I’m not exactly sure how to word this, as it’s a fairly odd situation. One that shouldn’t be any of my business whatsoever, but I haven’t been able to sleep for the last two nights because I just feel so much anger and at the same time a deep sense of loss. Not for myself, but for an ex-girlfriend.
She was my first serious girlfriend and we had dated for over a year. I didn’t feel appreciated in the relationship as I was willing to do anything for her and frequently proved it, but I felt as if I never got the same treatment back. Eventually stress kept piling up on me between school work and our relationship, that I told her I needed a breather to get myself figured out. I realize now that I should have just talked to her about my feeling instead of bottling them up. However, she told me that she would wait for me and when I was ready we could begin again. A couple days later she was with someone else and I had realized my mistake too late. So for me there isn’t any closure. I hate being a burden on others so I decided it was best if I just stayed out of her life, for both of our goods because I wasn’t really over her at the time.
Jump forward six years and recently I found her on social media and added her. She accepted the friend request but we haven’t spoke a word since. She has a boyfriend now and I felt that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to try and talk to her because of our history. However I didn’t really feel like I could cut her out of my life completely so we are still friends on social media. At this point I think I’ve hit the point where I just want to be a friend since she meant so much to me and I still care about her, although not romantically.
A couple of nights ago she posted her story of her rape and I read it. I didn’t know this had happened because it was during the time we were out of touch and upon reading the story I instantly got furious. I mean I spent about 3 hours punching my heavy bag at home and every time I got exhausted I would think about what she went through and instantly get so angry I couldn’t stop myself from just hitting the first thing I saw as hard as I could. Whenever I wasn’t angry I just felt a deep pit in my chest. The thought of it hasn’t left my mind for a second since reading it and I haven’t slept for the past couple of nights because every time I would drift off, I would instantly think about it and fume again. This is being written late at night because once again I can’t sleep and I don’t know how to move on from this.
I still love her, maybe not romantically, but I still care deeply for her. I want to say something to her but I don’t know what to say, whether I’m sorry, or that I’m here if she needs someone to lean on, or tell her the guilt I feel about a member of my gender being the one to do something so horrible to her and that I personally feel guilty because there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it or help her through that ordeal. But even before I try and figure out what I want to say, I don’t even know if I should say something because… I’m not a part of her life anymore. I haven’t been for 6 years. What do I know about her that I can say that I’m familiar enough to be there for her or to offer condolences or apologies. Now she has someone else to fill that role as her significant other and I don’t even know if it would be appropriate for me to reach out to her. I don’t know what to do about this situation but I’m just so unbearably angry. What should I do?
3 thoughts on ““I’m angry about my ex-girlfriend’s rape””
Ok, first off you need to realise you’re in no way wrong for being angry about it happening to someone you care about in any way. Even if it was a complete stranger it wouldn’t be odd to be angry about the idea that someone would harm someone in that way. That is empathy and that is good and understandable. However, there is a fine line between empathy and codependence. This didn’t happen to you, it happened to her. You can support her and help her if she requires it but that is it. You don’t have any other connection to this other than that and so holding onto this is merely self-indulgent after a point as it is for no one else other than yourself.
My suggestion is you either see it as what it is and let it go OR (and I would suggest this be the best action) reach out and see how she is doing generally. Connect with her and if she wants to let her respond or not. Don’t force any issue and don’t expect anything. If then you reach a point where she brings it up or you connect enough that you feel you can ask about it then do so in a way that gives her the choice to open up or to side step if she wants. She may have dealt with her from her point of view already or maybe she is still very much in that but again, it has nothing to do with you until she asks for your SUPPORT in some way.
We all need friends and people who care for us. Offer that if you honestly can give that without a selfish need attached to it. If she wants that, she will accept and there is nothing wrong with that so give it a go.
The first thing that stands out to me is your mention of guilt.
DO NOT go to her with your guilt about being a male or not being there for her. Sort that out with someone else if you need to. This is one of those “closeness to the tragedy” things. You don’t go to the person at the center of the tragedy to make you feel better about how it hurts you. Go to another friend or a counsellor or something.
That said, honestly, it sounds like you’re coming to this from a pretty selfish place. You sort of want her back in your life and you feel bad that you haven’t been let in to all these things that happened to her. But if it was inappropriate for you and her to be friends before this, it still is. (Whether or not that’s true really depends on your intentions with her, but that’s another conversation).
The fact that she’s posting about her rape publicly on social media means she’s probably got a pretty good handle on things already (I could be wrong here, but you can probably get a sense of how she’s doing from the writing.) You might need some time to grieve and feel your feelings and that’s okay, but I don’t really see any good in you contacting her about it. It will just add a burden to her to make YOU okay with what happened to HER.
If you do want to reach out, I agree with the other commenter, just message her to say hi and reconnect. She’ll probably suspect something based on the timing, so it’s reasonable to mention you saw the post about the rape and tell her if she wants to talk you’re available, but you need to make sure that that’s all about her, and not put your feelings about it on her. I don’t know if you are in an emotional state to be able to do that, so, my recommendation is sort out your own feelings first, talk to other friends until you feel stable, THEN if you still want to be friends with her, reach out.