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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can a Man be Raped? (Is this letter fake?)

Dear Bro Jo,

Hi my name is (withheld) and I have a serious problem.

I started going to a singles ward to find the right girl for me. Anyhow, I met this one girl at a singles event and we hit it off great!

When we first started dating everything was going great. I was a proper gentleman and all of a sudden she turned evil.

I would pay for dinner and hold her seat out for her.

But then she started to beat me when I told her I would not start paying her bills. Also at dinner she also talks down to me and hits me when I don't pull out her chair because I am in the bathroom.

She forcefully came on to me and I told her that I needed to wait until marriage because I want to get married in the Temple. She just laughed at me and called me unmentionable names. She insists on me staying the night with her in her bed but I tell her no.

A couple days ago she made me (detail deleted) and now I feel very bad. She told me that she wanted to get together tonight and I was ok with it, until she brought over a 6 pack of beer. I told her to get it out of my apartment but she just chugged the beer.

I need your help.

This relationship has gone too far and I am worried about what will happen if I try to break up with her. I thought I could make her happy by offering to have sex with her but she told me all she wanted from me (detail deleted).

I feel heart broken. I thought I found the right girl but it turns out I was wrong. I feel ashamed and need to speak to my bishop, plus he is currently unavailable.

I'm scared of her.

Please help.

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

I've got to be honest: I've read and reread your email several times over the last two days, and each time I'm convinced it’s fake. There's just too much about it that doesn't add up.

(When I shared it with Sister Jo she actually laughed out loud.)

So here's the thing about fake letters: in addition to writing "Dear Bro Jo" (which I not only do for free, but I spend a couple thousand dollars a year trying to reach new readers so I can help them), I'm married, have seven children, and work two full-time jobs.

I'm not complaining, I'm informing, because as "Dear Bro Jo" grows in readership so do the quantity of fake letters (interestingly enough, always from guys who are trying to shock or get a rise out of me, occasionally pretending to be girls, as if I can't tell the difference) and "anti-Bro Jo and his family" internet rants (everyone has the right to write what they want, I suppose, but I fail to see the profit in maligning a person because you don't agree with their opinion - who has that kind of time?).

Sure, "Dear Bro Jo" gets a lot of letters from pre-daters who are "Lost" and "Confused" (I get so many letters from 15-year old girls that they have their own category), and letters from Young Men and Women who don't know how to date and/or act around each other (largely because their parents and Church leaders have failed to teach them), from YSAs who are trying to navigate the difficult path of finding a good spouse, and SAs who have their own twists and struggles. But I also get letters from real people in real trouble: sincere Gospel questions, moral dilemmas, addictions, depression, and suicidal feelings.

I get hundreds more emails than ever get published on line; I do my best to answer all of them because I care about people, although occasionally time gets away from me; I feel for those that are struggling, no matter what their issue is or how serious or trivial it may seem to someone else; and if a random, anonymous guy on the internet can help answer a few questions, direct people back towards God, encourage or uplift in anyway . . . then "Dear Bro Jo" is worth every effort I can put into it. I love my readers and the emails they send.

I have to agree with Sister Jo when she says "no man has ever been 'forced' to what you claim she 'forced' you to do" . . . unless he was bound, threatened or there was a gun or some other weapon involved. It may not have been his idea, he may not like it, but even if he's doing it just to keep her happy, he still has the freedom to choose whether or not he does it.

Joseph ran from Potiphar's wife, my man; you're inviting this girl into your home.

Is it possible for a woman to rape a man?

Sure it is. But you've asked us to buy into the story that this woman you just started dating is repeatedly physically and emotionally abusing you, that you feel threatened, and yet you keep seeing her. You tell me she's beaten you and yet you're "okay with seeing her".

Why would anyone do that?

If your letter is real, then grow a spine. Break up with her. Don't let her in your home.

Spiritual concern? Tell your Bishop.

