content warning: sexual assault
I found out my rapist died. Googling my rapist is something I’ve done and asked other people to do for me, periodically. This time my good friend offered. I asked: is he alive, town of residence, and whether he’s in jail.
I think this man raped countless people. I’m an anarchist and really don’t believe in jail. But if there’s going to be jail, that’s where this guy belonged.
My friend replied that my rapist died in 2018. She couldn’t find his obituary, but she found that death-date as a note in an article he’d published.
The death of this man was one of the two deaths I’ve desired in my life. I used to really wish he was dead. In fact, I wanted to kill him, which is not my norm. If you know me, you know I’m a peaceful person. Wishing to kill anyone is very abnormal for me.
But the behavior of this man really messed with me. I was violenced in my home as a kid, and neglected in multiple ways. Then I was preyed upon by teenage boys for some years. This man raping me was the icing on the violence cake. He was 30 years older than me and took advantage of my body, mind, and soul.
The recovery time was more than a decade. I stopped speaking for some time. The harm was not one particular event, though I can point to multiple particular events of rape.
There was a psychological aspect, and what I learned about the world. I developed a deep fear of people that took a long time to shake–I was afraid of everyone. I’ve done vast, undefinable work to be able to go out into the world. Years and years of work.
Therapy, countless hours nurturing myself, prayer, waiting, reframing beliefs about myself and my past, bdsm to safely reenact the violence and defuse it. Years I didn’t much leave my apartment. Hiding that it happened, getting no help at the time, and not much help later.
The C-PTSD and agoraphobia that resulted from the rape messed me up. So there was the harm he did over the course of some months in a yuck relationship, and then much longer reverberations.
It didn’t need to happen. Nasty entitled users who think other people exist for their gratification are the problem. Evil manipulative men who believe young women are prey. And a dysfunctional culture that doesn’t protect its most vulnerable. The things he did to me were deeply destructive to my well-being.
By the time he got his hands on me, I was already so harmed–the previous years of abuse had prepared me for more abuse. I didn’t know how to set boundaries, say no, defend myself, or that I even deserved such. I was disabled with autism undiagnosed and crazy also, doing my damnedest to perform as not-crazy.
My family and society taught me that I was worthless and my needs didn’t matter. So it makes sense that by the time I was 20, I hated myself and was a sitting duck. This evil man used me for all he could. (I plan to write another post soon about how it all happened, all those many years ago.)
I was under-supported and mostly alone in the world–I had my best friend, and my mom who was elsewhere. Otherwise, I was shit out of luck. The other people in my life were mostly using me.
I didn’t tell anyone what my rapist did to me at the time, and no one helped me. I was alone in my suffering, which is probably why I work so hard for community now.
Recently I had a friend I was close to for some time–they told me that when their abusers died, they would celebrate. My friend had a plan–I think it involved bourbon and chocolate cake.
I was impressed by that. I have so few examples of how to react in a healthy way to unhealthy situations. My friend’s plan helped me see I had no similar plan. I knew I had a lot of feelings, but not what to do with them.
I thought hearing my rapist died would make me happy. But I was shocked–I’d thought it would be like the times before, when I was told he was still alive. My response was a huge “Wow!” and I got up to dance.
The dancing makes sense because the wow gave me some energy I needed to work out. Then more layers of feeling came to me.
Confusion, mostly A feeling like–what do I do now? I felt like I needed to do something, but I didn’t know what. That first evening I considered googling “what to do when your rapist dies.” I felt lost.
I told my spouse about it; some memories were bubbling up, things my rapist did and said to me. The memories had a new clarity, too vivid. Things were shifting in my head. My spouse tried googling my rapist for more info, but he couldn’t find more than my friend had.
Having a rapist at all is horrible, for so many reasons. The role is too important. My life was myself, my mom and dad, my brother, my ex-husband, my dear spouse, my best friend, a man far away who I’m in love with, a former mentor, my closest friend in town, an aunt, a niece, a therapist, a former therapist, and my rapist.
Rapist was a role it hurt to have. This asshole didn’t deserve a role. I wished I could just forget about him, but part of the problem was that I could never forget about him.
I never said his name–I never told his name to people at all. So it was vulnerable to share it with my friend so she could google him, and to share it with my spouse even. Even though I trust my friend and spouse, felt creepy. The name feels too powerful.
Deep shame / embarrassment is a big result of what my rapist did to me. I feel so stupid about what happened–I still blame myself, in some way. Or course that’s what he wanted, and he manipulated me to that.
The self-doubt he put into me, and the twisted ways he explained me to me messed with my self-perception. I was like a brainwashed person in a cult, completely mistaken about my own power. He took the messed up ideas I had about myself from violence as a kid and amplified them times ten.
what I learned
When I found out my rapist died, it changed my internal landscape. My inner world is shifting still, days after the news.
I learned that I don’t need to be afraid of that town anymore, where he lived. Strange–now I could go to that town and walk around like nothing. That whole part of the world feels safer now. I could still run into his wife or kids, but I probably wouldn’t know them. They probably wouldn’t recognize me.
I learned that I could stop trying to protect people from him. It wasn’t until I learned he died that I realized I was even doing that, vigilant that my nieces especially would never meet this man and be harmed by him. It wasn’t a real thing I did in the physical world–it was some weird inner guarding, trying to keep young women safe from him.
Doesn’t make sense, like a rabbit trying to stay very still in a bush so the predator won’t see it. But the bush has no leaves on it, and the rabbit is clear as day.
I learned that his death doesn’t matter as much as I thought it would. He’s dead, and his body is no longer going to violate me or anyone. But he’s still real in my head, but also not real. Yes, it’s complicated. In a way he was already dead, and in a way he can’t die, as his harm is still inside me.
I hope to learn more over the next year and longer, as I adjust and take into my consciousness my rapist’s death. I hope to talk about it with peer counselors and write about it more, make art about it, and pull the facts into me, to change other facts.
One good friend is very smart about death, and I was glad she was available to txt with me, that evening I found out. She helped me feel safer and held in her love.
She was raped also, and I asked her if she had experienced hearing that someone who’d raped her had died. No, she has not yet experienced that. She gave me some ideas of how to process it, and her support was valuable.
My spouse and other friends helped me also. My spouse held me in bed as I cried. I felt very exposed–I wanted to go into the earth. No place seemed safe enough.
My spouse and friends understand it’s a big deal. I hope to do a ritual.
My friend suggested I write a letter to my rapist and burn it. She said just to get it out, that I don’t need to read it after I write it. She said I could draw pictures and say absolutely anything to him. The idea blew my mind–the idea of addressing him was bizarre to me. What would I say to this person who ripped up my life in so many ways?
After some time he was not really a person to me. He was like a force, a demon–a powerful symbol of misogyny and violation. Like a hurricane or tornado of evil. Destruction beyond what I knew a human could do.
What could I possibly say to this horror that would be big enough? Language is so dear to me, but language would fail. No “fuck you” could be angry enough. No “I hate you” could be enough. It’s not hate–it’s a thing with no name, like hate but a hundred times more. Beyond violent revulsion–beyond anything.
doing the impossible
My big reaction to her idea of writing a letter, that it’s impossible, makes me think I should try. Doing the impossible is my favorite.
My rapist would periodically contact me to try to worm his way back into my life and use me more. I’m glad he can’t do that anymore. At least not how he did before; there is no email from the other side that I know of.
Good riddance to that piece of shit who did more harm than I knew one person could do. Googling my rapist is something I might continue to do, to try to find the obituary and whether he died in jail.
Love to all of us as we understand and re-understand what’s happened in our own lives.