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Discovery Through Understanding

At the end of Chapter Two we learned how Thelma lost five prime child-bearing years in a relationship that went nowhere. She wanted to get married and have children but her partner Bill had always told her he did not want to start a family. Then he told her he had changed his mind. He was ready to enter into both these long-term commitments - but with another woman.

Did Thelma deserve what happened to her? Why didn't she demand more from the relationship? Why didn't she just say no? It could be argued that she got seduced into a bad relationship because she wanted the good things she thought it promised and things just didn't work out.

However, such a conclusion, reached on a very superficial examination of her experience, is not adequate to help us understand the underlying causes of emotional rape, nor to give us a basis for recovery and alert us to ways we might prevent it from happening again.

It must be emphasized: it is not being argued that every relationship that fails is a case of emotional rape.

On the contrary, emotional rape is not the normal way that relationships end, just as date rape is not the usual way that dates end. But both do happen.

Only by understanding what makes emotional rape possible can we address questions of recovery and prevention.

Remember, too, that emotional rape is not limited to love and men/women relationships. It can occur between employer and employee, government and citizen, and in many other situations, so our understanding must include all possible forms.

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