I cannot tell my boyfriend I was raped

-- Question for John --

I was date-raped three years ago. Now I am with a great guy, but have not been able to tell him about this incident. I asked him whether he could accept someone who had been compromised. His reply was yes, provided he was made aware of everything from the start. Otherwise, he would feel he had been misled. He now suspects I’m hiding something from him.

I lost my virtue from that experience. I did not go to the police or tell my family. I tried confiding in a few supposed close buddies. But they either reacted in disbelief or tried to take advantage of the situation. One even made a hurtful remark “It’s about time you lost it, you’re so old.” Another told me to “live life per normal.” I realized they are not true friends at all & have distanced myself from them. Fortunately I did not get pregnant from that episode. I underwent AIDs and STD testing, the results were thankfully negative. I did see a counselor for trauma therapy.

I have been hiding in my safe little shell since. A little while ago, I came to know of this guy my age. We share the same outlook in life due to our common faith and agree on the same principles, especially where honor and integrity are concerned. He had one previous relationship. He broke off because he was also badly deceived. He found out his ex was not true to him and had slept around previously. This spouse requirement, i.e. virtue, means a lot to him.

Anyway I have not told him about the rape episode. And I’m not sure whether to tell him. HOW exactly do you tell a guy you have been raped? I hinted about what happened to two guys before and they shunned me. I really can’t bear reopening old wounds. I am highly-educated and do not wish being judged or thought of as stupid and naive. I feel I have the right to protect what precious little pride I have left.

I wonder whether I should just quietly withdraw, rather than embarrass myself, for we are not yet deeply involved.

Could you please advise? Thanks.

-- Answer from John --

I understand you have fear around telling him, and that there is risk involved in telling him. But I would encourage you to take that risk rather than simply withdraw. If you withdraw, you already know the results you will get, i.e. no relationship. Only if you face the fear and take the risk do you give yourself and him the chance to explore having a relationship. And it might just be the relationship of your dreams. And you are worth giving that chance to yourself. Even if the cost is taking a risk.

From what I read, you tested the water with the question (“I asked him whether he could accept someone who had been compromised, not because of promiscuous behavior but due to unfortunate circumstances.”).

Then he gave you the answer (“yes, provided he was made aware of everything from the start”).

Well, the next step is yours. And it sits there right here, right now, for you to take. And as far a where you are in relationship time and space, you are still at the start. And you are being clearly invited to share what it is that you hinted at in your original question to him.

So tell him already.

And if you have a hard time trying to figure out how to tell him, here’s what I recommend. Print out your email to me… and read it to him… verbatim. It says alot of very important things and says them very well.

He will either accept your story, as he indicated he would… or not. His response is out of your control. His response will be far more of an indicator about him than it will reflect on you.

You will already have done the very hard thing, the very courageous thing, in disclosing your past. And as far as I am concerned, your past offers no reason to be embarrassed. If anything, if he were to respond poorly to your disclosure, in any less than a fully supportive way, it would be far more of a reason for him to be embarrassed.

But I do not think he will respond poorly. I suspect he will be very supportive. I also pray that will be the case.

Consider it an important test of the potential of your partnership with him.

First, it tests your courage to be true and authentic, no matter what the risk, and disclose your painful past. Such authenticity — especially when it is risky and challenging — is a vital part of a healthy relationship.

Second, it tests his mettle as far as partnership potential. His response will tell you more than you could learn in months of dating in a more superficial venue.

Finally, to switch topics a little, I do read sentences in your email that signal you have more healing to do around this trauma. It can be done. If you were not able to get there with your first counselor, find someone else. Keep looking until you get good help. It is an important investment in your emotional health and entire future to heal this as soon as possible.

The kind of traumatic event you suffered is very treatable, and you are only shortchanging yourself not to actively seek out healing. Yes, you are clearly intelligent. I challenge you to fully live up to your own intelligence and find a mentor who can assist you to heal this wound. So don’t give up. Do it.