Understanding the Psychology of Rape Fantasies

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Reader’s Question

I’m 27 and I served briefly in Afghanistan with the forces of my country. Ever since I returned home, I’ve had rape thoughts in my mind. I’m not a homosexual, or at least I think I’m not, but the thought of raping a young man is what turns me on the most.

What worries me is that I have open wounds in my mind and heart, brought about by the things I saw in the war, and I’m afraid of becoming a pervert and hurting others. This would destroy my mother and my whole world, since I don’t consider myself to be a bad person.

Are rape thoughts common? Are such fantasies common? How do I get rid of them? Is all I need just sex?

Psychologist’s Reply

Contrary to popular belief, rape is not about sex; it is about power. Although there are many motivations for rape, the main ones include domination and control. A lot of times it is about anger. Given the experiences you’ve recently had in Afghanistan, I’m guessing that your same-sex rape fantasies have more to do with expressing your hurt and fear than anything else. You were in a situation in which you had very little control, even over your own life. Now that you’re safe, your mind and body may feel comfortable with trying to work through the feelings you’ve not been able to express.

Rape fantasies are quite common. While there hasn’t been as much research on same-sex rape fantasies (of either gender), they probably are similar in nature to opposite sex ones. There is nothing wrong with fantasy. The mind is a safe place in which you can imagine things that you’d never want to do or actually do in real life. Within your mind, you are in control; the situation enfolds actually how you wish it. As you know only too well, real life is not like that. Thus, I would not worry too much about becoming a pervert and hurting others. There is little to fear as long as your rape fantasies remain in your head.

Finally, please allow me to express my deepest sympathy for all you suffered while serving your country. War is an horrific experience and I have no doubt that you have been hurt by it. I hope that your military provides good mental health services for its members. If it does not, please consider seeking out counseling for yourself. A qualified mental health professional, especially one who is trained in trauma work, may be able to help heal the open wounds and possibly get rid of the rape fantasies along the way.

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