Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

Boyfriend’s reaction to my rape disclosure

Last weekend my long term boyfriend and I were in bed together on Sunday morning. We were messing around (nothing sexual at all) and he rolled on top of me. All of a sudden I had a flashback type experience of something that happened to me 6 years ago and shouted at him to get off. It was strange because I know my current bf would never do anything to hurt me or force himself upon me, yet suddenly if was remembering an experience I'd buried deep and never think about.

The memory was of being raped by an ex boyfriend. At the time I didn't realise it was rape and until last weekend I don't think I'd ever referred to it (even in my own mind) as rape. But when my current boyfriend asked what was wrong I blurted out 'I just remembered being raped by an ex'.

My bf looked shocked and then said angrily 'I don't believe you' and walked out of the room. When he came back he said that he didn't believe me because I'd never talked about it before and when talking about a friends rape, had been horrified & from that he's presumed nothing like that had ever happened to me.

I explained that I hadn't known that it was rape at the time and had buried the memory since, but he said he found that hard to believe as I'm a feminist and very vocal about #ibelieveher etc. I couldn't explain it to him any further but I felt so sad that his initial reaction was not to believe me and accuse me of lying.

He's the first person I've ever told about this experience. I know that others have way worse experiences of rape than I did, so I wonder whether I am making drama out of nothing. I don't know. But I can't stop thinking about it now and feeling betrayed by my bf's reaction.

He has since apologised and said that he didn't want to believe it because he hates the thought of that happening to me, but I'm still feeling upset about his reaction.

I guess I'm sharing this because I think I need advice and support and to let others know that #ibelieveyou.


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10 thoughts on “Boyfriend’s reaction to my rape disclosure

  • Admin says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We believe you.

    We know that many women get the same reaction from partners and others, as you have had from your boyfriend. We are all conditioned to think that women are lying when they talk about their experiences of domestic and sexual violence, and your courage in disclosing to your boyfriend is wonderful.

    We’ve asked our users to offer advice in the comments. If you would like to talk to an organisation who won’t judge you, and will believe you, we list services on our ‘Get Support’ page.

    Sending peaceful thoughts x

  • H Allison says:

    As a survivor of rape and sexual coercion, I believe you and support you. I didn’t label my rape as rape for 10 years. It took a long time for me to come around to the fact that I was raped and that I am a survivor of rape. Ironically my ex, who abused me sexually, was the one that tried to convince me I was raped.

    I’m so sorry that your boyfriend wasn’t supportive at first. You have every right to be upset over that reaction because it’s hurtful. That reaction is common and it shouldn’t be. You might need to have a discussion with him about it, but that’s up to you if you want to bring the subject up again. If it continues to bother you, it is probably best to work it out with him.

    Talking to other survivors/victims might help you as well. Often times just know there are others out there and that we understand and support you can help. Numbers to call or sites to visit are important but might not be enough. I have a few very close friends that I’ve told about my rape and they were very supportive and caring. That helped, but it isn’t always the thing to do for everyone.

    I wish you all the best as you work through this issue.

    Take care.

  • sakthi says:

    I’m so sorry that you were raped, and that your current boyfriend reacted so negatively to you when you raised it. I can’t explain your boyfriend’s reaction, but I would be upset by it too if I’d been in the same situation.

    Also, I too consider myself quite a vocal feminist, but not long ago something relatively ‘minor’ happened – a guy exposed himself at me in a shop. My reaction was to panic and leave in a hurry.

    I still find the thought of it very uncomfortable and unsettling, and I’ve not even mentioned it to feminist friends, even though the topic has come up in conversation.

    My point is, don’t think that just because you are a campaigner for a cause there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to react when you experience the injustices of that cause. Nothing prepares you for an experience like rape, and you can’t know how it’s going to affect you. Just know that you’re not alone, and there are people out there who believe and support you.

  • Mellie says:

    It takes quite a bit of time to process traumatic experiences and to even add a label to what that experience was. It’s reasonable and makes sense that your mind blocked it out, and again, makes sense that when a trigger happened, everything exploded to the front. I’ve had the sudden halting moment when a repressed memory pops forward, and even had friends walk with me through admitting having been raped by someone.
    We believe you, you have support, and I’m glad he’s come around.
    His reaction was hurtful and very in the moment emotionally charged. I’m sorry his reaction was the reaction of many, that of disbelief and denial, but I’m glad he’s come ’round. I hope you two are able to talk about things further, and that he’s able to be a support for you through this.
    Be gentle with yourself during this time.

  • Adam says:

    I believe you.

  • J says:

    I believe you.

  • Alison Boydell says:

    I believe you.

    Our brains and memories are highly complex especially when it comes to trauma. Triggers and flashbacks are common experiences of many survivors.

    We’re also inculcated by parents, educators and the media to believe that strangers pose the greatest threat to us;
    we know this to be false with most sexual violence (as estimated 90%) perpetrated by men against women who are known to them.

    Sadly, your boyfriend’s reaction is not uncommon and even though he has apologised, you’re understandably upset. Some Rape Crisis centres offer support to partners and family members of survivors. Part of the problem in how people respond to disclosure is the prevalence of rape myths and lack of understanding of how we process and respond to trauma.

    Sending you lots of support.

  • L says:

    I believe you.

  • Jill says:

    Flashbacks can be very hard to deal with. When you pulled away your boyfriend was probably hurt and didn’t understand what you were reacting to. In those initial minutes he probably felt rejection, he was then hit with the news of what had happened to you. His reaction wasn’t that unusual.

    In the same way you were probably experiencing all sorts of emotions at the time and hoping that disclosing would help.

    There is no easy way to approach disclosure. What he said in the heat of the moment can’t be taken back. It will take time for you both to work through this. You both need support, some of it together and probably some apart.

    Understanding how things can be blanked out is hard. But if you want things to work keep at it.

    You aren’t over reacting, but he needs time too. You both need time to work through the range of feelings that you have.

    I hope you can sort things out and move on as a stronger couple.

  • Heidi says:

    I’m sorry your boyfriend didn’t believe you at first and made this revelation a little harder for you.

    A similar thing happened with a friend and her boyfriend made her rape all about him and turned himself into a victim.

    But your story isn’t about him or anyone else and I really hope you find some sort of peace from this horrific event.

    You are a survivor and I believe you.