A close female friend was raped by an old acquaintance of mine. (I am male.) I knew this guy when we were tweens, I didn't really care for him as we got older, so it goes. Turns out a few years ago he raped my friend in a blackout alcohol situation. I don't know more than that. She says she considers the encounter "not strictly consensual" and confided me in that this guy didn't react well when she tried to talk to him about it. This isn't something she's "out" about. My feelings toward this guy are pretty dark. Now he's randomly moved back to town, and I see him around, and some good friends of mine who stayed in contact with him over the years invite him to stuff. I don't know what to say or how to act. I know I don't want to talk to him or be a friend. I would like to tell my other friends about this guy so I don't have to fucking see him, but I can't because it's not my story to tell. I would rather just skip social events he's at, but without explanation, I doubt my friends will understand, and it feels like I'm surrendering my friends to someone who assaulted a dear friend. I told someone once to please not invite him to something or I would skip it. They were confused and it felt like an awkward ask. What should I say to my friends about this guy? What can I do to keep him out of my life?

Angry Confidant

"I don't like hanging out with Chuck and would appreciate it if you didn't invite him to the party/show/bris/whatever."

"What's the issue between you guys?"

"Look, we go a long way back and it's not something I want to discuss. It's just awkward for us to be in the same place."

That's the best you can do without outing your friend—without telling a story that isn't yours to tell—and it's likely your mutual friends will be confused by the ask, AC, but you'll just have to be at peace with that. You could add something vague that omits identifying details ("He did a shitty to a friend once"), but any details you share—however vague—could result in questions being put to you that you can't answer or are tempted to answer. Even worse, AC, questions will be put to Chuck and he'll be free to lie, minimize, or spin.

My only other piece of advice would be to follow your close female friend's lead. You describe what transpired between her and Chuck as rape, AC, while your female friend describes the encounter as "not strictly consensual." That's a little more ambiguous. And just as this isn't your story to tell, AC, it's not your experience to label. If your friend doesn't describe what happened as rape—for whatever reason—you need to respect that. Another possible lead to follow: Does she want Chuck excluded from social events hosted by mutual friends or is she able to tolerate his presence? If it's the latter, perhaps you should do the same. If she's not making an issue of Chuck being at a party, AC, you may not be doing her any favors by making an issue of his presence yourself.

If you're worried your friend tolerates Chuck's presence to avoid conflict and that being in the same space with him actually upsets her (or that the prospect of being in the same space with him keeps her from those spaces), discuss that with with her one-on-one and then determine—based on her feelings and her ask—what, if anything, you can do to advocate for her effectively without white knighting her or making this not-strictly-consensual-and-quite-possibly-rapey thing that Chuck did to her all about you and your feelings.

It's too bad Chuck reacted badly when your friend tried to speak to him. If he's an otherwise decent person who has a hard time reading another person when he's drunk, he needs to be made aware of that and drink less or not at all. If he's a shitty person who "takes advantage" of other people when they're drunk, he needs to know there will be social and potentially legal consequences for his rapey behavior. The feedback your friend offered this guy—the way she tried to hold him accountable—could prevent him from either fucking up like this again (if he's a decent but dense guy) or "taking advantage" like this again (if he's a shitty and rapey guy). Since he wasn't willing to listen... yeah, my money's on shitty and rapey, not decent and dense.


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