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Woman Defends Cheating on Boyfriend With Her College ‘Rapist’: It Was My Journey

Woman Defends Cheating on Boyfriend With Her College ‘Rapist’: It Was My Journey

“I felt like I’d scratched a hard-to-reach itch.”

A woman admitted in an essay published earlier this month that she cheated on her “pretty serious” boyfriend with a man who she said had recently raped her.

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While Lana Hoch, as her byline identified her, was not conscious of her motives at the time, she later realized that she had seduced her rapist to “reclaim the narrative” and “reverse the dynamic,” she said.

Hoch’s boyfriend, she explained, was secondary to her personal journey.

“Cheating wasn’t something I took lightly, but whatever deep-seated need I’d satisfied that night was more important than fidelity,” she said.

The story, which ran in women’s magazine Marie Claire on Feb. 2, goes as follows:

A decade ago, during Hoch’s college days, she got drunk in a bikini at a frat party and passed out in the common room of a friend’s dorm along with the friend’s brother. The next thing Hoch remembered, the brother was having sex with her from behind on an air mattress.

“Everything was black, until it wasn’t. Coming to felt like swimming up from the depths of a murky pond. When I reached the surface, I found a reality scarier than the darkness,” she said. “A man crushed me from above, thrusting into me roughly from behind.”

“How did I get here? Did I say yes to this?” she recalled wondering.

When Hoch later told her roommate what happened, she recalled, the young woman congratulated her on her “first one night stand.” Hoch said she tried to adopt that attitude herself, and talked very little about the night with her friends, family, or therapist “for fear someone would question my interpretation of what happened.”

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She went on to find a boyfriend, graduate from college, and get a job, she said.

Then, a few months after graduation, Hoch said, she knowingly went to dinner with the family of the friend whose dorm she was raped in, including the rapist brother.

“I was excited. I didn’t think twice about the invitation to join one friend’s family for dinner beforehand, even though it meant seeing her brother — the one with whom I shared a disturbing history,” she said. “My denial was so strong, so effective, that I could sit a few feet away from him like it was no big deal, laughing, chatting, eating lasagna.”

Afterward, Hoch went dancing with a group of college friends and the brother came along, she recounted. She “strangely” got tipsy and began flirting with him, she said, before inviting herself back to his apartment, where they commenced “PG-13” activities.

“Oddly, being back in bed with him didn’t scare me. We rolled around and made out in the bottom half of a bunk bed,” she said. “He didn’t push for more and I didn’t offer. I woke to find three friends rousing on his grungy couch and shooting me confused looks — they were friendly with my pretty serious boyfriend.”

Yet Hoch said she felt no guilt. 

“I knew I should be ashamed and, frankly, worried that my boyfriend — who I’d been with for a year and would go on to date for another three — would find out. But I was neither,” she said. “Instead, I felt like I’d scratched a hard-to-reach itch.”

According to Hoch, it was only a decade later, at age 29, that she first considered that she might be a rape victim. About a year ago, she said, she told her fiancé and therapist the story, and they quickly affirmed her new suspicion.

“Looking back, I see the logic: Why wouldn’t I want to reclaim the narrative by rewriting my story with a different ending—one in which I reversed the dynamic with someone who’d previously robbed me of all power?” she said. “It was easier for me to cling to the idea of being a cool, sexually evolved college student than it was to face the excruciating truth — that there was no way I consented in my blacked-out state.”

For the Marie Claire essay, Hoch interviewed a psychologist who offered further confirmation. Jim Hopper, a Harvard Medical School psychologist who specializes in sexual assault and trauma, told her that assault victims often try to “gain some sense of authority, either over a sex scenario or even how the perpetrator sees you … It can also be a way to manage your perception of yourself … Because who wants to think of themselves as a rape victim?”

Hoch concluded that when she was “seducing” her rapist, she was being driven by “complex survival instincts.” She advised other women, and apparently society as a whole: “It’s time we stopped being surprised that the primitive, unnatural act of rape can trigger equally primitive, unnatural responses in its victims.”

As Hoch pointed out, women are said to be raped in college at an alarmingly high rate, and the experience can traumatize them for the rest of their lives. For this reason, feminists have increasingly advocated the norm that men must obtain explicit consent for any sexual activity, and it has been adopted by US colleges.

However, critics have pushed back on the trend, arguing that this type of consent is neither necessary or sufficient to avoid sexual misconduct.

Hoch, for one, acknowledged that she has no idea whether she told her rapist that she wanted to have sex that night. She said she just knows that she could not have truly “consented” given her condition. In that case, though, how could the brother, who was presumably also drunk, be expected to know what she wanted? Should he have taken responsibility for her mental state? Maybe.

(To be fair, Hoch never said as much, or even directly accused him of any wrongdoing, other than applying highly charged labels to him, like “rapist” and “assailant.”)

On the other hand, some have made the case that this standard places as unfair on men, especially when they are young dumb college kids, and that it actually disempowers women, by perpetuating a paternalistic dynamic between the sexes. A real feminist, according to this line of thought, makes her own bed.

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Cover image: An illustrative photo of a woman. (Courtesy)

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