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I have an old friend I just found out was raped violently by a stranger. Sadder than than that, when she came home from the rape her husband was high on a drug, got stimulated by the thought of his wife being raped (as sick as it sounds) and raped her again. Other than the obvious, "get out of there" advise, can you provide any recommendations for dealing with this repeat trauma. She is now so very frightened of strangers she cannot go anywhere alone, not even to the grocery store. Your help or referral would be very important to me. Is there a book I could read to try to understand what she may be going through.

Thanks for your note to Feminist.com--and for being such a great friend. Without sounding too glib--I think that therapy is what is needed. (Please look at the list of services listed at Feminist.com--the national database. This will hopefully put you in touch with the resources nearest to you. You might also check out our Violence Against Women Section) You have probably heard about the "cycle of abuse," which keeps going unless it is broken. In women this often manifests itself in constantly finding yourself in abusive situations. For men--the cycle is often repeating the violence. These two seem like a case of this. Whether she's willing to "leave him" or not - she needs to have someone to talk to that will help her get to the root of this abuse. For him--he needs help, too--because if it's not her, it will be someone else. Often times people--mostly women--aren't motivated to be honest about an abuser-until they realize that it isn't about them, but about future victims of abuse. One model that might work for your friend is "model mugging"--which is really about self-empowerment and creating boundaries in our lives. It's also about identifying the abuse in our lives. Perhaps she can enroll in one of those classes.

As for books--which could be a comfort and an inspiration to take action--she should take a look at some of these, which should be available at the library and bookstores-- as well as at our Feminist.com Bookstore under "Violence Against Women".

  • The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
  • For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence by Alice Miller
  • Breaking Free: A Recovery Workbook for Facing CoDependence by Pia Mellody and Andrea Wells Miller.
  • The Politics of Denial by Michael A. Milburn and Sheree D. Conrad.
Also--anything by Judith Herman and Sandy Bloom. I hope this helps--good luck to you and your friend.


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