Hey girl, we were victimized by the same creep...
December 12, 2017 2:09 AM   Subscribe

Should I contact a stranger who was victimized by the same man as I was? Is it inappropriate or even pointless?

I am being purposely vague here so as not to compromise anyone's privacy, but several years ago I had a nonconsensual encounter with a man (X), who is known by many people in my community. While I was very upset by it at the time, I glossed over the story as a fully consensual hookup, to myself and others.

Recently I heard a rumour that sexual assault allegations had been made against X, so I ended up searching his name on Facebook. A post appeared by a woman (Y) who detailed a similar experience with X as my own, and more than one woman commented with stories about him as well.

Reading this jolted me into, for the first time, truly seeing myself as a victim and X as a predator. Part of me wants to contact Y so I can discuss my experiences and see if there is anything his victims can do, but I am not sure of the etiquette or ethics of doing so. Her post appeared to me because we have one mutual friend on Facebook, but said person is more of an acquaintance to me. I don't want to come off as creepy or inappropriate.

Any advice on how to proceed here is appreciated. I keep my social media accounts workplace-professional and wouldn't feel comfortable making a similar post myself.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total)
I'd do it. Fair play. Could be helpful to the other person and if it's not, oh well, that's life. You didn't find out by hacking their personal files, it was on Facebook.
posted by karmachameleon at 2:38 AM on December 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

There's strength and support in numbers. Why not keep it short and brief, just put the ball in her court. "Hey Y, I had a similar experience with X. Seeing your post made me realize for the first time that it was assault. Do you want to talk?" She made the post public so people *would* see and discuss, I think it's okay for you to contact her.
posted by fritillary at 2:39 AM on December 12, 2017 [39 favorites]

It sounds like this woman made the post public because she was open to sharing her experience so I don't think it's creepy at all to contact her to share yours. In fact, she might feel quite validated to know that's she's not only one to have gone through it and yes, he is in fact a creep.
posted by Jubey at 3:17 AM on December 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I agree it's absolutely within the bounds of politeness and sense to contact her. She might not want to message back, as of course you already understand, so it might be worth putting a single line in making clear that you don't place any burden on her to respond. Also, maybe saying why you saw it (the friend of friend connection on Facebook) would be useful for her.
posted by howfar at 3:44 AM on December 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I agree that it's ok from an etiquette standpoint to contact her, as she did make it public on social media.

One thing that would worry me in your shoes is this: "I keep my social media accounts workplace-professional and wouldn't feel comfortable making a similar post myself." Consider how to contact her so as to protect your privacy, like contacting her not through a public response but a private message, or asking her not to divulge your specific details (and consider for yourself whether you trust her to handle your info appropriately).

I say this not to scare you off from stepping forward but to bring up something that I would care about in your situation. Once info gets out, it's hard to control it or people's reactions to it.

Good luck. And kudos for facing this issue.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 3:45 AM on December 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Absolutely. Long before all these current events there was group at the local women's center and talking about it made everybody stronger.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:48 AM on December 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think silence in these situations is what keeps victims, victims. She's obviously found strength in sharing; I'd definitely reach out to her, in a way that feels private enough for you, and hopefully you will find strength too. Good luck.
posted by starstarstar at 5:08 AM on December 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

The only thing I'd caution you about is any potential legal ramifications. If the Jian Ghomeshi trial taught us anything, it was that courts can take a very unfavourable view of victims who "collude" together too much.

So I'd say it was fine to reach out, let the other person know they weren't alone and that this situation wasn't unique to them, but after that maybe back off, unless you decide to approach law enforcement or a prosecutor together. Or if you're going to try to create some sort of victims' support group, I think I'd be inclined to do with somebody "official" (say a registered therapist) in charge, so that you can "prove" you were doing it for healing and not so that you were ganging up on a poor defenceless man.
posted by sardonyx at 7:02 AM on December 12, 2017

This should be a police matter. I would reach out to her because this pattern will be repeated, and you can help make a case against this criminal.

Please also reach out to the Sexual Assault Center wherever you are and get help and support, which you deserve.
posted by theora55 at 7:03 AM on December 12, 2017

There was a bad thing that happened with some predators in my community a couple of years ago, and a bunch of the women who were directly affected got together for mutual support, information/resource sharing, and advocating for each other. It was a horrible, horrible thing, but that sense of connection and validation was a net positive. We're still in touch here and there, and it's so good to feel like someone's got your back and understands what you've been through.

I say reach out, absolutely.
posted by witchen at 7:53 AM on December 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would reach out in a way that makes you comfortable. That she posted her story on Facebook means that she is okay with it being seen by her friends and friends of friends (i.e. you) if not wider. If you are not comfortable with her disclosing your identity and that this also happened to you, I would clearly state that in your reach out to her. I hope the connection will help you both heal.
posted by perrouno at 9:22 AM on December 12, 2017

If either of you has any intention of contacting the police, I would suggest that being in contact with other potential victims might compromise any investigation or prosecution. Tread carefully and keep it brief if it seems like it might go that way. I am sorry this happened to you and wish you strength.
posted by RandomInconsistencies at 9:34 AM on December 12, 2017

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