Recovering and confused

I was raped during a blackout and didn't tell anyone. Now what do I do?

Published April 14, 2003 7:18PM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance a while ago. I was blacked-out drunk at the time and my memory of the events of the evening is shaky at best. I know I could not have consented to have sex. I know that at one point I told him no, asked him to stop, and cried. I know that he persisted even after I told him I didn't want to have sex, and I saw and felt the bruises in the days that followed. However, it took me a while to realize that it was an attack and not just really unfortunate sex.

A couple of days after this he e-mailed me, clearly unaware that I consider what happened rape (and this is my fault, I admit -- I was very confused the morning after). I told him I didn't want to speak to him. However, I feel that maybe I should tell him that what he did was wrong, and that he violated me. I don't want him to do this to any other women. And should I tell his fiancée? I don't feel any need to ruin his life, but I think she should know who she is engaged to. He has been accused of inappropriate sexual contact at work before, so I think this may be a pattern of his. This has been very hard for me to come to terms with. Do I tell him? Do I tell her? I really need some advice.

Recovering and Confused

Dear Recovering and Confused,

The first thing you need to do is take care of yourself. To do that, you're going to need some help. There should be an organization in your locale, either on your university campus or in your community, that offers rape counseling to women. Look in the phone book under "rape." Make an appointment with a person, and explain what happened. You need to talk with someone who is experienced in these things.

You and she can take it from there. You really need to do this. I could tell you my opinions, which are many and various and passionate, but the important thing is for you to sit down with someone in a supportive place and go over all this. I'll refrain from saying much else except: You are not to blame.

The right counselor can help you decide what to do next -- if the girlfriend should be contacted and all the rest. The most important thing now is for you to make the phone call, OK? And if you can't find any organization, or you're having trouble picking up the phone, write back and let me know.

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Want more advice from Cary? Read Friday's column.

By Cary Tennis

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