Physically threatened or in danger? Then call the cops.

No one needs to just sit there and take abuse, let alone invite it into their home and take it to dinner. There are thousands of great Single Sisters out there who don't drink beer, want to save all things sexual until marriage, and won't beat you.

If you stay with her one more day, regardless of what she says, does or promises, you're an idiot.

(I would have been gone LONG before any of what you described happened. Heck, if I'd have been called nasty names at dinner I'd have paid the check and left the girl there!)

This girl was not the "right girl" the instant the Spirit told you otherwise and you shouldn't have stayed in the relationship past that moment. If a girl I was seeing had made fun of me in a mean way at any point in our dating, I'd have gotten up from dinner, paid the bill, and left her rear-end there. An LDS man, single or otherwise, should never be alone with a woman in his home (or hers) that isn't his wife, sister, daughter or mother, whether she's single or not.

If your email IS fake, please get a life and stop wasting my time.

- Bro Jo


Peter and Molly said...

Bro. Jo, we love you and we're grateful for your help and advice. Sorry you have to put up with pranksters. As to the issue the letter writer brings up, however, it is rather timely. Just this January the legal definition of rape was expanded to include men as victims. In addition partner abuse of men is widely considered one of the most under reported crimes. (Largely because of the embarrassment it can bring.) In addition, while no one can ever take away your agency, the cycle of abuse works in such a way to make it difficult to get away, because the abuse is followed up by a period of intensely good emotions, often including gifts, apologies and large romantic displays. Because of this pattern, the abused are conditioned to wait out the periods of abuse because they believe the reward is right around the corner. This cycle can affect men just as it can affect women. Not knowing the details of the encounter, and gauging from Bro. Jo's response this is probably not a rape by any definition, and the writer is probably just playing a joke, but this can be a serious issue, so I thought it would be worth speaking up.

Maggie A. said...

Without saying whether or not I think this letter is fake, I do want to say that this response is completely inappropriate.

While I know that it is almost physically impossible for a woman to rape a man, I think we need to keep in mind that a man is just as capable of becoming the victim of an emotionally or physically abusive relationship as a woman is. Many girls become part of relationships where they are emotionally tormented, physically abused, and manipulated (whether physically or emotionally) into sex, and continue to let the man into their homes. If this letter was written by a girl, I don't think you would have called her an "idiot" or berated her so harshly for not having broken up with this twisted person. Just because it was written by a male does not make it a lie or a complete impossibility.

That said, fake letters are annoying and disrespectful, and you shouldn't have to deal with that.

That said, I feel you should have responded in a more appropriately (and Christianly) worded, private email.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Maggie -

I've resisted running this column for quite a while . . .

All emails I get are responded to privately, many never get posted at all, and the ones that do typically sit for many weeks, sometimes several months or a year.

You're right; my response does come across as very harsh, and that's my fault. Admittedly I can be . . . too blunt some times, but I also edited out a lot of detail; some to protect the writer, some to protect the readers, and some . . . for other reasons.

I decided to run this letter because I do think the topic has value, and I think the discussion that will be had because of it might benefit many of us.

You're also right, I would (and I have) responded differently to similar letters from female readers; but I submit that there are some (perhaps subtle) differences between this letter and the others I've received. I invite you to focus on what HE wrote, and see if that doesn't shed some light.

The only other thing I think I can offer at this point is, regardless of the sex of the target, everyone is better off if they fight against being a victim and the victim mentality.

I appreciate your response; thank you for keeping me thinking,

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Can I just add something here.....

Bro Jo, you're incredible and honestly you answered this correctly. I know that, just like me, you do receive a lot of fake claims and stories from people. Not only does this waste time but I know it hurts as you care for everyone.

There will most likely be emails pertaining to this story which we, as readers, do not know about but to say that Bro Jo answered this in a "none Christian" way is offensive because nobody apart from Bro Jo and the person who wrote the letter to Bro Jo know the whole story.