When Your Rapist Has a Child
There is no right way to approach this.
I was raped by my ex-partner. It happened multiple times over the space of a weekend. It’s taken six years for me to be able to say that without guilt or doubt.
Shortly after I left the relationship, he began dating another girl. I have never met her, but I could tell from her Facebook profile she was shy and unsure of herself. That’s his type. He picks girls like us and makes us feel lucky he even looked twice at us.
I made a decision that on reflection I would call unwise. But at the time I felt it was the right thing to do. I had blocked my ex-partner on Facebook but I still had access to his new girlfriend’s profile. I would look her up every now and again to make sure she was okay. At some point, I was unable to search for her so I assume she blocked me. No doubt he told her how awful I was. He said exactly the same about his partner before me and under his instruction I blocked her.
To soothe my anxiety, I created a secret Facebook account to I could keep an eye on her. To this day I’m not sure what I was going to do. There was limited public information on her profile and I doubt I would have ever known if anything happened to her. You don’t put that sort of thing on Facebook. To my friends list, it looked like I was happy when I was dating him. No one would have guessed I was being abused. I didn’t even know I was being abused.
From time to time I would log into my secret account and search for her. All I could see was when she changed her profile picture. It would always be a photo of them together, looking happy and in love. Seeing his face was retraumatising but I tried to press on, fooling myself I could protect her. But seeing them so happy together made me doubt myself.
Maybe I imagined things.
Maybe he was a good guy after all.
Maybe the reason things went wrong was because of me.
I stopped logging into my secret account, but I didn’t deactivate it. Although it would have helped me to move on quicker, I wanted a way of knowing if his new partner was okay. I kept it and soon I met my now-husband, moved in with him, got engaged, and got married. Life carried on and I forgot the account existed.
Then I had a baby. I gave birth to a daughter and I can’t help but worry about how her life will be as a girl. I can’t protect her from the world all of the time. One in five women in the UK has been sexually assaulted. There will come a time when she is older and more independent. She will meet other people, maybe go to university, live on her own, and other factors that will prevent me from stopping anyone hurting her.
What if she becomes one in five?
This made me remember my secret account. My stomach turned at the thought that my ex would have raped his new partner by now if they were still together. It had been six years so I could see no way how she wouldn’t be the one in five.
I logged in and searched for her. Her profile showed that she was now married to my ex. I looked at her profile picture. I recognised the same, sweet face as before but it was a lot slimmer. Her hair was no longer blonde. I felt sick. He liked thin brunettes who were unsure of themselves. His partner before me was a thin brunette. When we were in a relationship I was a thin brunette who was very unsure of myself. I looked through her photos and thought about how she must be very unsure of herself to have gone from a curvy blonde to a tiny brunette in order to please him.
And that’s when I saw her son. Their son. He is about a month younger than my daughter. I clicked onto my ex’s profile and it was filled with pictures of him posing with his baby boy. He looked exactly the same as the day I met him. Every photo had his smiley and friendly face, fooling the world that he’s a nice guy.
I sobbed quietly as my daughter slept next to me. I held her tight and inhaled the smell of her hair. I thought about how innocent she is. I thought about how innocent I was when I was that tiny brunette with low self-esteem and desperate for love.
Guilt lined my stomach. I could have prevented this. I could have messaged her when they were still dating to warn her. I clicked onto his wife’s profile. Wife. She was in deep. Or was she? Maybe they were fine. Maybe he changed for her. Maybe I imagined everything. Maybe I’m a liar.
But if I lied, then why do I feel like this?
I hovered over the message button and started to rehearse what I wanted to say.
Hi, I’m an ex of your husband and he raped me.
Hi, you don’t know me but I need to warn you about your husband. He’s psychologically abusive and a rapist.
Hi, if your husband hurts you I am here if you need help. I have been there myself and I know what he’s like.
My illusions about how I could protect her were shattered. I realised there is no right way to do this. I logged out of my account and lay awake, feeling troubled. I thought about their little boy and his future. Will he grow up watching his father be abusive, manipulative, and misogynistic? Can I realistically stop that from happening?
I thought about how I would react if the roles were reversed. If she messaged me on Facebook to tell me my husband raped her, I would think it was a cruel prank. I realised that was the wrong hypothetical situation as my husband isn’t like that. I imagined I was still with my ex and his previous partner messaged me to say he raped her.
I can categorically say I wouldn’t believe her.
My ex is very clever. He carefully laid the foundations in case anything like that happened. He told me stories about her that tugged on my heartstrings. He has a way of inspiring loyalty. Despite never meeting the girl, I hated her. And I’m pretty sure that’s what he’s done to his wife. Despite never meeting me, I bet she hates me.
So I haven’t told her. And I know many would judge me harshly for that. But she’s not the only one with a baby to think of. If I attract the attention of my abusive ex, it will have a ripple effect. He is dangerous and could easily find me. As harsh as people’s judgments of me may be, I would judge myself more harshly for bringing my daughter into that.
And it’s my daughter who matters most. I remember when I told my mother I had been raped. There was no support. There wasn’t even a suggestion of reporting it. I have carried that pain with me for years. I might not be able to stop my daughter from being one in five, but I can make sure I do the right thing if she is. I can control that. I can’t control what my ex does to a woman and child I have never met, no matter how much I wish I could.
It seems unfair that he gets to marry and have a child. Why is such a monster allowed to continue with his life? And how many women out there have to watch their rapists live a full life whilst they live half a life?
I looked up his wife one more time, wondering if she is living half a life. Her profile is filled with interactions with her family, so I take comfort in the fact that she has a support network if she needs it. This has soothed my guilt enough to be able to deactivate my secret account.
My daughter sleeps with her hand on my chest and her face buried in the crook of my elbow. At that moment I realise something life-changing. If I choose to keep myself trapped in the “what ifs” and continue to punish myself for my ex-partner’s choices, I will always live half a life. But I can choose to let go. I can choose to move forward with my husband and daughter by my side. I can choose to be proud of myself for not only surviving but for thriving.
And if I choose this, my life will always be one lived to the full. I think the tiny brunette who was unsure of herself deserves that.