I hope this Q will not mimic the fate of the racism Q which was buried in negative votes and caused quite a stir. this Q is somewhat linked to Is BDSM becoming mainstream? (though i am not equating at all BDSM and rape)

Two of my favorite anti-heroes are Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant and Angus Thermopiles, both of which are repentant rapists. I find that the inner turmoil of these characters makes great tension throughout the novels and generates unforgetable characters.

I am also found interesting books on rape victims testimonials and found great heroines like rape survivor Charlaine Harris‘s Lily Bard (Shakespeare) Series.

Anyways, I was thinking of developing a story based on a rapist POV and his victim’s. Their arcs at first diametrically opposed would slowly rejoin, and possibly merge into a relationship.

I understand that the nature of this Q may be distasteful to some and even suggesting a potential relationship between victim and perpetrator is anathema to some, please bear with me, i am just exploring a potential story idea.

I was wondering if such a novel could have a mainstream readership?

(I mean apart from wanabe rapists and distraught rape victims)

Thanks for your input and please try to be polite.

  • Why not write it and find out? Jul 3, 2015 at 4:44
  • @Dale Hartley Emery Because I have many ideas and need to prioritize. For me to toy with an idea takes hours, to develop it in a story takes days, to fully detail it, plot it, and outline it takes weeks, to write it takes months. Jul 3, 2015 at 4:49
  • 1
    In which country do you want to publish?
    – user5645
    Jul 3, 2015 at 19:15
  • I think it would be more interesting if the victim were also a man.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jul 6, 2015 at 15:09

4 Answers 4


There's definitely an interesting story in a rapist's repentance. Two things I would caution you against, though, are making it seem as though the victim "ought" to forgive the rapist to the point of starting a relationship (you're going to have trouble explaining why she would want to do something like this, besides Stockholm Syndrome), and making it seem like the rapist's inner turmoil is the most important part, i.e. like his sad feelings about being a rapist warrant more sympathy than her sad feelings about him raping her.


The answer hinges on where you go with this. If you show the humanity of both victim and perpetrator, their personality, what led to the events and how they deal with it afterwards, in a realistc manner, I don't see a problem with such a book. Due to the nature of the subject and the current heated debate, such a book would certainly trigger some extreme reactions ("victim blaming!"), but the more realistic you are -- and I don't mean in style but in content, ideally backing up your portrayal with research in an appendix -- the less this debate will sully your book and affect your reputation.

You are not writing a pro rape book, I assume, and not claiming that "she asked for it", so you should be safe from reporters attempting to drag your private life into this. But beware of attacks below the belt in interviews.


To gain mainstream readership you need something that people can connect to, that they can understand the emotional journey that you are taking them on.

I can certainly see the appeal of writing a book based on the rapists' point of view. It would perhaps be interesting to see how he got to the point of becoming a rapist. Taking a generic character through a series of steps that edges ever closer to needing that.

As for eventually forming a relationship, I think my approach would be of two damaged people coming together through a shared crisis. Maybe as him becoming a little obsessed, and her using it as a means to take control.

I think it is certainly an interesting premise, that has a lot of interesting angles...


This is a touchy subject so I will approach it from two points of view.

If you happen to be a woman's rights' activist and/or felon-rehabilitation activist, and this is the topic you wish to use to make your point, then by all means go for it, and write the best piece you can to promote your "activism."

If (as I suspect), you are approaching it from a writer's point of view, I would recommend against it. This is one of the harder topics around for a sophisticated, seasoned writer. If you "have many ideas and need to prioritize," I would prioritize this out, and choose a simpler, more manageable topic, rather than risking what might be "one shot" effort on this one.

If and when you become a world class author, then you might revisit this one.

  • Personally the fact that it is controversial and it would be difficult to write would be the major reason for prioritizing it in! A dark, edgy complicated novel would be a lot of fun to write. As long as the skill level is high enough to write it well.
    – Michael B
    Jul 4, 2015 at 19:18
  • @MichaelB:"As long as the skill level is high enough to write it well." I told the OP to revisit the topic "if and whe he becomes a world class author." But it might be too much for a "beginner" (which I think he is).
    – Tom Au
    Jul 4, 2015 at 19:21
  • But then literature is well crammed with authors who have tackled complicated subjects as their first published novel and become world class authors as a result. Nabokov / lolita being an obvious example. We would lose a huge amount of exceptional literature if beginners had followed that advice. You'll never know what you're capable of if you don't try something that is difficult...
    – Michael B
    Jul 4, 2015 at 20:18
  • @MichaelB I don't disagree with your point, but I feel the need to point out that Nabokov was very much not a beginner when he wrote Lolita
    – coldnumber
    Aug 4, 2015 at 6:29

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