A strange attraction to aggression

Dear Suzie,

A few weeks ago my Drama class watched a A level group’s play about rape & abuse. One scene in the play was a guy being aggressive towards his wife & ended up raping her.

The problem I’m having is that I got a strange attraction to the guy because of his aggression towards the girl. Ever since then I can only think about such aggression being towards me. I fantasize about being raped.

I find these feelings to be really strange & weird. Is it normal to feel like this? or am I just strange?

You’re not strange. But I think one of the reasons you were shown this play was to highlight your common reaction.

We are often aroused by things that are exciting in theory but horrible in fact. Almost everyone has sexual fantasies. We can daydream about being swept off to a desert island by a film star or romanced by someone we know. But sexual fantasies also often contain elements of domination or coercion. Rape fantasies – your raping someone or being raped by them – are actually very common. The point is that by imaging yourself compelled you can absolve yourself of guilt; look, it’s not my fault I’m having wild, passionate sex – I’m being forced!

But the absolutely vital key to consider about all this is that whatever your fantasy about being made to do it and being out of control…you are in total control of the dream. That’s the difference between fantasy rape and real rape. One is a script you write, direct and manage. The other is a total and catastrophic loss of power, and traumatic as such.

But the other thing important consider, and that I think this was designed to make you consider, is that some of us gravitate towards relationships in which humiliation, violence and aggression play a part. Why do we do it? Usually, it’s because somewhere in our lives we’ve been made to feel worthless, and see this sort of relationship as our due.

Or, we’ve been let down by a man – a father or stepfather – and gravitate towards a boyfriend or partner who does the same in the hope that we can replay the original relationship but make it end happily. I hear from so many girls who ‘love’ men who abuse them and that’s their hope; he’s really nice they think, and if only they could do the right thing, he’d reform and treat them right.

Sadly, this never happens. If you get yourself trapped in a genuinely abusive relationship only the abuser can clean up his own act – you can’t change him with your own behaviour.

So; it seems like this play started off quite a few issues, didn’t it? If you can see your arousal as something you can keep inside your mind as just something that adds a frisson to sexual play, that’s fine and normal. If it feels as if it’s a warning that an abusive person or an abusive relationship would be something that attracts you, I would take the opportunity to talk this over. Was there time set aside to talk it over after the play? Did you raise these issues? Could you, now? If you just said you found the man disturbingly attractive I bet half the class would agree and thank you for letting them also debate it. Think about all the ‘bad boys’ in films and literature we love and are attracted to. It’s all very fine and fun – unless we let it become dangerously real without realising what’s happening.

If you can’t talk about it in school, what about with someone you trust such as a relative or friend or a teacher. Or, ask for some counselling help through your GP. Good luck!

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