R and I exchanged our first words over the phone. He was a psychologist who worked for an NGO for epilepsy patients. When he said he wanted to talk to me in person about things that could be said over the phone, It seemed odd, but I knew I was perfectly safe. Psychologists and advocates don’t rape.
I met him in a coffee shop. He looked like an Issey Miyake model and spoke like an English professor. Rapists are all monstrous and stupid, so I knew he was harmless. My intuition nagged me to leave and never see him again, but sometimes your intellect knows better than your gut, so I agreed to meet him later in a social context.
Trust is earned one tiny minute at a time. The space between meeting a complete stranger and turning him into a trusted friend can be chopped in half if you use your logic and discount your instincts. Don’t be fucking paranoid, Red. Did you see how hot he was? Men are not all out to get you, and you’ve never found yourself in a dangerous situation before, so you’ll be just fine.
And that’s how I got involved with the psychologist who looked like an Issey Miyake model. I thought I’d hit the jackpot. He was sexy. He was intelligent. Above all, he helped people for a living, so he had earned my trust long before we’d even met, hadn’t he?
Rapists look like rapists. They’re instantly recognisable. They wear cheap clothes and have neck beards. Their aggression is easy to spot. So is their lack of ethics. R? He took me to eclectic restaurants. He listened to me. His intellect was cuttingly sharp. You can’t have fun with a rapist. You can’t have consensual sex with one either because that’s just not what rapists do. They rape, therefore the fact that something about R didn’t quite make sense to me was just my own ridiculous cynicism.
Three weeks into our fling, I found out why R worked for an epilepsy NGO, why he seemed so damned principled, and why he’d worked overtime to earn my trust: it was the perfect disguise. His job put him in touch with vulnerable women—women who wouldn’t think twice about the initial symptoms of ketamine; women whose memories could not be trusted in court. Everything that made R look like the opposite of a rapist was put in place with the utmost care because he was a rapist.
These days, R has refined his strategy. He’s still not earning a doctor’s salary. He has his own NGO now. It works to support rape survivors and abused women.
But of course he couldn’t possibly be a rapist. Rapists don’t support rape survivors. Don’t be so paranoid.