Ask Dr. Helen: Can a Man Be Raped by a Woman?

Here is one man's story -- let's call him Mike (other identifying data has also been changed) -- about a rape that happened to him over 17 years ago that he still can't forget:

Dr. Helen, I've recently been coming to grips with the fact that I was raped by a woman. While doing online research, I happened upon your blog and read several entries, most notably the relevant "Can Women be Predators?"

If you don't mind, I'd like to share my story with you.

I am now an editor at a small book company and an activist but in my earlier life I was a Marine.

On a Friday night in 1990, after hanging out with a friend for several hours at a club -- said friend disappeared for the night and left his female friend (stranger to me) without a ride and about 35 miles from home. I was plastered, and not going to drive as the club was next to a motel. She asked for a ride and I offered to drive her home in the morning as she was about 6 months pregnant, but I was going to have to get a motel room for the evening as I was drunk and not driving in such a state. We decided to split the cost of the room and both agreed that sleeping was all that was going to take place. She was pregnant and also not my type in the slightest. At the time, I thought I was in love with a woman attending a local college. I seem to recall we even had separate beds.

I woke up about 2 hours later -- still destroyed by the alcohol -- to find my clothes removed from the waist down and the girl on top of me wailing like a banshee and quite roughly enjoying herself. She had apparently brought me to erection -- not hard as I'm one of those men who can hold one for hours, awake or asleep, sober or drunk. She told me everything was okay and to go back to sleep and despite my best effort to the contrary, I was unable to move or speak coherently in my still very inebriated and half-conscious state and did fall asleep again quickly.

After most of my drunken stupor wore off around 7 am or so, I awoke again to find her on top of me -- this time with a more menacing attitude as she knew I was in a better position to respond physically this time. I had began to wiggle out from under her (taking care not to hurt her baby) when she sternly warned me to "be quiet" and "not be forceful" and made it clear that she would cry rape if I tried to stop it. I was stunned to say the least and not sure how to respond. I could easily have thrown her across the room and off of me, but was concerned for her child and took her threat very, very seriously. She said it so easily that I doubt I was her first.

I weighed my options for a moment and came to the conclusion that a sober, 6 or 7-month pregnant college student of 24 was far more likely to be believed by the authorities than a drunk 19-year old Marine in the best shape of his life. I frequented that club a lot and I'm sure several people saw me leave with her. I was pretty much f*cked -- in more than one way -- at that point.

I complied by lying still while she continued to warn and threaten me and she eventually orgasmed again and got off me. I don't know how long the second rape transpired as I tried to disconnect my mind from that scene. Further, I have no idea how many times she had actually raped me that night (at least twice), but I was extremely sore for a few days. As a small favor, she turned out to be disease free.

I've always tried to pretend it was nothing or play it off like an uncomfortable memory of a wild night that ended weird whenever the memory surfaced.

After 17 years of pretending, the floodgates opened this week (thanks to a wonderful woman I work with) and it has been extremely difficult to deal with as my denial was swept away. I have a lot of counseling in my future in order to heal after the band-aid was ripped away.

This was very difficult to admit, not only personally, but to a very dear friend who has been there before. As you know, rape is about power and control. She had power over me that night, even though I could have easily thrown her across the room and off me. Her pregnancy and threat of jail against me were the only weapons she needed to have her way that night.

I spend a great deal of time on civil liberties issues fighting for those without a voice through my publications working on national coalitions with the ACLU and tons of other organization leaders spanning the spectrum from left to right. It is very hard to see myself in the role of victim now, given how much time I devote to advocacy efforts.

Thank you for listening and thank you for what you do.

When I read Mike's story, I realized the horrible psychological predicament that this rapist put Mike in. If he turned her down or pushed her away, she could have called rape and as he points out, a pregnant woman would no doubt be believed by authorities and his career as a Marine would have been over. The psychological trauma this caused him must have been excruciating. Can you imagine being blackmailed this way? I know of another man who had a similar event happen to him as a teenager, but he never did anything about it or reported the abuse.