these situations and our actions. If I'm honest, I don't think I'll say anything because I don't see the point. I don't think he would admit it. This is a whole different thing. We don't give abusers room to talk about it, and how will they ever learn? Of course they will keep it quiet and deny, it's how they'll survive. Is it our jobs to help them? Or feel empathy? No. Absolutely not. But it's still fucked up.
I never even thought to question if the victims are telling the truth or not. Less than 1% of victims lie and it's not my job to doubt them. As a victim myself, I think it's very annoying and hurtful when people's first instinct is to see if it's true or not. I believe anyone that will trust me with their experience, and so should you.
I think if we were closer friends, I would definitely try to find out if they feel remorse and where to go from there. Now I understand why someone would stay friends with a rapist. I used to judge this behaviour but I get it now. It's so weird to even say that and I'm not sure what's morally correct or not. I don't think it's that easy to know. It heavily depends on the context.
I'll probably stop supporting his business to separate myself from him and as a way to support the victims instead. I'll learn to live with my good memories and cherish them while also not wanting anything else to do with this person. I most certainly don't have all the answers and this is just what I am doing. I basically just vomited everything I am thinking but I hope it helps someone. I wish we can all start talking about it.