Editor’s note: Joyce M. Short is the author of a soon to be released book, “Carnal Abusive Deceit — When a Predator’s Lies Become Rape.” The book chronicles her life with a predator, the subsequent aftermath and her road to recovery. It also provides advice for victims and their supporters, and discusses the issues surrounding criminalization of rape-by-fraud. Joyce lives in New York City, where she’s a real estate broker, professional tennis instructor and a strong advocate for her community.
A Predator’s “Mark” Often Struggles to Overcome Rape-by-Fraud or Emotional Rape
By Joyce M. Short
I was hoodwinked by a charlatan. It was not until I found the appropriate terms to express what I’d experienced that I actually began to feel relief. He lied about everything … his age, his education, his marital status, military service and more. The man who seduced me, who I came to adore, was nothing but a charade.
Once I learned of his treachery, it took years to mend. It was complicated by the fact that we had a child together. As I struggled through his physical and financial abandonment, depression and the sense of defilement that resulted from his wrongdoing, I finally determined to write a book about it. Doing so enabled me to put the facts and his behavior into context. Beforehand, they were jarring memories loosely floating through my consciousness and disturbing my peace. While purposeless rumination and a sense of deprivation were eating me alive, he skipped along on his way to an affluent, secure life. My determination to write the book renewed my sense of power, which had been stripped away by his debasing actions.
Writing my story
Writing is a process, and writing about one’s painful past is fraught with starts, stops and detours. Facing the most painful memories can erode one’s spirit as we relive the actions that caused us so much grief. As I continued writing, I attempted to convey how “raped” I felt at his hands. I coined what I thought was my own invention for describing his impact, “emotionally raped.” I decided to take a look on the Internet and see if it was a term that was in common usage.
Before I completed typing all the letters, the words, “emotional rape” sprang up, denoting that the term actually existed in techno space. Before me lay several options to chose from. I was overwhelmed. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I had to take a few minutes to collect myself before I could continue. Just the validation alone that what I felt was an actual, identifiable occurrence — that someone, somewhere in the universe knew about — was mind blowing.
I’ve continued researching and writing since then. Today I understand that when someone pretends to be a person they are not in order to induce you to have sex with them, they are committing the crime of rape-by-fraud. When they deceive you about their character in order to cause you to feel a loving bond with them, they are committing emotional rape. They are defrauding you of your highest emotion, which is love.
Unfortunately, the crime of rape-by-fraud is only punishable in a number of states: California, Massachusetts and Tennessee. Emotional rape is not punishable anywhere.
If you felt raped at the hands of a predator who lied to you, but were not physically overcome, now you know why. Rape by duping someone is as much a means to circumvent your opposition as doping would be. Doping a victim to engage in sex is widely known as “date rape” and punishable by law. The act of sex does not have to hurt you physically in order to hurt you emotionally. The trauma and confusion to victims increases with the length of time that sex with the imposter continues.
Just as doctors can’t prescribe cures until the illness is known, victims of rape-by-fraud and emotional rape have a difficult time recovering from something they don’t recognize or understand. Once a person knows what they are dealing with, they can take the necessary steps to heal themselves.