Rape or my Boyfriend?

Shari, Philadelphia


Dear Dr. Patti,
To be honest, I don't know what made me write this email, but somehow I feel I should... I've read your website and got a bit confused about my situation...

I am an 18-year-old girl, been to psychiatrists and psychologists many times but don't feel like I got help, so I just pretend to be happy and normal so they would leave me alone. I've been locked up in a mental institution for 24 hours last year because of suicide attempt... though it wasn't the first one... but this is all in the past and is unimportant...

I would like to tell my story, though I don't think I was sexually abused. So there is this guy that I love, he's 31, the sweetest, perfect guy on the whole planet, with one problem, when he drinks he changes and becomes quite aggressive... one night he stayed over my house, cuz my mom was away for the weekend. Everything was nice and cool until he got drunk again and we started kissing. That was fine with me, but in about 10 minutes he was all over me, touching everywhere, I admit I enjoyed it but didn't want it at all. He became more passionate and started persuading me to have sex (i'm a virgin), I said no. He stopped for a moment and became all cute and sweet again, but then it started all over again. I said no, but this time it was hard to stop him. He tore off my shirt, held my hand behind my back making me totally defenceless. Eventually, he broke my hand, the palm to be exact, but I'm sure it was an accident. I was too busy with the pain I felt in my hand and didn't really notice how we got into my bedroom onto the bed... in a second I was naked, he tear my clothes off as if it was a natural thing to do. All the time I kept saying no, but he didn't listen, though sometimes he tried to be more sensitive. He stuck his fingers in my vagina so unexpectedly... it hurt a lot, almost made me cry... I felt like I couldn't do anything, he was too strong... but then, for no reason, he stopped, apologized and went to sleep. And in the morning was super sweet to me. He didn't quite remember what happened and I decided not to tell him, like what's the point? Since then I'm a bit afraid of him, though he told me many times that he would never hurt me on purpose... I believe him. This happened a month ago, since then he didn't stay over at my house for the night... I guess it was the alcohol that brought aggressiveness out of him, cuz he's a very nice and polite man. But still I am afraid, yet don't know why... 

thanks for listening, 


Dr Patti responds: 

Dear Shari, 

I am glad you sent in your story, clearly this experience still haunts you. Even if you keep trying to convince yourself this is a great relationship, I am very concerned about the worries and confusion you have about your boyfriend. I would consider this date rape. Even though he did not penetrate you, and legally this may not be considered rape, it is a violation, and you were forced into a sexual act without your consent.

First let me say, a 31 year old boyfriend is usually too old for an 18 year old.

Most 31 year old men are sexually active, engaging in intercourse and oral sex. You may not be interested or ready for that much sexual activity. He may love you, but it is highly unlikely that he will stop trying to be sexually active with you. On the contrary, I believe he may become even more forceful in his demands for sex. Because he has a drinking problem, you could very well find yourself in a dangerous situation which will hurt more than a broken hand.

Let me be clear about this. You do not want to be in a relationship with a problem drinker. It sounds to me that your boyfriend has a very real problem with alcohol because he is starting to show changes in his personality when he drinks. This is serious and he probably should be getting help! Most people will take a drink for a social occasion or when entertaining, but a problem drinker or alcoholic will drink because he cannot help himself.

Here are some questions I would like you to think about:

  1. Who gives you love and attention?
  2. Who do you trust most with your problems?
  3. Can you try another therapist?
  4. What makes you feel whole and good?
  5. Who is your best friend and can she help you?
  6. Do you exercise and eat right?
  7. Do you have plans for your future?

These are things for you to think about. You could also bring a list of questions about the dangers of alcohol and abusive relationships to your next therapy session and see if the therapist is able to help you more. Also refer to the therapy section of the site and see if it makes any sense to you. If you don't connect with your therapist, switch.

Because of the personality changes, your boyfriend seems to have a drinking problem. Also maybe you are trying to paint a picture for yourself that he is the perfect boyfriend, but he really has a lot of problems. Was he devastated that he broke your palm? You are right to be frightened of him and his mood swings. He has hurt you once and he could hurt you again. I am worried for you Shari and I hope you reach out to more people. Please try not to be with your boyfriend if he is drinking. Please be careful and call RAINN! 

.....................xo, Dr. Patti.