A friend on Facebook linked to an article that immediately caught my eye: “Defriending My Rapist.” With a title like that I couldn’t help but click through and read the piece. What I found was a haunting, vulnerable, and reflective piece about a woman who ran across the man who raped her over 30 years ago.
In the essay, Dorri Olds shared her story about how Facebook suggested she friend the man who raped her when she was just 13-years-old. After being flooded with the memories of the night of her attack, Olds decided to accept the Facebook friendship.
She writes: “Facebook suggested I friend him. I guess our social networks overlapped. I guided the mouse toward his photo, and the little pointed hand hovered over his face. Fear and anger swelled up but curiosity won out and I clicked “Add Friend.” He accepted within minutes. Stunned, I wondered if he had forgotten raping me, or if he thought I had.”
Olds goes through a range of emotions after her rapist accepts her friendship. Does he remember that night? Has he raped other women? Should she get revenge?
Olds recounts her rape in stunning detail.
“At 13, I was a lonely upper-middle-class Jewish nerd living on Long Island, in search of a tougher persona. He was part of an edgy crowd that hung out in a parking lot behind the school, sprawling over the cement steps like bored cats on a sofa. It was 1973, and the boys wore black leather jackets, smoked Marlboros and stashed pints of Tango and Thunderbird in their back pockets. One afternoon, making sure my long brown hair covered the blemish on my cheek, I went over and said, “Hi.”
Two other girls wandered off with their boyfriends to make out, leaving me standing alone, feeling like a loser. I grinned in relief when one of the boys waved “c’mere,” as if to confide something. But then the boy grabbed me, clamped his hand over my mouth and threw me on the ground, shoving a knee into my hipbone. At first I thought it was a joke. Then four other guys surrounded me. I realized this had been planned.
With the other boys holding me down, he slammed on top of me.
“Is that how you like it?” he said. His breath stank of cigarettes and beer.
Another boy said, “She may have an ugly face, man, but she has a really nice body.”
I’m not sure which was sadder, that I believed my face was ugly or that I was flattered he liked my body. I tried to scream, but it came out muffled. They laughed. I gagged. They took turns. Then it was over. I pulled myself up, retrieved my pink Hanes and almost fell over getting my foot through the leg hole. I leaned against a tree for balance and tugged up my jeans, and then I started screaming.
After reading his Facebook wall and looking through his pictures, Olds discovers the man leads a pretty normal life. He’s married, has children, and seems to be happy. This brings up feeling of revenge, and after also friending his wife, Olds wonders if she should shatter the life the man has created.
In the end, however, Olds realizes that the man’s wife did nothing to her, and revenge wouldn’t heal the wounds he left behind. So instead of blowing up his world, she sends him a cautionary message: “I hope that night has haunted you. I was naïve and a virgin. I see you have a teenage daughter now. Better keep her safe from guys like you.”
What do you think? Could you forgive the person who raped you?