I’m looking for some advice on a sensitive subject that i can’t really speak to anyone about in my real life, and this thread maybe feels like the most appropriate place on here.
Primarily keen for female perspectives on this but welcome any input
CW: sexual assault w/ a brief description
Last year my now-partner was sexually assaulted during an initially consensual sexual encounter with a friend. She was ‘stealthed’, meaning he agreed to wear a condom and then removed it without consent.
She has a black-and-white view on this being wrong, and a legitimate form of seuxal assault. However, she also has broadly low self esteem, and is currently grieving, and this happened shortly after her mother died; these things combine to illustrate the point that whilst it’s gravely serious, it’s not the most serious thing she’s been dealing with. She has not expressed to him her feelings about the action, but excommunicated him, and then responded cheerfully to a message he sent her around Christmas, during a moment of goodwill. (I say this with no judgment, only to illustrate that he therefore has no idea either of the seriousness of his action, or no idea that he’s been ‘caught’ and will face any consequences.)
Her sister and her long term bf are also friends of the man who did it and whilst they agree that it’s wrong, they don’t view it with the same seriousness that my partner does. This is creating some difficult situations; for example, my partner and I were invited by my partner’s sister on a prospective camping trip later this year, that he would also be at. It was only after I was very candid about my feelings about this that my partner felt validated to feel uncomfortable about going; I think she feels a lot of self-doubt about how seriously she can take it, especially due to her sister not fully having her back on it and being willing to enable social situations between the two.
I’m basically just really unsure how to handle this situation in the most sensitive way. The first time she recounted this incident to me, we were still getting to know each other, so I listened with compassion and assured her that she was right to view it as completely wrong, but left it at that. The second time, the recent discussion I got very angry about his actions and her sister’s reaction, and then cried when the adrenaline subsided, and eventually we communicated about it well, and she thanked me for validating her feelings whilst also asking me to try to lead with compassion not anger, especially when we’re alone, which I agreed to. She reiterated that she would never want me to speak or act on her behalf, which I respect completely.
This last point, however, is stressing me out, because I also would be unable and unwilling to be civil in a social situation with him. I’m not really a violent person, but I’m not shy of expressing myself very directly. The fact that her sister does not really validate her viewpoint creates a slight minefield and the possibility of us being in a situation together worries me because I’d have to remove myself from it to avoid speaking on my partner’s behalf which would, to some extent, still be speaking, or acting, on her behalf. My partner knows how I feel so there might be an element of overthink here, and my validation of her views might give her the boost to also express her unwillingness to be in that situation and avoid it happening.
Basically I’m looking for some guidance as to how best meet her needs and handle the situation delicately. I don’t feel like I can bring it up with her unless it comes up naturally as it’s a potentially triggering thing, and not my wound to pick at. It’s stressing me out more than it should but this is fuelled in part by a very valid and urgent sense of extreme disappointment in her sister, who in all fairness may be dealing with her own subconscious sense of disbelief that her friend would carry out a sexual assault.
That’s a bit of a meander but any advice and thoughts will be appreciated deeply